Dark night, interrupted by nursing. Baby asleep, the young mother stopped before leaving the room.
Through the doorway, she saw the dim light in the bathroom softly pouring across the hallway floor.
Shadows recoiled from the small light.
Too many still loomed.
Turning, she pressed her back against the door frame and leaned.
She looked down at her feet on the hardwood floor.
Bare toes, one foot inside the room, the other out.
She stood in the darkness, straddled between room and hall.
Straddled between life and death.
The bathroom door waited on her right side. It led to razor blades and water warm.
And to the left, baby (her baby) lay in his crib.
Palpable pressure laid the path to escape the pain.
Thick air filled her lungs.
And to the left, gentle wisps sucked in and exhaled out. Three months old. His breath smelled sweet, like flowers.
The command to escape wasn’t audible, wasn’t from within, wasn’t really real, so she thought. But after months of fighting the constantly welling tears, the fear that plagued her daily, she had grown tired – tired of the weight of the sadness that descended, deepened, and refused departure.
In fighting against stereotypes and judgment, treatment still remained a concept “the weak” used. She just needed to “pull herself out of it,” so she was told.
So she tried.
But the depths of depression pulled her down like cement blocks.
And this night, she did all that she could.
Tonight, “all that she could” meant to simply stand.
Tonight, strength meant to not move…to not take a step toward the bathroom.
Stand. For life.
Silent tears streamed down her face.
She wanted to call for help – she desperately wanted rescuing, not death. For months now, the idea of describing to another the hellish thoughts that plagued her consciousness kept her silent. Once, to someone close to her, she bravely timidly offered, “I might be depressed,” and a contrary lecture ensued.
One more time a sliver of bravery bubbled through the murky black depths of depression. All she could do in an attempt to call for help at the top of her voice emerged barely a whisper, “Post-partum depression – I think I might have it,” she revealed through tears.
This time the lecturer, a pillar of religion, centered judgment around her “lack of prayer” and “lack of faith,” although neither assertion was true. She couldn’t disagree, however, because her cry for help used up the last bit of bravery within her.
And she did pray, she did have faith, she did beg God to heal her.
And He had said, “Not this way.”
So she hung on, until it all became too much, and lies promised freedom from torment and tears by way of blood mixed with water until life ebbed silently away.
She looked at the bathroom door.
The baby stirred and then sighed asleep still.
Husband’s alarm sounded. Five o’clock AM.
The groggy man entered the hallway and spied his bride leaning in the doorway to the baby’s room. He stopped, confused. “What’s wrong?”
A long pause…then, “I’m not safe.”
“Here,” he said, wrapping his arms around her. “Come back to bed. I’ll hold you.” She relaxed and let him walk her back to the bedroom.
He kept his word and held her until she finally fell asleep.
And he took her to the doctor that day. They asked the hard questions. She did her best to answer.
Then there was medicine.
And finally, hope.
And five weeks later, she smiled again.
Three babies more each brought the torment of hell on earth in the form of post-partum depression. Each time was a little easier, due to earlier medical intervention. Even the miscarriage brought the dark despair to the forefront of her experience for a brief time.
She breathed life through gray until the drug kicked in, and then her eyes focused on the sunshine and colors of life abundant once more. Having been the “girl with the positive attitude” and the woman whose eyes and smile “lit up the room,” depression’s harsh reality came as an intense, cruel surprise. And regardless of how much others judged, criticized or commented the truth simply wasn’t pretty. And she was one of the blessed ones – medicine helped her.
There was a friend of hers, a girl in high school, that it hadn’t worked for…
Relief for her was found in the bathtub.
Don’t you know someone who has committed suicide? A few decades on this planet, and it is likely that you do.
I don’t know why we sometimes miss opportunities to show love to one another when suffering brings horrible circumstances into another’s life. And we all know people right now who are enduring difficulties beyond our comprehension. Perhaps our lack of understanding comes from our lack of experience, and that is judgment, which is a sin. Just because we have not experienced something does not mean it is not very real for the sufferer. How dare we hold ourselves in such high esteem?
As we have seen through the life of Jesus, judgment condemns and separates, compassion connects.
Dare you today, if you are suffering with depression, to get help – maybe therapy, maybe meds, but do something about it – you don’t have to feel like this any longer. If you are judging yourself as “weak,” let that go. It’s a lie.
Dare you today to pray for Pastor Rick Warren and his family who have lost one of their children to suicide this week. Regardless of what you think about him or his theology, he is a grieving father, worthy of compassion. Would you want to walk in his shoes? And remember, if we have issue with someone who sins against us, we are to take it to him personally, instead of gossip about him.
Double dog dare you to have some compassion toward those dealing with circumstances or illnesses, mental or otherwise that you have no personal experience with – the easy thing is to judge, but perhaps, if finding yourself in the same situations, you might have done the same thing. Who are we to criticize someone without asking them questions or confronting their sin against us Matthew 18 style? I am reminded of a pastor friend of mine who was criticized for having dinner in a bar once a week – turns out, that was his “off duty ministry.” He was reaching the lost by going where they would be found.
Often we find we are wrong in our assumptions when we take the time to inquire instead of assign blame.
Dare you to engage in dialogue and seek understanding instead of dishing judgment today and all days.
Luke 6:33-42 (ESV) And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” 39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Love to you,