Today I’ve been walking the black dog. Generally I keep him locked in the basement. But from time to time he breaks out – and takes me with him. You might have spotted me, yelling or throwing an imaginary bone. But I doubt you’ll have noticed him. To tell the truth, I’m not even sure he’s there.
That’s the thing about depression. It doesn’t really exist. Or rather, it exists for other people – but not you.
You know the checklist: loss of interest in normal activities, difficulty sleeping, sustained low mood, hopelessandhelplessandeverythinggrey. You could tick a lot of the boxes – except ticking boxes requires thought. Thought however, is not happening. The tiniest decisions send you spiralling into the dark place you swore you’d kissed goodbye. You’re brain-bogged and leaky and stuck. You’re Tired.
Busy at work.
But one thing’s for sure:
You’re not depressed.
If a friend came to you with these symptoms, you’d give them a hug. But you’re different. You don’t deserve help.
You’re a drain. la-
A series of negatives. Not washing, not sleeping, not exercising, not working.
Not a person. And not a Christian either.
Because a Christian would just have faith, right?
A Christian would pray and trust and read the psalms and know that God was there.
They’d cry out and God would answer and it’d all be okay. Not instant healing necessarily, but at least a chink of light.
Surely they’d feel something?
And if in the darkness, they still had no sense of hope
Are they still a Christian?
Is the blackness real? Or is Jesus – the baby and the man and the risen Lord – still brighter?
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters,so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Image from ‘Living with a Black Dog’ by Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone ( picture-book on depression which is also quite brilliant).