Like Ash

Depression makes everything pass through me. Or at least, everything that could give me even the remotest form of pleasure or comfort. Like I’m full of holes.

I’m a colander. Shaped like a bowl, but unable to hold water like everyone else. I can keep filling it and filling it but it’s never enough. It doesn’t make a difference. And in fact, because I keep trying and I have the water there for a few heartbreaking moments before it’s gone, drained away as if it had never existed, it makes the following emptiness that much worse.

The only thing that’s left in the bottom of the collander is the pain. The bitter dregs. The darker thoughts. The dead weights attached to my ankles that make dragging myself out of bed feel as if I’ve crawled on my hands and knees across a bed of nails just to make it to the other side of my room.

I’m a walking wound. An exposed nerve. A rotting tooth.

If you haven’t seen the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, then I’ll give you a brief insight into a scene that has haunted me for nearly two decades since I first saw the film, namely because it is such a visceral analogy for depression. (If you have seen it, bear with me, dear friend, as I explain a bit of the plot!) The villains (of the supernatural kind) in the film are a crew of cursed pirates. The vast majority of the time, they look normal to everyone else. No one would know they were cursed should they see them; only the moonlight in the dead of night reveals their true state. In the scene, the cursed pirate captain reveals the torment of his existence. He hungers and thirsts, but can never be satisfied because anything he drinks passes straight through his (true) skeletal form, and anything he eats turns to ash in his mouth. He can’t even feel anything, not wind or the spray of the sea. He is numb.

He is, to put it simply, alive but not living. Which is exactly what depression feels like.

You look alive. Your body is alive. You hunger. You thirst. But nothing satisfies because nothing has taste. Your physical senses remain, but you are internally numb to them. Every pleasure turns to ash, every hope escapes like water through holes, until all desire for anything good, and even the remembrance of what it was once like to desire anything good, fades and slips away like a shadow swallowed by shadows.

I am speaking of the deep, though. The pit. The Black Dog, as Winston Churchill called it (who was bipolar, by the way). The “dark night of the soul,” to quote St. John of the Cross. Depression, like any other sickness, presents itself in “good” days and “bad” days. It varies, waxes and wanes, peaks and falls. Praise God all of my depression (which lasts about 320 days per year) is not as horrific as I’ve just described. Though it is close to that on a regular basis lately as I’ve struggled to find healing for my brain following what happened last Spring Break.

As I’ve spoken of in my previous post concerning the ways in which I’ve coped my whole life, the only true source of relief I’ve found, is Jesus Christ, primarily through the Word of God.

Over the years, the Lord has given me what I call my “anchor” verses. I will be vulnerable and say the Lord has used them to literally save my life.

I’ll list them below for any of you, dear friends, who also struggle with the pain as I do, or who perhaps know someone who does. I hope they bless you as they’ve blessed me. You’re not alone! You matter to God, and He wrote these words to you. Yes, to others, but also to you, to you personally, you specifically, with you in mind… Blessings, friend.

(In regards to those sleepless nights–like this one is for me (it’s now 2:52 AM)–and the tears…so many tears.)

You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?

Psalm 56:8

(Jesus understands my pain!)

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.

Isaiah 53:3-4a

(Again! Jesus understands me. I am not alone. And He is with me unto the end of the age!)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

(This is one of my oldest tattoos…)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Revelation 21:4

(God Himself weeps for us and prays for us constantly…what mysterious, beautiful love!)

…the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26b

(This gives me comfort knowing that what I’m suffering is truly horrific and God isn’t up there on His throne telling me to get over it, that it’s all in my head, that I’m overreacting. He understands.)

A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

Proverbs 18:14

(In regards to struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm or addictive behavior/unhealthy coping/self-medicating.)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

2 thoughts on “Like Ash

  1. It’s so hard to read the first part of this post, but I needed to. There’s no hope unless there’s first the temptation to despair. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and story, it has helped me to understand the cross of depression and anxiety and therefore weep for those who bear it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have no idea how much you’ve just encouraged me, friend! Last night was dark. I finally silenced the false guilt from the enemy of once again feeling like a burden, and woke my husband up (even though he’s a pastor and had to be by 7 this morning) so he could pray for me and hold me. Thank God for him. I feel I was writing it more to preach to myself than anything else—and to glorify God. Worship is another mighty weapon against the dark nights. He’s the only reason I’m still here and He is worthy of all the praise…
      Thank you again, and I pray the Lord uses you mightily in the lives of those around you who struggle with depression and anxiety. 💙
      PS
      I love the name of your profile! That is one of my tattoos—The aim of our charge is love! 😍🥰

      Liked by 1 person

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