By Kim Iverson and Justin Rossow
Justin: We got together today to talk about depression. How long has depression been a part of your life, Kim?
Kim: I think I first noticed periods of darkness and difficulty functioning in college. But knowing what I know now, depression has affected me in one way or another probably my whole life.
What made you think this might be depression?
The depth of the darkness and sadness seemed so overwhelming, more than seemed “regular.” Also—my feelings weren’t necessarily tied to an event. I would just “get down” sometimes for no reason.
Why are you willing to talk about your experience with me today?
My sense is that there are others who battle depression. It is such an isolating struggle, and not often talked about out in the open. I want others to know they’re not alone.
I want others to know they’re not alone.
The image on this blog is actually something you painted recently. Tell me more about where that painting came from why.
I was an Art Major in college and artistic expression has always been a part of my life. I guess art has become a vehicle for me to express emotion without getting bogged down trying to explain it. Colors, textures, and form can say things for me when I can’t quite find the words …
For me, this painting captures a moment in time. I am simply expressing deep sadness, and being OK with being sad.
After I finished that painting, I sat down and wrote where I was at in the moment. What I wrote was this:
Sitting in sadness
Staring into the gaping jaws of loneliness so cold.
Complete and utter annihilation of self and sense of well-being.
There, in the darkness
In the pit, the muck
Jesus is there.
I will not fear.
I will not be destroyed.
I will not be laid to waste or be left for dead.
I will hope in the Lord and in His power,
In His mighty hand.
He will save me.
He will draw me up out of the pit,
Out of despair
And into His loving arms.
I will put my hope in Him
My Rock and my Redeemer.
He alone can save me.
Thank you for sharing that, Kim. The first part seems so overwhelming. Forgive me for asking it this way, but can it really be that bad?
For someone who doesn’t have this struggle, it can be really difficult to imagine what it is actually like. But I guess other people have different struggles that I don’t understand, either.
I can only say I am not trying to exaggerate or sensationalize. I’m just trying to describe, to put into words, where I am internally.
How do you experience Jesus in the midst of such deep sadness? How did you get from the isolation and the muck in the first part to the hope you express in the second part?
Actually, that day, the sun physically came out from behind the clouds. I was able to look up and take a deep breath and feel like everything was going to be OK.
But I don’t always get to the second part. I don’t always experience or feel that Jesus is there. I know He’s there, He says so in His Word, but in that moment it doesn’t feel like it.
I don’t always experience or feel that Jesus is there.
So what do you do when it doesn’t feel like Jesus is there?
I guess I’m always aware that Jesus is carrying me to the next thing. There are days when I just have to do the NEXT THING. It could be dishes, or putting a load in the laundry. Just getting through the day. Pick up kids from school. Just do the NEXT THING. And the NEXT THING. And then you get to the next day.
That can last for a day, for part of a day, or for a couple of days in a row, but I guess I now have a history with the Lord. I know this is not going to last forever. I will have joy. The sun will come out. I know that, even in the darkness.
I know this is not going to last forever.
Do you pray?
It can be hard to pray.
Sometimes it’s simply, “Help me, Jesus.”
Sometimes it’s hard to say anything out loud, and I just whisper, “… Jesus.”
I am hoping for healing, but the fact is, there may always be a piece of this that I have to battle, or at least come to terms with, at least this side of heaven.
I love that statement of faith in the face of darkness, hope in the face of hopelessness. Kim, you express a deep need for Jesus, and I think that’s what being a disciple is all about.
Before you go, is there anything you would say to someone who might feel like they are suffering from the kind of deep sadness that could be depression?
First, find someone safe, someone you can trust. For any step forward, you need support you can count on. You can start opening up some of your feeling with someone you trust. Feeling isolated and alone is one of the biggest parts of the struggle. Feeling connected to someone else is a huge step.
Second, if you need more help, I really encourage you to go ahead and seek professional counseling. That can be a really hard step, so you need to be in a safe place and feel connected to someone else, but sometimes you need more help than a friend can give.
And then put other people around you who will pray for you and with you. It can be different people at different seasons, but building up prayer support is an important piece. You don’t always need to spill your guts, but letting people around you know you are struggling is important.
Feeling isolated and alone is one of the biggest parts of the struggle. Feeling connected to someone else is a huge step.
Being willing to take the risk of sharing part of your hurt or pain or sadness, you quite often find another person is struggling, too. Sharing prayers helps you realize you aren’t alone. Their struggle might not look like yours, but we’re all in this together.
Thank you, Kim. I am glad we are in this together.