It was about a year ago that three significant things happened that finally made me go to the doctors about the possibility that I had depression. Over the course of one week, a friend told me that he’d been diagnosed with mild depression and spoke positively about medication, I heard Katharine Welby-Roberts speak about her experiences and then the amazing Robin Williams sadly took his own life. Any of those things on their own might not have been enough for me to build up the courage to go to the doctors but the three combined did it.
I’m not a die-hard Robin Williams fan or anything but something about suicide and depression showing no respect for someone’s status, wealth or popularity stopped me in my tracks. If Robin Williams could feel so bereft of hope that he could hang himself, then maybe I should stop my own denial. Because a lack of hope was certainly something I could, and sometimes still can, relate to.
Hope. One of the Bible’s big three, often over shadowed by the heavyweights of love and faith. And yet hope is something I think we need more and more of these days. I follow a little known band called Iko, and in their song Lightening Bolts is this line:
“Hope is a big word, here’s some more to hold it in.”
The idea that hope was too big for any one of us to contain stuck with me. And as I think of my own depression and the tragic end to Robin Williams’ life, it seems to me that it is more important than ever that we learn how to help each other hold on to hope, especially when it is too big for a person to grasp.
The best thing anyone has said to me upon finding out I have depression was: ‘That’s beatable, and you’ll beat it.’ Why? Simply because it gave me hope. Hope that isn’t there when my mind tells me I’m a failure and no one would notice if I faded from existence. Hope that is stolen from me when all I want to do is stay in bed and then feel guilty for doing so. Hope that drives me to seek help in as many ways as possible, spiritual and medical (if indeed they can be separated.)
As a Christian I have the biggest hope anyone could have – that Jesus has the final say, and it is good. Of course as someone who suffers depression this hope is often the one I need most help holding in. For me that’s why Christian family is so important. Be it online, over the phone, or in person. Having people who struggle to hold on to this hope that seems too good to be true, and yet they still do it, and best of all help me to, is what I need.
In the Bible, Peter says we should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have inside of us. In this day and age where individualism seems to be over-promoted I think we all need a little more hope.