When I was 17 years old, I decided I wanted to die.
For over a year I had struggled with a deep sadness, later diagnosed as dysthymic disorder, a low-grade, chronic depression.
The diagnosis of this less severe form of depression was a slap in the face to me, a senior in high school who believed chronic meant I would always be depressed.
Painfully self-aware, I hated my body, my mind and my identity. The future stretched before me, a bleak, gray, interminable landscape. I decided a life like I pictured was not worth living, and I thought it courageous of me to choose my own ending.
A switch in medication provided enough of an altered mentality for me to gather the courage to attempt suicide. First, I cut down on eating. I decided if I were to die, at least I would be thinner.
Days later, I realized how long starving myself to death would take, so I stopped drinking water. I even brewed myself disgustingly strong coffee to further dehydrate myself.
Then I took pills. My antidepressants, leftover pain medication, muscle relaxers, and a couple dozen ibuprofen for good measure.
Still, the medication did not take effect for hours. I wandered by the railroad tracks near my home and thought of heaven. Later that night, I became dizzy and started vomiting in the shower. Suddenly, I knew I couldn’t die.
I told my mother what I’d done, and she rushed me to the emergency room. As we waited, I forbade her from crying.
I spent hours in the ER with an IV in my arm, vomiting as the room spun and visions danced on the walls.
It was only later, in the psych ward I’d been taken to for observation, that I realized what I’d done. I sobbed and pleaded with a doctor to let me out—I couldn’t compromise my athletic and scholastic collegiate opportunities—all to no avail.
Nearly 72 hours later, I left the hospital with my mom, and a new lease: I was going to make my life count.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. No matter the goodness in my life, still I fought darkness with all my might.
I struggled the summer before college, hurting myself as punishment for my perceived deficiencies. And I struggled in college, swinging from high to low, seeking only to numb the pain and distract myself from the voice that whispered death inside my head.
Only later did I acknowledge that voice for what it was: the devil.
Depression is a physical disease, but it’s more than that. It’s a spiritual attack from the devil, who seeks only to steal joy, leaving a void within.
Once I saw myself for what I truly am—a sinner, saved by the grace of God with an identity in Jesus Christ—was I able to love myself as Christ loves me.
And once I did that, I equipped myself to fight depression with truth.
The devil told me I was worthless: God says I have immeasurable value.
The devil told me I was ugly and disgusting: God says I am beautiful, full of His glory.
The devil told me I should die: God says I will live forever in the light of His love.
God has given us the power of medicine to fight a physical illness, but He also gives us the authority of His name and truth to drive out darkness. Both are necessary to battle depression.
Here’s my opinion: Depression can be fought, even staved off, without God, but cannot truly be conquered without His power.
Darkness is temporary, and can always be driven out by the light. Do not give up; the night will always pass.
As for me, I no longer live with the depression I thought would control my life. Though I go through periods of darkness, I am always able to see the light of God’s grace and goodness. He gave me a second chance in life, and He has the power to do that for everyone.
Hope springs eternal.