The Big “D”.

Welcome to another “In Black and White”

Get your head out of the gutter. Not that one.

The big D is for depression. Depression is running high right now among many people. This is likely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how our lives have been shifted from social to isolated. Depression can take many forms for a variety of people and depressions often brings anxiety with it.

Why so much now?

Excellent question. Think about those who struggle with isolation and who found work as a means of letting the depression and anxiety stay at bay during the workday, but the moment they go home they are greeted by the big D and the big A. Now, to be clear both exist even during the day, but the ability to socialize gives people a out to forget about themselves and coexist.

People who normally don’t have depression and anxiety are finding themselves more anxious and depressed because the life as they have lived for so long has changed. Change is good, right? Most of the time, but this change has resulted in sadness, death, depression, and anxiety. People aren’t able to do what they normally did, the sense of having control of ones’ life has become unknown as we are faced with the unknowing of tomorrow.

The media’s constant coverage, the banter of political parties, the fake news, the constant in your face information has beat people down to a point where the messages are not helpful, but harmful. The theorist, the hypocrisy, the hate, and the lack of knowing is dividing people. People are rebelling against the stay-at-home order because they are at their breaking point.

Depression can also lead to suicide, the thoughts of taking ones’ life because people are truly sick of how things become. Questions of is this world meant for me or is isolation the new way of living? Will I ever be able to walk into the grocery store without a mask or gloves or will I be able to venture back to the zoo or any other outdoor activity–or is isolation and community no longer a thing?

Tons and tons of questions come through our minds which has an impact on our health. Have you experienced the inability to keep track of the days of the week? the inability to think about what to do next? The loss of time? Waking up at weird hours and having vivid and weird dreams? Have you found yourself eating and eating and roaming around the house for nothing? Has your pets become more aggressive or are they sleeping more? Do they sense our changes in what we do? So many questions, so little answers.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t even understand my own questions at times. I look out my windows and I see people walking, I see people looking around and I see children not playing with each other because the fear that lurks behind. I read a post of a lady this morning that said she didn’t wear her mask to the store and when she got home her mind raced about what if, what if I touched something, caught something, or was careless in my decision? We have become people who fear something because we can not see or touch it. We feel like we are living a real life sci-fi movie that we are aimlessly moving parts and lacks a conclusion.

The working from home has changed us. For me, I feel like I work harder, but accomplish less. The daily 100s of zooms, emails, calls, and processes are taking a toll. Is this the new life?

Added to the fear of contracting COVID is the fact that people are now losing jobs, losing hope and whatever security they had in life is becoming unstable. Losing your job in the midst of a crisis–is this the way life is meant to be? Is this morally or ethically right of employers to terminate employees because they too are falling on hard times? Will the necessary help promised from our government be enough? Or has that glass half full approach proved to be a farce?

Employers are saying over and over, “we will get through this,” yet, what I see more and more of is companies furloughing employees, taking away needed health benefits, taking away the source of income that feed families and provide for them. The domino effect will result in the lowest people going even lower. Yet, there are some companies who are still hiring–companies who are doing the right thing–top executives furloughing pay so the employees remain a priority. The approach to knock someone further down when they are already down enough is not good practice. It is even further demoralizing and depressing.

What will people do once they hit rock bottom? The mental health of the healthy individuals who aren’t suffering from COVID become the unknown victims of this pandemic. Our mental health, mine included has become weak and tired.

Is this the new way of life?

It’s hard to find faith when all you hear is the negative and the bickering of political parties or some wild theories of what caused this pandemic? How do we find our faith when the pillars of faith–our churches and places of worship are closed. People unable to gather and sing and pray? Being alone in your home, secluded from people you love, people who raise you up, people who keep you going every single day whether or not they realized it or not. All taken away.

How can we have faith? Pray? Read the Bible? Play music, read, meditate, walk in the park (most are closed), or try to find that special place where faith is common?

Faith is definitely being tested. Faith is definitely being redefined. Faith is running thin, even in me, who has always believed more than others that God was there.

It is hard to find God right now.

Faith teaches us that God is never gone. Faith though, can run empty. Why would God allow this to happen? Why would God allow people to suffer? Why would God separate people? Why would God allow man to control everything? Why GOD? Why?

These are all questions I have and I am sure you may have them too. Sadly they aren’t going to appear in the local newspaper, in your Facebook, Twitter, Tik-Tok, or Instagram feeds–in fact, it wont even show up in this very blog. However, as I sit here looking at the words that are being typed out I watch the candle beside me burn–I watch the flame–finding myself drifting off staring at it–as it feeds off the oxygen in the air. This got me to thinking–when I put the lid over the burning flame, the flame begins to struggle to remain burning.

The smoke from the flame fills the glass jar and slowly the flame is oxygen starved and dies. The wax begins to cool an dry, the sediments of the smoke dissipate. The glass will cool and the wick will be there waiting for the next time a spark is put to it to burn.

This got me thinking.

Right now our lives are like the lid being put on us through social distancing, isolation, limited interactions and the fight to stay healthy. Some people ignoring the methods to stay alive and that is the wick that becomes wilted apart of the now hard wax–it is no longer burnable until the wax liquefies.. For us, our faith has to be like the wick that fights until the very end and hope for a new day. The day when the lid from the candle is lifted and new fire ignites the wick. Just like the candle we burn, we burn and we burn. Sometimes, though we become weak and tired and that is when we all must stop, think, pray, step away from the distractions and listen to the quietness in the air which may provide the breath of a new day.

We can NOT control anyone. We only can control ourselves and depression and anxiety may become so intense that our candle decides never to burn again–that person was not weak or decided to take the easy way out–they were the vulnerable who beyond the facade of everything appearing okay because on social media or on the phone they appear to be happy and handling things well, when in reality the smoke of the extinguished candle suffocates them from the inside out. They become so suffocated they make a choice that others may not understand.

They end their life.

Do they go to hell? Is God with them? Were they a chicken shit and weak and did the right thing? Or did they cry out and no one thought to listen? Did they have faith that God was with them and they only saw the end of life as the true peace they were struggling to find? We may never know all those answers, but despite the darkness of the time and the darkness found in people’s heart, soul, and mind–God is always there–he is the wick that wants to burn. Sounds weird, but…

God is here.

He has never abandoned us. Scary as it seems when we die God is already there. He is already holding our hand. Whether death be from depression or anxiety, old age, cancer, accident, suicide, or disease. God is here.

God is listening–we may not hear what we want to hear but he is inside each of us–believe in him or not, he exists. Psalm 23 tells us, that the Lord is my shepherd and there is NOTHING that we shall want. How surreal.

We all want.

We want what we want and when we want it, but life on Earth is not the final place–heaven is. Heaven is where depression and anxiety ceases to exist, a place where hate is replaced with love, and tiredness is replaced with energy. Our once closed eyes become widely open and our lips sing and speak of only love. Our ears hear the joys and the celebration that failed to exist in our “normal” world.

Depression is NOT a weakness. Depression is NOT a cop-out. Depression does NOT know age, race, creed, gender, orientation, or even species. Our pets can feel that depression and our house plants can feel the depression when starved from attention and love.

Think about it.

No one walks up to a drive through window and orders a scoop of depression with a side of anxiety. No one wants to be sad, lonely and feels the world is closing in. No one seeks from the day they are born to grow up and be a depressed person.

It happens.

Depression is a result of loss, sense of hopelessness, something that triggered the brain to malfunction. Times like these are a trigger. Trigger for heightened emotions, feelings, and even anger. Why? Fear perhaps? Loss of control or inability to do what is normal everyday? Sure. All these are possibilities.

Our place is not to fix the depression or offer apologies, tell them to get over it, that others have it worse, or that they will snap out of it–depression does not want to hear the best that you are giving to make them feel better–that’s not what depression needs.

Depression and anxiety needs understanding and support. Listen, but not speak. Hear what they are not saying. Acting on being there, even if its not convenient. Holding the person and comforting them. It is not your role to fix it.

Your role is to support. To love. To care. To respect. To seek to understand. To be the support they are seeking. If they are reaching out to you–don’t say another time, or you have given your best–that just closes the doors more for the person. Be ready. Be armed with comfort and love. You don’t need to be a miracle worker–you just need to be…

A friend.

Depression and anxiety is running high right now and we don’t know when it will end. When our lives will return to a sense of normalcy–if ever. Understand that people are handling things externally and internally. Don’t judge them. Let people express themselves. Maybe this is through writing, dancing, screaming, crying, joking around, or just asking for space. Respect them. Let them know it is OKAY to be the way they are and that they have someone by them if they need anything–and they have God.

“Trust in the Lord, you shall not tire, Trust in the Lord you shall not weaken.” “Be not afraid I am with you” “He will raise you up on eagles wing.” “I will come to you in silence,” “Beginning today my mornings are yours..” All these are songs of hope and peace. Peace and hope in knowing that GOD is always with us. He is holding our hands. He is walking with us. Through this storm, the fires of unknown, God is here.

Hard to think about–but sometimes God comes to us a imperfect person, imperfect world and imperfect time through a person we call friend. God gives us people when we may or may not think we need them. Differences aside friendships blossom. Friendship is Gods hand holding us.

Grey’s Anatomy’s introduced a term, “my person.” A person who they know will ALWAYS be there, love them, share intimacy of time and expression through life, and who will always defend them and even tell them when they are wrong. This person may be a lover or a friend. It may be someone you never thought it would be, but I encourage you to find that one person and make them your person.

The world will continue to spin and life will continue onward. Depression and anxiety will tax us over time and it is perfectly okay to feel this way–just know that this too will pass–and that you are never alone–find that person who will be there in drought or in flood, in good or in bad, who will love you and comfort you, and who truly be there no matter what when you need them. This is the best medicine for depression.

Know that God is with you and that no matter the darkness you are NEVER alone. Be the candle that burns brightly and strong when given the chance. Be okay with allowing the candle to burn out and rest. Let your body rebuild, just like the liquid wax of the candle that re-hardens with the intent to burn again.

Depression is not black and white, but neither is the promise of life.

Nick

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