All The Times I Told Myself To Be Happy

You’ll notice while reading this blog that I started writing it in May. It’s now August and I’m finally deciding to hit “publish”…..why? Well, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s all still true (or how I feel).
  2. This is a topic I believe needs to be talked about more especially in Christian circles.
  3. I’m allowed to talk about it. This blog is MY space. There will always be people who don’t like what I say. Misinterpret what I say. Misjudge my heart. But I need this space again. The space to breathe and talk about what’s on my heart and not feel the pressure of putting some kind of pretty bow on each post.

With that caveat, here is my original post:

You should be happy, I tell myself.

Every morning when my eyes peel open and that familiar feeling awakens again.

You should be happy.

But I’m not and it’s another day of me trying to will myself into some kind of better place mentally.

The summer excitement is building in those around me:

“The weather is amazing!” “I love the sunshine!” “I can’t wait to be outside!”

And me? My entire body is filled with dread that the weather is improving and I can’t for the life of me bring myself to even open the curtains. The birds are joyfully singing at the nicer weather’s arrival and I’m barely able to get out of bed.

“How long have you been in this most recent pit?” a friend asked me. I could pinpoint the day and moment I felt this particular downturn (this is not usually the case), but if I were being honest it never really goes away. Some days it’s just easier to hide it all. If you only knew the amount of times I got into my car after being with a friend or after celebrating a holiday with my family where I cried the entire way home. The hours of having to keep things pent up and smiles on my face had taken a toll. The end of the work day similarly exhausting as I plop myself into bed immediately after turning my Slack to “away”.

“You have no reason to be depressed.” I remind myself. You have people who love you. You have a good job with a regular paycheck coming in. I’m relatively healthy. And my car seems to be running fine (except for the 3 lights on my dashboard telling me otherwise). Life is fine and yet every cell in my body feels as though it’s movement is labored.

You should be happy.

Being a Christian only compounds the pressure I feel to be happy. My depression causing me to wonder if I am the world’s worst Christian. If God’s my joy then why don’t I feel joy? Am I not too blessed to be stressed?

That last one was a joke…partially.

It’s not that I don’t think “good” Christians deal with depression, but somehow I have a grace and understanding for their struggles. I don’t once for a second question their relationship with the Lord and yet here I am convinced that somehow my faith is lacking and depression proves it.

I’ve debated writing about this for a long time because I knew I wouldn’t be able to give any answers to someone in the same spot. With no “answers”, what was the use in sharing? How could it be helpful or encouraing?

Recently I was scrolling through social media when I came across a post where someone felt like people sharing their mental health struggles/stories were simply for likes or to get attention. People sharing was actually making it worse. I don’t doubt that there are some people who might do that, but I believe the vast majority share for a few other reasons:

Raise awareness.

Bring it to the light to remove the stigma attached.

Remind other’s they aren’t alone.

To get it off their chest! THIS IS OK!! (I’m yelling at me. Not you. Sorry.)

May is Mental Health Awareness month and it seemed like as good a time as any to share some of my story. Allow myself to share something I spend a lot of time and energy trying to hide. In some small way be another voice trying to remove any religious stigma attached to it.

Depression doesn’t make you weak or some kind of subpar Christian (or person). Full stop.