I’m All Alone
This is my depression song. Some friends asked me recently if I’d been writing any new stuff and I told them, “Yeah, I just finished my depression song.” I got some blank stares, silence, and finally “Oh, that’s nice. Anything else?” I guess people just aren’t comfortable talking about depression. I write Christian music and a lot of Christians don’t feel you should be depressed if you have faith. We’re not supposed to be depressed, we have Jesus- you know the story.
Of course, being fake about stuff like this doesn’t do you any good. The bible is actually totally open about this subject and doesn’t try to hide it. Nobody wants to be depressed, but if you are, talking about it with others can really help. The bible also tells us to pour our hearts out to God. There’s nothing wrong with crying out and admitting you need help!
The stigma of depression
Still, there’s a stigma when it comes to being depressed. It’s not like when you get sick and everyone feels bad for you- especially if your depression is long term. People understand that many physical illnesses are long term and debilatating, but when it comes to depression people begin to wonder “what your problem is” if it continues too long.
I knew a Pastor once whose wife was very depressed and it cost the guy his job. The church couldn’t understand why his wife “couldn’t just get over it” and move on, or why her husband couldn’t take care of it for her- after all, he was the Pastor! Any Pastor worth his salt should be able to get his wife out of her depression, right? He loved his wife and eventually had to leave the church because the people there couldn’t deal with a Pastor whose wife was depressed.
This Pastor didn’t want to leave his church- he had to leave to help his wife.
So right out of the gates I want to make it clear- Yes, this is my depression song. I wrote it because I really felt like this. It sounds desperate and alone and without hope because that’s exactly how I was feeling at the time. But here’s the crazy thing- I don’t know even know why I was so depressed! My wife was being terrific, we had no money problems, we were both healthy. In fact, God had just answered a huge prayer and done some pretty awesome things for us. What did I have to be depressed about?
But I was!
And not just a little bit.
Why am I so depressed?
A very good Christian author that I think the world of basically says in one of his books that there’s never a good reason for Christians to be depressed-ever, that’s it’s just a bad testimony to the world around us. I suppose if you think of it, he’s technically correct. In Jesus we have everything we need for life. But there’s also something called facing reality. I had to do that, for example, when my Mom got cancer and she ended up dying. Naming and claiming and proclaiming that “Jesus heals” didn’t stop that from happening. Just as it is often true among non-Christians, facing reality is something we as Christians often try to avoid. We pretend, we fake it, we hide behind our Christian smiles, but the bible majors in reality. I’m glad it does, because being fake is not going to help me if I’m depressed.
If you want to find a place in the bible that echoes how you really feel the Psalms are a good place to start. Psalms is just another word for songs- so you have a collection of songs here and it would make a pretty eclectic playlist if you could put them in your iPod. You can’t, of course, because these are just the lyrics, but they’re a window into the songwriter’s heart. They’re especially a window into the heart of those who are on a spiritual journey and are trying to understand life in relationship to God.
King David wrote many of the Psalms. He wrote his songs as he went though the various seasons of his life. Like most songwriters his songs came from his own life experiences, so we have everything from the mountaintop heights when he was an important political ruler to his time alone in the desert tending sheep when nobody knew his name. When he was alone in the desert as a young man doing his job tending sheep he wrote about the things that were on his heart. He sings about victory and crushing defeat-from loving God to some pretty ugly sins he committed. It’s all there in the psalms.
In one of his songs he asks himself, “Why am I so depressed?”
That’s actually a very good question! A lot of times we really don’t have an answer to that. We just know that we are and that we can’t seem to get out from under it. When I go to the Psalms I see myself written across those pages…
“Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?…” ( Psalm 43:5)
Why am I feeling this way????
I should have no reason for feeling like I do… Everything’s going pretty good, so why do I feel so bad?”
Put your hope in God
There is a certain comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way. From King David to Charles Spurgeon men of even the greatest faith have struggled with depression. Spurgeon was well acquainted with “causeless depression” which he described as “shapeless, undefinable, yet all-beclouding hopelessness”. Spurgeon battled depression from an early age and came to this conclusion: “The iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back.”
King David reasoned with himself likewise:
“Put your hope in God…” (Psalm 43:5)
I borrowed David’s words for my own song. They were what came to mind as I came to the conclusion of what otherwise would be a very gloomy ending.
It may not seem like much, but those few words held on to can be like a life vest. They’re just there at the tail end of my song crying out while I feel like I’m being carried out to the deep, but those words are my “words of life”. It’s just that very thing that God will do for you. When you think you are sunk He will throw you a life vest! You are bobbing up and down in your depression and numb to everything, but that word from Him keeps your head above the water.
“Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)
We need the Psalms, past and present, not just the happy praise songs, but also the gut wrenching cries of desperation. We need them because we need to know that we’re really not alone, that others have been where we are- we need them because they hold words of life and hope when we’re feeling hopeless.
For more on Spurgeon’s battle with depression and the insights he gained from it see “Do you see the glory of God in the sun? Spurgeon’s battle with depression” by Justin Taylor. I especially like the “remedy of nature” that Spurgeon talks about. A short, but excellent post, for those who are suffering with depression!