Perspectives by Rev. Clarence Witten


Depressed, You Are Not Alone

My heart aches for people who are depressed. I’ve been there. It’s no fun. 

Actually, it was easily the worst experience of my life. It was like living in a black hole. I felt helpless and hopeless, pretty much hating life. All my buddies were having the time of their lives (or so it seemed), and I was living in this dark world on my own.

The sad thing was no one had a clue what I was going through. I didn’t think anyone would understand, and I probably didn’t think they’d really care anyway.

What made it worse was that I didn’t know what in the world I was going through. Nor did I know what to do about it.

There were times when I was tempted to just end it all. It was probably a good thing that the small college I was studying at only had low buildings. I realized that jumping from them probably wouldn’t do the job.

Looking back, I still don’t understand why I went through what I did. 

Doctors talk about depression being caused by chemical imbalances. They say they can be triggered by everyday stuff like stress and tiredness. Or by going through other tough things. Me, I can’t pinpoint what made me so depressed.

What I have learned since is that I’m hardly the only one who’s struggled this way. 

I’m told that about one out of every five young people will suffer from depression. Many of these will have suicidal thoughts. Far more will attempt it than most of us realize. And what’s so desperately sad are the numbers who will succeed.

Considering what I went through myself, I now know that there were better ways of handling it. I wish I would have had the courage to talk to others and would have realized that there were people around who cared. And I wish I would have asked for professional help. I regret that I went through it alone.

Likewise today it breaks my heart to read of the Amanda Todds and all those who go through awful times or severe depressions. I ache for those who think there’s no way out but to end it all. 

The truth is that for all of us there are people who will listen; there are those who care, and there are qualified people who can help like doctors and guidance counselors.

One other thing that kept me going in my own dark tunnel was that I always had a vague sense that I wasn’t completely alone. I knew that there was a God in heaven who still loved me. 

Sure, I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t just make my sadness go away. I wondered why he didn’t answer my prayers just to make me happy again. But I did feel that there was hope. That someday the sun would shine again. And thankfully it did.

Depression is common and more so at this time of the year. So let’s be caring and sensitive to those around us. 

I love the quote attributed to Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” 

Let’s also listen carefully and ask questions of our loved ones. Look and listen for changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, withdrawal, and sadness. Follow-up when they talk of suicide or death, when they get rid of their things, or when they quit stuff they used to enjoy.

And if it’s us who are depressed… wondering if we can go on, please talk. Please don’t go it alone. 

Know there really are people around who care and that can help. And know that God does love you dearly. With help, with him, you do have a brighter future. Better days will come. 

Like me, you’ll look back one day and say, “Whew. Thank God I got through that.”

Pastor Clarence Witten

Community Christian 

Reformed Church

Dixon’s Corners

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