I hadn’t planned on posting something by myself today. I did have another guest post lined up – which you’ll now see next Monday. You see, this morning something happened which changed my plans. An experience, a story, I knew I had to share with you today.
As I write, it’s 7.26am on a cold Monday morning, three days before Christmas. I can hear the rustling of the wind outside, the quiet hollows of a force so much more powerful. But this force of nature feels as nothing right now, against the power of the many noiseless but resounding voices of support I’m feeling through social media.
The oxygen of solidarity. Shining a glimmer of hope.
And I understand in an instant the power of two of the most powerful words in the universe:
Recently I’ve been struggling with a form of depression related to my medical condition, epilepsy. I’ve never felt so low as to be suicidal, but I have had the moments where I’ve wanted to give up. Where the ‘black dog’, as Churchill called it, of depression, has overwhelmed me and tempted me to stop caring.
Some with depression respond to this by under-eating. I do the opposite. Comfort eating is my own way of giving up on life.
I was having a particularly low moment yesterday. But I didn’t share it on social media in all it’s detail. I didn’t want to start hosting pity parties on social media, or anywhere for that matter.
So I just posted the following:
‘Depression sucks. That is all’.
I didn’t expect or even desire a response. I just needed someone to hear where I was.
In hindsight, all I wanted was someone to say ‘Me too’.
I have several friends who have either struggled with depression or are currently struggling with it. Many of them posted messages of support, offering prayer, in the comments on my post. Many who had never struggled with depression did the same.
The strange thing was, I began to think of the loss of my Mum, nearly 15 years ago. Not because it’s linked to my depression – it’s not – but because since then, I’ve been able to help others going through something similar.
And sharing my story, being able to use the pain I experienced to support & love others, somehow made sense of my suffering.
Being able to say ‘Me too’ to someone made me feel like there was a purpose to it. That my loss was not for nothing. It gave life to the death I’d been through.
And now I was experiencing the other side of this.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting such an outpouring of support. My self-worth isn’t that huge, and I often resign myself to the so-called truth that I’m just never going to be Mr Popular, well-loved, hugely respected. I kind of accepted I just don’t matter as much, and any attempt by me to share my struggles is just attention seeking and a pity party. And I’ve always struggled to trust people – a remnant of a painful childhood.
But this thread on social media – and don’t anyone tell me social media isn’t real, ever, because this was real – killed these thoughts stone dead.
I felt as the evening wore on and I read more comments, that I was not alone. I realised I did matter to a lot more people than I realised.
I heard the voices of others who had been in my shoes – or were even in the same shoes I was right now – saying ‘Me too’. And suddenly I felt alive. I felt I mattered.
My pain was validated. It wasn’t a pity party, and I wasn’t alone.
The pain was real, it mattered, I mattered, and I wasn’t alone.
I saw the power of solidarity. Knowing others had been where I was and come through, and hearing people’s prayers pour over me, gave me hope.
And I also knew that one day, I will get to use this to help someone else. Maybe sooner than I could ever predict.
The powerful, healing wind I breathed in, will be breathed out and carried along to someone else.
Because this is how it works. There is, in some mixed up way, a purpose to our pain.
It means something.
Just as others pain gave me hope, and provided oxygen to sustain me in this time, so mine will do for others.
And in some absurd way, this promise that my pain could give life to others, gave me a glimmer of hope for myself. I saw that darkness doesn’t have to be death. Suffering is neither eternal nor final, even if it often seems this way.
You are not alone. And your suffering isn’t the end of the story. (you can tweet that)
The Absurd Hope
There are others who have been where you are, who want to share their voices with you. And one day, your story will give life to someone else. Even in the midst of depression, I see now there could be a time when this darkness might become light for someone else.
And this truth reminds me my darkness can, and will, come to an end.
I understood, finally, the truth of one of the most life-giving phrases in all creation:
This doesn’t make the pain easier to endure. It doesn’t make it any less real. But it provides a ray of light in the darkness. And, although it sounds cheesy, one ray of light can make all the difference.
Once the room was pitch black with no hint of light. Now there is, at the very least, a faint glimmer. And as we all know, even one small chink of light in a dark room changes the view entirely.
That’s why I’m sharing this post today. In the absurd belief my story might provide hope to someone else.
Light has shone in my darkness, through the oxygen of solidarity.
I know darkness doesn’t speak the final word – but instead, the faint light of hope, in knowing we aren’t alone in our suffering. In knowing there is hope beyond the blackness we see this day.
And sometimes, that’s all we need.
Here’s two short videos on the power of solidarity, and how sharing our story, and hearing others’, gives hope & life to us all. Check these out today:
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(Picture Source: WordPress)
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