When the Fog is Thicker than Normal

I have a history of depression.

Lately it’s been more of a current event.

Some people wonder what it means to have depression. How is it different from just a “normal” bad mood? Doesn’t everyone go through low points? Is it really a medical diagnosis? Sometimes I even ask myself these questions, even though I should know better. My brain knows how to internalize even the slightest hint of disapproval or questioning in another person’s eyes or tone of voice. Sometimes everything seems to point to the fact that “depression” is obviously just a fancy word that someone came up with to shut those of us up who can’t accept that we are really just melodramatic, overly sensitive and lazy.

When my sanity returns, I remember that I don’t have to win a philosophical argument on psychiatry or defend the vocabulary of mental illness to speak about my personal experience. And speaking up is important, not only for my own mental health, but because there are so many others out there who think they are alone and need to hear a word of encouragement and hope from a fellow sufferer.

Depression is a hard thing for me to open up about. I’ve been burned before for revealing too much. I’ve realized the hard way that some things are better shared with more private audiences than on a public forum. Even in a safe, private setting, I often struggle to summon the humility to discuss where I’m at openly and honestly. It all feels like something I should be over by now. It certainly wasn’t on my life roadmap to call the doctor complaining about fatigue and other symptoms I thought must be hormonal and have HIM be the one to suggest that perhaps we should switch my antidepressant. I mean, for years now, any adjustment to medication has been at MY suggestion, not the doctor’s. I thought I was the expert on this thing, but somehow, this time, I missed the key signs.

For me, the biggest clue should have been the apathy. Nothing is really that important when I get depressed. Lots of things start to slip because, you know, who cares. And then, all of a sudden, my normally manageable tendency to procrastinate turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy of never being good enough. I try to tell myself that I AM good enough even though a lot of my behavior is not really my best. Or that I’m not good enough, but it’s okay. I mean, that’s why we need Jesus, right? It’s okay to be perfectly imperfect, right?

These affirmations fall flat, because at the end of the day, things are not okay when you’re depressed. And coming out of depression requires you to admit that first.

Yes, I need Jesus. We all do. No, I’m not perfect, and I don’t have to be. But depression isn’t about making good or bad choices. Depression removes your power to choose and clouds your judgment. It becomes a fog that is impossible to see through without help.

Help for depression involves doctors and therapists, because mental illnesses really are medical conditions. I’m not sure there really is a “normal,” but I do know depression is more than just a bad mood. And while everyone may go through low points, and everyone certainly has her own burden in life, not everyone’s lows qualify as depression and not everyone’s burden is mental illness. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t mine, but it is.

Even though it can still creep up on me when I’m least expecting it, today I know I don’t have to walk through depression alone. God is with me always, even in my lowest points. Even when I doubt Him, He is there. I just have to keep trying to seek and strive for God in honest and real ways. Sometimes that means turning my prayers upside down.

Instead of asking to be filled with the knowledge that everything’s okay, sometimes I need to cry out to God that everything is NOT okay. This admission of powerlessness and acceptance is often exactly what I need to start to see God again through the fog. Sometimes I see Him through the people He puts in my life exactly when I need them. Other times, it’s through moments of clarity He gives me deep inside my soul. It is in those moments that I have come to realize that none of us are ever truly alone.

If you’re struggling with depression, know that there is a healthy way out. You are not alone. Things might not be okay right now, but you can still just put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing, no matter how hard that is. And trust me, I’m not going to suggest that the next right thing for you to do is to exercise! Even though that seems to be a popular recommendation for depression, for me, it usually has to start much, much smaller!

Like, with getting out of bed.

Sometimes it’s just getting one FOOT out of the bed. Maybe even just one TOE!! It might be brushing your teeth. Or taking a shower. Or making an appointment. Or reaching out and texting a friend. Or a million other baby steps that feel like they might as well be giant leaps between two mountains. Things might not be okay right now, but if you just keep trudging along, reaching out and looking up, things will be okay.

I have a history of depression. And lately it’s been more of a current event. But having depression also means I have a history of incredible spiritual awakening and renewal, and I’ve learned to be grateful for that. My depression can create a pretty thick fog in my little corner of the universe, but when I do see the light shining through, it is all the brighter in contrast to the darkness. No matter what, by God’s grace, the future looks bright.


4 thoughts on “When the Fog is Thicker than Normal

  1. Been there since I was a kid.

    Depression runs in my family – both sides. Paternal grandmother committed suicide when she was 33 and somehow my three year old father who saw her body on the floor after she shot herself in the heart, who did not understand what he saw,- “She had fallen down, and I remember something red.” – somehow internalized her death as somehow his fault. His self loathing and conviction that he was not worthy of a happy life continued forever.

    His father had been no help to him. All Dad knew was that within a few months, during which his father was often away on business, he and his younger brother had been moved to Montreal from Sydney Nova Scotia, and there was no more contact at all with his uncle and aunt and cousins back in Cape Breton. Not ever. Then his father died when he was eight and his brother was six. And he was dispatched first to one and then another aunt and uncle. When he was accepted into a permanent placement with an aunt and uncle he and his brother were sent to boarding school.

    Back in Nova Scotia his mother’s sister spent the final twelve years of her life in the Cape Breton Hospital for the Insane.

    My mother was repeatedly hospitalized from her twenties onward for shorter durations. She was given electric shock therapy before she married my father. During my childhood she was repeatedly hospitalized for a week or two at a time. My father told me that it was my fault that my mother “needed to get away” from my sitter and me. It was my fault. Dad said so. He also forbid me to have feelings. “Feelings are symptoms of the sort of weakness your mother has.”

    My sister has been taking antidepressant meds since she was in her twenties. I finally got diagnosed and treated in my mid thirties. The saga continues.

    Sometimes the meds work, sort of. Sometimes the apathy is so deep that if the one pill that could cure me forever was across the room beside a glass of water I would not have what it takes to stand up, cross the room, and swallow the pill. Even on the meds I have more access to anger than to joy. I do not know what joy feels like. Even on my meds.

    So you have my understanding. And my respect for your continuing courage.



    • Wow. Thank you for sharing. I had no idea you had been through all of that. I hope and pray you can see that poor little girl as the beautiful and blameless child of God that she is. I will pray too for God to shower you with JOY in place of anger. Love you and am grateful for you.


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