There have been many days in the past months when I have grasped for words to be able to express the darkness of depression. One day it came out as, “I feel like I’m drowning.”
Yes. Those were words that captured the struggle. I was drowning.
I was gasping for air, struggling to keep my head above the water. Working so hard just to take one breath. My legs would kick and strain and then still from the exhaustion. My arms would flail and reach, hoping to grab something–anything–that would bring back life.
But then my arms would still too, and the sinking would begin again.
Quiet. I just wanted quiet. And darkness. . . yes, I wanted the darkness. One day I had to leave my house, and the sun accosted me. I was blinded, exposed. It shone too bright for the darkness that had wrapped its arms around me. I had to disappear.
Thoughts swirled. They blew around like a tornado in my mind. I. just. could. not. focus. I could not follow my thoughts to the end. Even the most simple of tasks, of thoughts, overwhelmed me. How would I ever reach the surface if I didn’t have enough energy to remember I was suppose to be kicking?
And for a while, it all went dark. I couldn’t maintain the struggle any longer. Days were spent in bed. In the quiet darkness. Not thinking. Not feeling. It didn’t last long, but it felt like the bottom of the sea. I couldn’t tell which way was up, nor could I conceive of ever getting there. I was drowning, in the most literally figurative way.
Somehow though, air came. My husband grabbed my arms and hoisted me up. I felt too numb to recognize the arms of God wrapped around me, but He spoke to me so clearly through the words of the psalmists. I lay in bed, my blinds closed, my blanket protecting me from the world, reading the words of these psalms over and over.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23: 4
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
Air. The Word of God was breathed into me. It was God’s breath sucked into the gasping, the flailing, the darkness.
I wish I could say I didn’t drown because of my ability to swim. But it just isn’t true. I swam for all my might. I swam until all I could do was try and float. . . do nothing and hope to survive.
And I did. I did survive.
One day, light creeped in.
I could kick again, I could move my arms in long strokes. I could breathe.