Advent devotion: Barely smoldering
Sometimes, we all need a little light.
In my case, the darkness can be from major, chronic depression. Around the holidays and the cold, long winter are prime depression seasons for me and many of the others who live with the disease.
Depression does many horribly cruel things to an individual. It numbs emotions, but particularly joy and happiness. Things you used to love to do no longer bring that same happy, carefree enjoyment. Every action feels like it takes more energy than you have. Conversations are exhausting. Focus is nonexistent. It turns your thoughts against you and can make you believe that your friends or family couldn’t possibly love you.
Or on the darkest days, that your family and friends would have a much better life without your existence.
During those darkest days or weeks where depression is the heaviest, hope is gone. The depressed individual’s light is often either barely smoldering or burned out. There is no light in the darkness. There is only the constant, cold dark to surround you.
Family and friends can help. Those of us who struggle with depression personally know it’s also no walk in the park for those around us. But you can help! Not by telling the depressed individual to cheer up, or by telling them to get over it, or that their life isn’t so bad.
You can help share your light by listening to the depressed person. Or if he or she isn’t up for talking, sit with them. Or hug them. Or say you’ve got them and “we’ll” get through this. Use your light to relight their candle. Help them feel your love, your hope, and your fierce support. It is those seemingly small actions of love and support that can help your loved one see beyond the darkness and into the light.
Those of us who are depressed know we can be a handful and a challenge when in its grip. Thank you for sticking with us, and thank you for being the spark to relight our hope, our gratitude, and our faith.
Kristina Voyna works at Deere & Company. She and her wife, Teri, live in Bettendorf with their son, Leo.