Sorrow and Beauty

April 30, 2009

I am one of God’s children, joyfully created and dearly loved by the Creator of the universe who would do anything for me.

I struggle with severe depression and feel like I should be dead, or better yet, never born, because I am completely worthless.

These two things seem contradictory but may be the two strongest driving forces in my life. At certain times, one or the other is more true, and by God’s grace, the latter is fading a little. But it hasn’t disappeared, and probably never will. Writing is an attempt to master it somehow and figure out how I can both be one of God’s saints and be so totally broken (maybe beyond repair?) at the same time.

When I use the word depression, I do not mean the sadness that you feel when someone has died, the pain of a difficult life transition, or the lack of fulfillment that comes with being stuck in a rut. I mean the soul-crushing darkness that only someone who has felt it can understand. I mean a sadness, desperation, and despair so overwhelming that I can’t stay standing and can’t catch my breath. Sometimes there’s an obvious reason, but more often there is nothing I can point to.

This lack of causation makes the situation even worse. I have nothing to point to, to say, “See! This tragedy has made me not be able to cope with life!” Instead, I find myself with no excuses, trying to swim through the mud; to keep my head above water somehow when everything in me wants to give up and just get carried away by the tide.

This is when I want to erase myself.

I’ve been feeling better lately, largely due to some new medication. I’m finding that I can enjoy time with friends and don’t spiral down nearly as quickly or easily. Things that were triggers for me and would send me into a tailspin a few months ago – not able to stop sobbing or get up off the floor – are more like minor annoyances. At the same time, I am noticing an underlying sadness.

I think part of this sadness is mourning for all the time I have lost to depression. There is a lot of my life that I spent hating myself fiercely, and feeling totally hopeless. I will never get that time back. (Or will I? The Bible has a lot to say about God being our Redeemer – will these years be redeemed?)

But I’m afraid it’s more than that. I’m afraid that I will always feel an undercurrent of sadness when I see beauty in life. Why does beauty – in landscapes, relationships, dogs who love you unconditionally, the power of the ocean – make me sad? The depression has stolen most of my past. I don’t want it taking away the joy in my present and future.