I’ll start this off as I have my previous blogs on the subject: My name is David. And I’m a pastor who deals with bouts of depression.
I don’t specialized in the medical or psychological field, but as one who fights a personal battle while refusing to let others stand alone in theirs. My depression is considerably lower than others and happens, perhaps, less frequent as yours. I will not compare my pain to yours but would implore you from the beginning of this post:
You are not alone.
You have hope.
You can get help.
Back in 2005, my wife and I found ourselves in England with 25 students working in a local church Peterborough. Of all of the experiences of the trip, one phrase we heard there always comes to mind when I think of England: please mind the gap. If you take the London metro, you’ll hear it over and over. It’s the warning to pay attention to the space between the platform and the train. The announcement isn’t about falling into a hole (gap) as much as it’s trying to keep you from tripping into (or out of) the metro because of a few inches of a “gap.”
Luke 4 has, perhaps, one of my favorite stories about Jesus. He is in a crowd of people (which wasn’t out of the norm). Unless he purposefully pulled away from the crowds, they were always around him pressing against him.
And it was here that a woman who’d been isolated in her physical, mental, and emotional struggles pushed through the crowd to reach him and perhaps be healed. What is out of the “norm” was Jesus response. Why? It seems so odd based off his surroundings.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” Luke 8:45-46
Most people who approach me to ask questions about my depression are those who don’t battle with it. Honestly, it’s encouraging. And the most asked question is this, “What does it feel like?” Before you think I’m going to talk specifically about the woman the story, you may need to step back and see something else in this very familiar biblical story.
Luke 8:45-46 gives you that glimpse into that world of deep despair. And it’s not necessarily what the woman was going through but what Jesus experienced.
I’m not advocating that Jesus was or battled with depression. But it’s the situation that paints a graphic picture of what those of us experience when the “funk” comes our way. Luke 8, tells us that his question of “who touched me” confused his disciples. In the midst of a crowd that was “pressing up against” him, how could he NOT notice them? How did he miss all the people around him?
Depression is the experience of complete loneliness while being surrounded by a mass of people. We can be in a stadium of people and yet, not detect any connection for which anything of relational or emotional substance is “transferred.” I’ve heard it said to me, “how can you feel that way, you are surrounded by people all the time.” But again, there’s a difference between proximity and intimacy. Being around someone (proximity) doesn’t equal meaningful contact (intimacy) with them.
So then the next question comes up, “How can I help someone in depression?” The answer comes from the same portion of scripture. “Someone deliberately touched me.”
I recognize the word “touch” in our culture is a very sensitive word. Unfortunately, “touch” has been abused and taken to massive extremes. Research tells us we need 8-10 meaningful touches a day to be healthy. It proves that the presence of a crowd doesn’t equate to meaningful connection.
We need to “deliberately” reach out. A hand on the shoulder. A hug. A handshake. Don’t even write off the awkward “hi-five.” Intentional touches are intimate interactions.
Yet don’t assume “touch” is limited to the physical (which is critically necessary). There are simple and effective “touches” that should be done that may not touch the skin but touch the soul.
A timely phone call.
Sitting down for a cup of good coffee.
A note sent via snail mail.
A thoughtful gift.
These are the simple things to cross the “gap” that depression creates in the mind. That gap that we think separates us from everyone else and feeling deep loneliness.
The friend or loved one you know who’s battling with this terrible condition doesn’t need you to “mind the gap;” he/she needs you to deliberately reach out and be a bridge over it. I know how those of us act and/or come off when we are in this mode. It would seem we want to push people away or we just “need to be alone.” But there’s a difference between “needing some space” and isolating ourselves. Help us know you’re there. Be available to us. Be patient with us.
What is powerful is amidst all of the people around Jesus in Luke 8, one deliberate touch caused something powerful to be transferred. Like I said, Jesus wasn’t battling with depression, but I’m willing to bet the woman did. To study this passage, you know the condition of isolation she lived in physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Yet a touch transferred healing, hope, mercy, peace, and love.
If you are dealing with depression, if you are in a place of inner turmoil, don’t stop reaching out. I know you’re tired. You are not alone. You have hope. You can get help. And deliberately reaching out puts you in position for healing.
If know you know someone, who is dealing with this, please don’t mind the gap. Depression doesn’t need distance. Reach out and transfer faith, hope, and love into them. Be the community they cannot detect.
If you find yourself in a place where you need someone to talk to, reach out. Don’t do this on your own. Whether it’s to your pastor, a counselor, a trusted friend, or to Anthem of Hope , know that you are not alone in this. If anything, let this blog be the first hand to reach out to you.
I love you. I’m praying for you today. There are those around you that can help.
Thanks for letting me ramble…