Life or Death: Contemplating Depression
Has God ever given you a season of rest that provided you with the time and space you needed in order to reflect on your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being? Recently, God has been sending me several wake-up calls. Just last week, my business partner and I were stressing out about making our mark, accomplishing our goals, and being successful. The large amount of stress caused my partner to get sick and she did not eat for twelve hours. Meanwhile, I was at home juggling the many endeavors that I had going all at once wondering, "Why do I have so much to do and how on earth am I’m going to get through all of it?"
To make matters worse, I heard of the tragedy regarding the co-founder, Titi Branch, of Miss Jessie’s (a hair product line). Titi had committed suicide. Myself, along with many others, were deeply saddened by this news. I was shocked. I could not help but think, "How could someone who had it all feel that suicide was her only option?" I was deeply affected.
I have no idea how she got to such a dark place that resulted in her tragic decision, but I began to think about the pressure she must have felt in her life that lead her there. I can identify with great pressure, fatigue, and stress. I texted my business partner about the heartbreaking news, which resulted in a conversation centered on our journey and how we had been so focused on getting to the finish line of success. We discussed our hopes of becoming financially wealthy, and purchasing the material things of our hearts' desires so much, that we almost lost focus on our one true reasoning for embarking on our business in the first place. Somehow, we had replaced the passionate pursuit of our dreams with thoughtless ambition, and realized that we were both standing at the same crossroads. Were we going to continue to worry and stress, or would we rise in our faith and set our eyes on what God had in store for us, rather than seeking the applause from this world?
After Lot had parted from Abraham, the Lord said to him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever," (Genesis 14-15, NIV). This hit me just as hard as the news of Titi Branch’s suicide. Whether we are struggling through a bout of depression, suffering from anxiety, or if we are just simply exhausted, if we could just find the strength to raise our heads and look from the place that we are at, we could possibly see what God has in store for us. Taking a moment to pace ourselves in life and catch our breath for longer periods of time will give us a deeper insight into our existence and our true purpose on this earth. Simply raising our heads and looking around at where we are, acknowledging where we have come from, and looking into the future of where God may take us will lead us right to the hope our hearts long for.
Arriving at this realization, I looked at my business partner and said, “How did we ever allow ourselves to become so stressed that we could not even eat? Why do we panic and drive ourselves nuts when things do not go our way? Can those emotions over a period of time continually build up and lead us to considering suicide?” She replied, “Absolutely. If we let these feelings go, and they build up over the years unchecked.”
Many of us have faced some kind of obstacle in life that may have placed a contemplative thought of suicide into our heads. Life got hard, and we felt we could not make it, but somewhere inside of us we knew we could make it. But what about those that have lost even that small lingering hope that they can make it to the end of the tunnel where the light awaits? I do not know what caused Titi Branch to take her own life, but I realize that those who have taken the suicidal route must have been unable to seen an option out of their pain, out of their depression, and out of their sadness. This breaks my heart because I not only believe, but I know there is always a new beginning. You see, I, too, have experienced very deep sadness. I, too, have been at the bottom of grief. But somehow, and someway, I was able to make it out and experience a very abundant life following the extreme pain. Many people falsely believe that suicide condemns one's soul to hell. The Bible defines suicide as a sin, no different from other evils, and in no way determines a person’s eternal destiny.
Much of my own personal anxiety has come from wanting certain things to happen now, waiting for things to change so that we can “finally be happy” (like the amount in our bank accounts), or waiting until after we get married to be content…the list is endless. The point is that we place a lot of pressure on ourselves to meet a mark or rise to an occasion we have created. God is supposed to be our light in the dark places, not our plans. It is so easy to become wrapped up in our own idea of where we should be or what we should be doing at the current moment in our lives. These thoughts hold us back from living our best possible life, regardless of the season we are in; however, for those who do suffer from depression and mental illness, know that God has sent you help. There are people all over the world and in every community who can help you and want to help you. God has placed them there for you as a refuge, so please seek them out or tell someone how you feel. Do not stay in the darkness. God has given you a place in the light. Claim it.
Many people struggle with various emotional issues, such as depression and anxiety. These feelings may leave us feeling completely empty and as if our lives mean nothing. When these feelings occur, remember to first look at your value in the eyes of God. The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14, NIV). Even in our times of darkness, we should talk to God and pour our hearts out to Him. Yes. He knows all about it, but it is important that you voice to Him in prayer and tell Him what you need. Allow God to send you help and be willing to accept it. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13, NIV).
If you or anyone you know feel as if they are in a crisis involving any issues that involve deep depression, abuse, anxiety, economic worries, illness please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.