Shining Light on Depression

The loss of one of our era’s most astounding creative geniuses has many of us remembering and reflecting today. Robin Williams inspired and entertained us for decades, but beyond his twinkling blue eyes was a deep sadness. I can only imagine what he suffered beneath his infectious smile. It hurts to imagine, doesn’t it?

I’m pretty sure I judged addiction and suicide wrongly…until I experienced depression. It’s a darkness unlike any other. I had no idea. Add to that the invisible, underrated, yet very active spiritual warfare component, and you have a deathly combination. Oh, how we need a light in the darkness.

light in darknessPINIT

The only way I’ve known there was a light in the darkness is by faith. Faith is believing what you cannot see. And when you’re buried deep in the darkness of depression, you can’t see a thing. My faith grew in that place. {Faith building often comes at a cost.} But there are times when you can’t believe. And these are the times when you need another person to step into your darkness and be the light. As hard, humiliating, humbling and scary as that can be, it just might save your life.

I’ve mentioned my deep sadness on the blog in the past, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t like putting myself out there like that. And some didn’t like knowing about it. I’ve learned that very few people know how to hold deep sadness. It makes people uncomfortable, and they hope it goes away soon. We prefer the infectious smile and the twinkling blue eyes. We don’t mind if an actor plays the role of one who suffers deeply, but we don’t want to enter into real life suffering. Until we’ve known it ourselves.

In honor or Robin Williams and the hundreds of thousands who suffer in silence, I feel compelled to shine some light into the darkness of depression. I wrote the words below as the fog was lifting a bit, but I was still very much in the battle. I had just heard the Lord whisper a new name to my heart: Bravehearted Beauty. I didn’t feel brave or beautiful at the time, but I chose to believe that’s how God saw me. And because He makes me brave, I can share these words with you today.

Written in February 2014:

Depression. Who wants to write about it? Who wants to have coffee and talk about it? Not the person going through it, I can tell you that! This isn’t exactly my area of expertise, but words keep bubbling up in my head and heart. And every time I try to push them aside, they just keep coming back. I have a feeling there’s a reason. I have a feeling someone needs a light in the darkness. 

Depression thrives in darkness. It gains strength in secret, hidden places. It craves isolation and loneliness. It hides in places people don’t like to go…in places where it’s not easily exposed. No wonder it’s so hard to break free! I don’t want to intellectualize depression or act like I have all the answers {I really don’t!}, but I do want to shine some light on it. Because I’ve learned enough about healing to know that it doesn’t happen in the dark or all alone. We need the light. And we need each other. 

Depression is a thief. When it comes, you forget who you are. It hovers over like a thick, cloudy veil, stealing your life and light. Robbing you of your calling and throwing a wet blanket on your passion. The real you disappears. You withdraw and isolate. You don’t call your family; you don’t answer the phone for a friend. You act like an orphan who’s all alone. You don’t want to be this girl, but you also don’t want to be the black cloud on everyone’s sunny day. Or worse, a problem to be fixed.

Depression is a liar. It tells you that no one wants to be with you like this…that you’re unlovable like this, unwanted like this. You don’t even want to be with yourself like this. {If you saw your own name on Caller ID, you wouldn’t answer.} You sink deeper into the lies until they feel completely true. Surely it’s better to be lonely and hurting than to risk connection and possible rejection.

As I let that last sentence soak in, my heart breaks…not just for myself, but for anyone who knows that dark and lonely place. The enemy’s lies feel so true in the darkness.

If only you could hear the truth, sweet girl. If only the veil would lift. If only the light would pierce through the darkness. {Truth: Your light is coming. You were meant to shine!}

There’s so much fear and shame surrounding depression. Fear hides in every corner. You name the fear, and a depressed person has felt it. More fear than I can list. It’s paralyzing. And so much of it is rooted in shame. Shame that you’re depressed, shame that you can’t snap out of it, shame that you take medication, shame that you don’t. And oh, how the shame compounds. Shame upon shame because of all that you can’t manage to do when you’re depressed. Phone calls go unreturned, emails unanswered, plans are canceled, decisions can’t be made, simple tasks pile high and friendships fall apart. The evidence of your inability to do life is everywhere.

And as if your own shame weren’t enough to send you into a downward spiral, everyone else’s life appears perfect compared to your mess. Happy marriages, accomplished children, great vacations, clean houses, fit bodies, organized to do lists, completed projects…all things you feel like depression has stolen. And so the shame deepens and the lies swirl. You’re convinced that you’re the only one in this place. {Comparison is the thief of joy for anyone. Depressed or not, we need to pay attention to where our thoughts go when we read blogs, look at Pinterest, scroll through Facebook, etc.}

So there’s fear, shame…and control. We try to control the fear that’s rooted in our shame. {Can you see the cycle?} It may not look like control when you’re depressed because you feel so messy, but I’ve just learned that even the act of withdrawing is a form of control. {Passive, but it’s still control.} I exert that kind of control when I go silent and refuse to write, or when I sit at home alone and refuse to answer the phone. And of course, there are the obvious forms of control: perfection, performance, always planning, accomplishing, striving, organizing, cleaning, staying busy so that you won’t have to face your fear and shame. For a good, long while, this just might keep the depression at bay.

I tried every form of control my entire life. Sometimes both the passive and active at the same time. And then it caught up with me. The focus and energy it took to make life work the way that I wanted it to work {smooth and easy} finally exhausted me. And as the control fell away, pain, fear and shame began rising to the surface. I had worked all those years to keep it under water, like a giant, pressure-filled beach ball, and now here it was…too big to hide or shove back down. {And I was too tired and numb from the move to even try.} At first, I didn’t know what was harder…trying to control my life or dealing with the pain. Both are hard. But there’s only one path that leads to the life I really want.

Throughout this season of depression, I’ve begged God to lift it. I’ve fought bravely at times and have collapsed at times. I’ve fought for life and I’ve disappeared in the darkness. I’ve hunted for beauty and I’ve been consumed by the brokenness.

Yet through it all, deep down in my heart, I’ve believed that God is doing something good. {Sometimes my belief was small, but even mustard seed faith is enough!} He’s doing a new thing in me, and I’m finally perceiving it!

I’m finally able to say THANK YOU, LORD. Thank you for stripping me of control. Thank you for allowing fear and shame to surface. Thank you for doing what I couldn’t do for myself. Thank you for exposing what I couldn’t see in myself. Thank you for giving me the courage to walk through the pain instead of stuffing it down through performance, perfection and control. Thank you for allowing me to wear myself out and for catching me when I fell. Thank you for doing a new thing.

You know what’s really wild? I’ve always had the sense that God was bringing us to Franklin for something deeper than we could see…something only He could see we needed. All we really knew to say when we moved was that we longed for a simpler slower pace, but Franklin has become our healing place. A place of beauty, safety and support through new friendships, great counseling and healing prayer.

And I believe that all of this deep healing {which is still in process}, will lead to LIFE. The abundant life that we long for…the life that’s promised in John 10:10. {Hence the name of our farm: Ten 10 Farm.}

So back to the title of this post. How do we shine light on depression? We talk about it, write about it, call it what it is. We come out from under the shame of the label and have compassion for ourselves and others. We seek help from counselors, doctors, healing prayer ministers…or all three. And most of all, we don’t battle it alone.

There’s a lot I don’t know about depression, but here’s what I do know: there’s hope and life and light that was meant to shine in the darkness. YOU were meant to shine in the darkness. Remember, depression thrives in the darkness, and those who are under its weight need light to shine in from the outside. They don’t see it in themselves. Maybe you’re the light today. Or maybe you’re the one in the darkness. Either way, there’s something for you in this place. I promise. Ask God what it is. And if you can’t hear His answer today, keep asking. Depression loves to stay silent and secretive. That’s where it has the most power. So if you keep talking and crying your heart out to God and others, you’re fighting…even if it feels like you’re not winning right now. Ultimately, the light will pierce through the darkness and overtake it.

I don’t feel like this post is really done because there’s so much more to say, but my healing journey isn’t done. I’m not sure that healing is ever really “done” this side of heaven. But I’m going to leave my thoughts as they are…imperfect and incomplete.

If you’re feeling brave today, would you share a thought? You have no idea how life giving your words can be. And you never know who might read them and need them.

Blessings and peace to you, sweet friends.


Back to TopEMAILPOSTFacebookPOSTSubscribe
  • chrissi - you certainly are one bravehearted beauty. you amaze.♥ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Burkett - L–that is the BRAVEST and most BEAUTIFUL post in the history of, I don’t know, EVER! So well-spoken, so true, so deeply {painfully} honest. I’ve been there. Alone, abandoned, aching, in the dark. I’ve learned that the enemy loves to join me there. To taunt me, tease me, torture me. And the more I hold others at bay, the more I hear his lies. It’s not a fight to fight alone–it’s a fight that becomes instantly less frightening once it’s out in the open. And we are never, ever alone. We have a Savior who hung on the cross and carried it for us, all of it. When you’re in a dark place–call me. We don’t have to talk–we can just breathe and pray together. Don’t stay in the dark alone. I adore you!!!! A THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS!!!!!! This is LIFE-SAVING info!!!!!!ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Thank you for adding truth here, Amanda. Yes, the lies of the enemy fester in dark and lonely places. And the more isolated we keep ourselves, the more we hear the lies. It becomes like an echo chamber! So hard to NOT want to be alone when you’re depressed, but it’s downright dangerous. WE NEED EACH OTHER!ReplyCancel

  • Beemie - Shining a light means giving hope to others…darkness came at inopportune times for me in the past and I tried laugh when I felt like crying..not an easy task. This was a lovely post on a day that finds me sad not for myself, but for someone who made me laugh when I probably needed it the most. Writing is a wonderful way to express feelings that not everyone will read, but at least you know you put it out there as a beacon for others. Lovely words.ReplyCancel

  • Beth - Linsey, thank you for sharing and bringing Light to such a difficult subject. I’ve known that pain and it is hard to fight when you are in the midst of it and it’s harder to share with people that don’t understand. You’ve always had such a gift with the written word and I love that you are willing to write what others can’t or won’t.

    One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes:

    God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.ReplyCancel

  • Gracia @ Gracious Offering - Linsey,
    Depression runs in my family…younger sis has struggled with bipolar depression for years after trying to take her life while in college. Thank you for your honest and sensitive post. I admit that I too have been in the pit of darkness and despair at times. The Psalms are what speak to me in these times and give me hope…along with a faith, however flickering at times, that better days will come. Love Psalm 130…”Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy…”. So sad about Robyn Williams! May his death not be in vain. Thanks again, Linsey.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Thank God for the Psalms. Love the honesty and emotion. I did lots of crying out of the depths, but also encouraged by the ways woe turned to praise in the Psalms. Blessings to you, Gracia.ReplyCancel

  • Dana Tucker - LInsey, I thought you were probably going through something when we met but I had no idea how deep this ran with you. So happy that you found the help and healing your needed. So proud of your bravery in writing about this topic. I’d love to get together for coffee or lunch soon. xoxoxReplyCancel

  • Jamie - Linsey –
    Thank you for your post today. Life is so fragile and, as humans, so is our human-ness…meaning ALL of us feel sad and isolated at some point(s) in our lives. You and others who have shared your words are the saviors helping to pull others up from the darkness. You are a blessing. So glad I am one of your followers- you bravehearted beauty! xoReplyCancel

  • Mary - I thought of you this past Sunday, our priest gave a sermon at mass about making change from a place of strength. To not wait for a low and desperate point but if you feel the need for change make it from a place of strength. It made me think of you when you left a gorgeous home, family and friends in Houston to embark on a new journey. You weren’t running from a terrible life you were making a change from a place of strength.

    If you do what you have always done you will get what you have always gotten.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - I like that perspective. Thanks for sharing, Mary. You are right…we did make the decision to leave our comfort zone in Houston from a place of strength. That felt good.ReplyCancel

  • Andrew Fockel - “…very few people know how to hold deep sadness. It makes people uncomfortable, and they hope it goes away soon.”

    This has been one of the most difficult lessons of life to learn. Suffering and trials that don’t lift with a few prayers, or after a few days, weeks or months is something many folks aren’t sure how to deal with. I don’t say that with judgement, for I’ve only found those deeper levels of empathy and compassion after walking through those dark seasons. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful gifts God has given us, and a great redemption for the suffering we go through in life. It is also one of the greatest gifts we can give others: our empathy, tears and presence. I imagine Job’s friends just sitting with him, before they decided to try and be “helpful.” 🙂 Thank you for your honesty and wisdom, Linsey!ReplyCancel

  • Bravehearted Beauty - I’m with you, Andrew. I, too, have only found the ability to sit with people in their deep sadness and just hold that space with them without feeling uncomfortable because of what I’ve walked through in recent years. I think I’ll be a better friend for it. We learn the hard way, don’t we?ReplyCancel

  • Sherry - Your words are so comforting. Thank you and many blessings to you.ReplyCancel

  • Sadie - Linsey, Your words in this post and so many other posts touch my heart very deeply, and I feel connected to you in many ways. Thank you for sharing hope and encouragement! Thank you for seeing God’s hand of goodness even on dark days. Thank you for sharing the gift He has so obviously blessed you with – the ability to communicate things many of us feel and experience but few of us can express. At the time I did not recognize what was happening in my spirit, but I became depressed after my youngest child entered Kindergarten. In about 10 days she will be starting 4th grade and I am still struggling with feelings of deep loss every fall when my kids go back to school. This past year I was so incredibly tired all the time that it was difficult to function, and it was only a few months ago that I realized I was quite depressed. The shame is the hardest aspect, I think. I know Jesus suffered on the cross in order to free us from these chains, but how to appropriate that freedom is the question at times. Thank you, and please keep sharing your heart and your journey to freedom and healing. Blessings!ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Oh, Sadie, I so appreciate your words. This is exactly why I write, because as you said, I feel I’ve been given the gift of articulating my heart in a way that others feel and experience but don’t know how to put into words. It’s a burden and a blessing to have this gift. Sometimes I don’t want to use it, but to know it helps even one is a blessing. I get the back to school blues, too. We just started. Today is my first full day alone in a long time. As an introvert, I like alone time, but as one who’s battled dark days, it can be scary to be alone for too long. Praying about how God would have me use my time and connect with others.ReplyCancel

  • Adrienne - Thank you Linsey for sharing your heart and your journey. My 15 year old daughter began struggling with anxiety/depression last year before going into high school. When we went in to see the pediatrician for the anxiety attacks, he explained that the flip side is depression. After he said that, I could see that. Not deep, but just more time in her room “reading.” I see more flashes of anger and she’s had more severe anxiety attacks, even bringing her home after one day in Guatemala on a mission trip. She has meds, but wondering what to do. How much anger/alone time is teenage years normal and how much is not. Also sometimes her happiness seems over the top to me. I guess I’m asking your opinion of what type of dr. to see. Christian counselors here don’t prescribe meds so we need two dr.s.? Thanks again for sharing. And I love your writing. Just drove thru Nashville and wish I could have stopped by!ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - I’m so sorry you have to see your daughter struggle. I know this is one of the hardest things as a parent. I didn’t even want to tell my mom about depression because I knew she’d worry and want to fix it. I tend to be a loner/introvert/very comfortable alone kind of person, so I’d say that kind of person craves more alone time than most. But too much alone time (days upon days of not connecting with others in person) is dangerous for me. A good doctor is great, but I would strongly recommend adding a Christian counselor to the mix. Medicine doesn’t take away the need to explore your heart. Not all counselors are equal. Look for one who helps her dig deeper with good questions. I look at counseling as a gift to myself. Worth it!ReplyCancel

      • Adrienne - Thanks Linsey~I am going to make an appt. with counselor today. I want to give her the tools she needs to help her manage this while she’s still home and before she goes off to college in a few years. Hope you have a nice sunny day to enjoy today!ReplyCancel

  • So Long Summer…Hello Schedule » Bravehearted Beauty - […] Beauties! Thank you for reading my heart on depression and for sharing your brave and beautiful hearts through comments and emails. I don’t write […]ReplyCancel

  • cindy - I’ve wanted to write for a couple of days now…but I needed to process this. Linsey…you are so brave to share this…to put it out there and trust that the words will be far more important too there than the trepidation of sharing your soul. I am blessed to know you. My prayer is that the stigma of depression will one day be removed and replaced with compassion and understanding. I think our world is in need of a huge life boat. Thank you for being so very courageous. Blessings always.ReplyCancel

  • tessa - Hi Lins, I’m sure your words will bless so many and I pray sharing them continues to heal you. I’m a bit of an outsider I guess, aware but not able to fully comprehend the burden of what you and other friends of mine have had to carry. Depression seems like such a weighty, dark, and lonely cross to bear. I’ve had a few friends share their stories with me and I remember being shocked, never judgmental, but just so side swept that I could be so unaware of their struggles. It seems like many suffers learn to put on a very convincing front. It is my nature to want to fix and bring harmony to every problem, not just my own, but for those I love. I’ve learned when it comes to depression that doesn’t work. The triggers and causes aren’t easy to pinpoint or remove. Are there things you wish friends had done, said, or been aware of for you when things were at their worst? What does support look like now, what will help you from falling back into that darkness again? Love, hugs and prayers, TessaReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Camp - Thank you for your pushing forth into the light He calls us to–for then we are more apt to recognize in our own lives, too. So grateful for your tenacity and faith, Linsey. Yes, you shine!ReplyCancel

  • Receiving and Believing A New Name » Bravehearted Beauty - […] the tail end of a recent winter depression, God called me Bravehearted Beauty. I didn’t ask for that name. And I certainly didn’t […]ReplyCancel

  • Saying Yes to More » Bravehearted Beauty - […] And so does good counseling, healing prayer and a sun light! After experiencing the darkness of depression during our first two winters here, I’m celebrating the fact that I’m living in the […]ReplyCancel

  • More Winter Beauty + A Revelation » Bravehearted Beauty - […] those who don’t pursue it naturally to consider scheduling it. Introverts {or those battling dark seasons of depression} may not have a strong desire to connect with others regularly, so it helps to have a few […]ReplyCancel

  • Swinging My Sword At Winter » Bravehearted Beauty - […] crawled under the covers, but sleep wasn’t what I really needed. {After two rounds of winter depression, I’ve learned that crawling under the covers in the middle of the day isn’t […]ReplyCancel

  • Beauty Emerged From Broken » Bravehearted Beauty - […] it felt like the pain in our marriage, the collision of our childhood stories, the depression and deep sadness was spilling out all over the place. What if it spilled out all over our daughters […]ReplyCancel

  • A Low Place With A High Calling » Bravehearted Beauty - […] possible way. I’m in a low place, but I’m not afraid of it…and miraculously not depressed by it. {Thank you, LORD!} My ultimate low isn’t a broken ankle. It just happens to be the […]ReplyCancel

  • First Day Beauty and Blues » Bravehearted Beauty - […] on the couch is not as enjoyable as it sounds. All that lying around feels too close to the days of depression, and hello…when all you do is eat and lie on the couch, your clothes start telling you […]ReplyCancel

  • Screen Porch Swinging » Bravehearted Beauty - […] want to make any of the design decisions required for custom work. {Decision making and depression don’t go well […]ReplyCancel

  • Peaches - I just found your blog today. Actually through your old blog. By accident. I returned to my home in Phoenix the other day after spending a week in rural TN visiting my parents/family. While there, decided to visit Franklin again after many years. My husband and I have been talking about retiring to TN in a few years after our youngest graduates high school and college. I’ve been indecisive about my hometown 2.5 hrs away from Nashville where the closest movie theater is 40 mins away, or near Nashville, a city that offers many of the things I love about city living – the arts. I want a farm and room for a couple of horses, my husband wants tennis courts nearby. His father is originally from Franklin, yet we met in Phoenix. I looked at real estate and farms in Franklin my last day in TN last week and flew home this weekend, excited, to tell my husband what I found. He informs me that while I was gone, he received news from his boss. He may retire next year, not in 5 as planned, that his company is doing a lot of lay-offs and he expects to be next. We don’t want to uproot our son from his high school, and will stay here for another year and a half til he at least graduates. We discussed Franklin all day Sunday and plan on at least purchasing land now and sit on it til we move. Anyway, my point – I had postpartum depression with my first born, was diagnosed, took meds and was fine within 9 months. 21 years later, I’m now suffering again due to, I think, stress the past 3 years of caring for my husbands seriously ill family members. Your words have spoken to me today. I feel as if you are reading my mind. As a Christian, I feel that God guided me to your blog to help me see I need help again. I just googled “living in Franklin, TN” and your blog popped up. God works in ways I would never think.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - I’m so glad you found your way to my blog and are sensing God is in it. He’s so good like that. Counseling is a HUGE gift to yourself. I bless you in that! Also blessing your Franklin dreams. It’s a beautiful place to live for sure!ReplyCancel

  • What We Really Need In The New Year » Bravehearted Beauty - […] in Franklin made me feel like I could tackle anything. {Little did I know that my first winter depression was right around the corner. Humbling to say the […]ReplyCancel