“Darkness on the Edge of Town”
Have you ever had a dark cloud over your head? It’s about to pour, pour unstoppable pellets of heaviness, disdain, disgust, loneliness, apathy, and an indescribable darkness. That darkness that Springsteen writes about on his famed 1978 album is not only on the edge of town, it is everywhere and you cannot escape it. Scientist gave it a name; it is called “Depression.”
Been there, I have that Tee-shirt in every size. It started back when I was a 2XL. My friends tell me I have a way with words yet I will not even attempt to capture with a pen the most painful moments of the living hell that depression casts upon a tortured soul. Even the most diabolical of words cannot describe such an awful event where one drowns in a dormant lake of never-ending pitiful sorrow and relentless grief.
So my friends, if you had the unfortunate displeasure to experience this sinister dark side or if you are experiencing it now, know that you are not alone and I understand you. Someone actually understanding me when it struck me was the only thing that gave me comfort during that horrific period. To protect the innocent, the person that gave me a moment of relief soothing the emotional pain although temporally, she shall remain unnamed. Maybe one day she will find this writing on the internet and know that she was an angel.
Me, as an eternal opTIMist and a fan of Norman Vincent Pearl’s book The Power of Positive Thinking, I ignorantly at one time thought depression was a sham and just an excuse for someone that was not filled with joy. How can anybody be depressed? I was always happy so I could not relate to such a notion called “depression”. I credited much of that happiness to my positive attitude and as a regular customer in the self-improvement section of Barnes and Noble. We can make up our own mind whether we choose to be happy or choose sadness. Right? Sure. That’s how I saw it too. So break out the Partridge Family Cd and “Come on get happy.”
Then one day it happened. OMG! It struck like a bat out of hell. I felt …… (I can’t put it into words). Wanting to know what the hell was wrong with me, Google led me to a self-diagnostic test on the all-knowing internet where I buried the needle on a 20 question idiot test confirming I am depressed. What a success I am, I scored off the charts! I quickly learned it is depression. I just stared at the computer screen as nothing happened. I expected it to say congratulations or something. No bells. No whistles. Nothing from the computer as it delivers bad news… just mutual blank stares between that large piece of plastic on my desk and me. A stupid computer monitor showed me my essence through a black and white window that I wanted to smash with a 9 Iron. I couldn’t even conjure up the thought to say, “Now what?” Disbelief, despair, misery…all wrapped into one. At least it made sense to me why I withdrew from everything and everybody. Zoloft became a new word for me in my vocabulary. That little yellow pill became as important to me as a fresh pile of coal to a steam-driven locomotive.
The real “Darkness on the edge of town” is not only on the edge of town somewhere, it is inside of you if you suffer from depression. It cuts deep into your soul, your inner psyche, your- everything… It resides in you like an edgy dull knife that remains plunged in your gut with a one way ticket into your torso and your only wish is that the knife was sharper and did its job.
Fast forward to today. Depression is history. One day I will write about it and how dehabiliating it can be. The reason I share this with you is:
- Let you know you are NOT alone. Other people feel this darkness and it is real.
- Let you know you WILL come out of it. It gets better I promise.
- Remind you, if you CRY out to God, He will rescue you sooner rather than later.
Good tidings I bring. You are not stuck and if you are, it is only temporary. You may feel like a Mack truck ran you over, and then slams on it breaks, as the heartless trucker quickly shifts all 18 wheels in reverse running you over a second time to make sure you feel like death warmed over with your spirit squashed, spilled out and left on a cold rainy deserted highway only to be blown away by the wind you do not even know is there. Reality becomes a hazy fog. You cannot see through it. The good news is, fog always dissipates and the sun comes out so hang onto your hat. I am living proof that people come out of it. You too can come out of it.
Hang tight. This is one place where clinging to Sir Winston Churchill’s speech is more than appropriate and necessary. In his short classic 1941 speech, he said over and over…never give in, never give up, never never give up. For someone with depression, those are the most prudent words one can hang onto.
I encourage you to never give up. It goes away, it is just a phase. A painful phase, yet just a phase. If I gave up, my three beautiful children would be fatherless and you would not be reading this article I am sharing with you. I share this true-story for no other purpose than to hopefully encourage you if you are stricken with this horrible condition or if you have a loved one that experiences this constant darkness. I am not a fan of clichés, but there is “Light at the end of the tunnel.” There really is.
On my journey, I learn depression is no sham. It is no joke. It is real. It downright sucks but I learned through the grace of God it goes away. I hated the experience of depression but as Romans 8:28 says, God will take these bad things and turn them for good to those that serve Him. For me, the good is, now I can hopefully help other people through a horrible season of torment by reminding them they it will be ok.
Sometimes that is all someone needs. Understanding. Reassurance. That person that came over to my house and held my hand and then told me she had depression, wow….I will always remember that feeling of true empathy. It did not heal me but momentarily it made me feel better that someone “got it”. They knew what I was going through.
There is light ahead. Look up, have faith. Never give up. Trust the Lord that it will be OK. I know what you are going through. There is no reason to feel ashamed. I get it. I am with you. I understand you. You have my empathy. I am on your side and God can heal you. Feel free to email me if you need reassurance. I promise you it will be ok, as long as you don’t give up. I am no Churchill. I am Just a Guy on A Journey but I plead for you to Never give up! You WILL be ok. You are NOT alone. Jesus loves you and so do I. Ok?