Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Depression from the Other Side

I have never actually seen her depressed. She blogs about it. It’s her ministry to many women.  Heart heavy with the emotions and distress of how this disease has effected her life. She shares so openly and I have learned from her what I know nothing about.  Our paths don’t cross much in day to day life. Now that I think about it, not much at all.  We share a few emails and important phone calls. We read each other’s blogs. She is my go to person with my heart, my prayer concerns and I am hers on many levels too. She comes to sit with me when I am sick and brings me coffee.  I can sense when her heart might be heavy with an issue about life and marriage or even parenting.  Together we can share those burdens of our hearts and pray for each other. Help hold each other up. 

Our friendship grows from a distance because our lives are on separate parts of town. We go to different churches and we don’t share a lot of the same friends.  Even so we both know we can trust the other with the deepest parts of our hearts and we have.  Then there is today, which was a different kind of day. Today I did not know her. I was uncomfortable around her. I felt distant and then I asked her. “Are you okay?”

She had already shared earlier her need for the sun. Her need to feel the sun and how she felt down about the weather. She said she was down and was glad that she could be "this way" around friends who know her. But I did not know her today.  I did not know this kind of her. A some what depressed her.  She could explain this disease to me beautifully. Sitting at her counter drinking coffee on her good days.  She could blog about this disease with eloquent words of her heart.  I can read and learn and see first hand in written word how this disease effects this person I love, how it effects her.

Today she looked cute. All during Bible study I wanted to take my pen and flip her cute hair cut. It has that bounce that makes you want flip it. I am growing my hair out and have worn the style she is wearing and was slightly thinking to cut my hair because hers looks so cute.  Does depression have flippy cute hair?  The color of her shirt was bright and cheery. I noticed it right away because I just bought new p.j.’s with those same colors.  The weather has been so gray and dreary I needed something to brighten things up around here. She shared she was feeling down and needed to brighten things up too. We both had the same colors in mind. Does depression look bright and cheery and fashionable?  Every time I have come into her home she is chatty.  She offers a special coffee and drink and cozies into conversation.  Today she just was kind of there and not very cozy or excited to chat about any at all.  Is depression masked like this?  Is this her on her down days?

As I drove away I started to cry. I cried really hard. I cried because I love her so much. I cried because today she had to be “on” and she did a really good job of it. I cried because I have a gift in knowing her enough to know that I could ask if she was okay and she told me she was not. I cried because for the first time in my life I think I am beginning to understand what depression looks like from the outside looking in.  I have known a few people who have suffered from “situational” depression who could shake it off. I think I could raise my hand on that one.  I have never understood, like I did today what it truly looks like. Looking into the face of my sweet sister Sheri and crying my eyes out. Not knowing who to be, or what to say. Only to love her and pray and paint that banner of sunshine on a canvas. I was uncomfortable and stupid and actually said that. Like that would help her.  “I will just paint you a canvas with a big bold sunshine that you can roll out when the sun is not shining.” I know she knows I mean well. But I did not know what else to say.

Depression is like a mask on a beautiful face.  I have only ever seen this face without the mask so I know first hand how beautiful she is. Today I saw that face with the mask on and was confused. I love you Sheri and know that I am learning how to love you in all ways.  

I sent the above writing over to Sheri shortly after writing it. I asked her permission to share this on my blog.  She is so funny. She said I could flip her hair any time I feel like it and that she felt sad I was crying. My tears have since dried and I have a deeper sense of understanding for Sheri.  She told me she  was glad that I did not just tell her to get over it. I was not even sure what “it” was until I got in my car. Now that I know what “it” is I get it.  Depression.  I am thanking God that this is not an obstacle in life I have had to overcome or live with. Yet for some reason today she showed me a clearer picture of what depression looks like.  

Thank you Sheri, my dear sweet friend for not getting mad at me for being silly and stupid around your today.  Did you notice I was fidgety?  I get that way when I am a little nervous.  I also talk a little too much.  I did both. Perhaps you did not notice, but then we make a great team.  Now off to go and start that sunshine canvas for you.  Love and Blessings, Elizabeth


  1. Seriously looking forward to that canvas! Could you bring a heater over, too?

    Thank you for sharing the other side of depression. May I share it, too?

    I love that you know me. The me that has flippy cute hair... and is bright cheery and fashionable... and is chatty and cozy... and remembers to offers her cherished guests a warm cup of joe! You know me enough to know when I am not really... well, me!

  2. Because I identify with this "disease" (mental imbalance), I felt sad just reading your post, although I am not currently experiencing the down side of depression. That is because I take antidepressants everyday, and they work for me. My dad asked me once, "What do have to be depressed about?" That hurt a lot because his question made me realize that a lot of people know so little (or nothing at all) about the chemical imbalance of the brain that causes a mental "disease" (a chronic mental illness, to be more candid). It's hard to admit that, but I know it to be true. I'm so thankful that my pastor (in Vancouver, WA) sent me to a Christian physician who knew all about it, and found the right combination of meds (after "trial and error"). The very hardest, most hurtful thing, is to hear your pastor preach against this as though you just need to get closer to the Lord, spending more time in His Word, etc. I find it interesting that other mental illnesses are not held up to that same judgement. Yes, I know this one full well, even though I am so in love with Jesus, and spend much time with Him--in His word, worshipping and praising Him daily, full of His joy--the joy that comes only from knowing Him intimately.

  3. Depression can effect so many on different levels in different times of life, but those who suffer all the time with it is hard.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Just read this over at Sheri's.

    My heart is moved to an unusual place of worship in this moment. Thank you for writing poignant truth.



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