Ever since I became a Christian, I have always believed that miracles are these amazing supernatural events that God does to make Himself known. As the years pass, and I go through life, I realise how ridiculous I sounded when I was younger. This is not to say that God doesn’t do the miraculous, but I guess at times, what we expect to miraculous is not what God defines it.
I have seen God miraculous cure cancer, but only for it to come back later to claim a life. At the time, I was unsure why God allowed it to happen. I had completely forgotten that God had done a miracle. He had cured the cancer. Whatever happened after that was a different situation, I cannot put the two situations into one package.
Throughout the years, I have learnt to expect anything to be a miracle, especially ordinary things that don’t seem important enough. I have also learnt that pain and suffering can be miracles in disguise, we need to learn how to reflect on events and situations.
Take my depression and same-sex attraction for example. On the surface, my depression is an illness and my same-sex attraction is a burden. But as I look back now, if it hasn’t been for my depression, I would have never admit that I have issues with same-sex attraction that I need to work through. If it wasn’t for my heightened senses of my same-sex attraction, my depression wouldn’t have been spiraling downwards that I had to admit that I need professional help. In both instances, I have gained something valuable and worth the while. And that is the gift of friendship, the kind where people stick by me through the suffering and ugliness.
Please don’t take this as advice to go and get an illness or something. But I guess what I am trying to say is that I believe all things happen for a reason and they work together for the good of us, no matter how bad they may be on the surface. I see miracles happen daily, like when I win a daily battle with depression and same-sex attraction. It doesn’t seem that important to others, but to me, they mean that I am drawing closer to God each day.
Miracles may not happen in an instant. I haven’t seen my miraculous healing of my depression or same-sex attraction. I may never will in this lifetime. But here is the miracle, one day, when Christ comr back, I will be fully whole and fully healed, without sin and without suffering. That miracle is sure to happen and that hope is what essentially keeps me running the race.
I write, not for anyone else’s benefits necessarily. While it is great to be able to share my experience, my triumphs and my failures, writing is my method of processing my thoughts. It allows me to record my desires, my insecurities, my emotions down on paper so I can make room for more thoughts and emotions to take that place. I hate asking for help. Sometimes, I feel like it is all in my head and the only reason I force myself to become depressed is so people notice me and love me and I would feel I belong. Sometimes, I have doubts about what is real and what is my imagination. Do I really imagine that life is terrible and that my suicidal thoughts are just being overly dramatised because I feel like my life is really boring so I need to spice it up more? Or perhaps I love to escape into my imaginary world where I can be who I want to be because I am not happy with myself or who I am.
I think Satan loves people like me because I put self-doubt into my mind and then Satan plays around with it and turn it into something more dangerous. I feel like every step I am closer to God, Satan tempts me back into Babylon. I still have a hard time convincing myself the mood swings between my days. People had always told me that I am very moody and changes my mood quickly. I was always under the impression that depression meant that you are always depressed or emotionless, so any feeling of peace and happiness is wrong. So then I end up in one of two places, either I think I am not actually experiencing depression or I think that I shouldn’t be happy because of my depression.
I have been thinking about my self-hate and self-loathing. Other than me thinking that I am not qualified to do anything at the moment, what my real thinking is how much I hate myself for thinking about temptations and sins, sometimes even acting on them. I hate the fact that I am hopeless at not being able to control myself because I put my standards to be a Christian very high, to a point where I know I can’t reach it and so I just set myself up for disappointment. Sometimes, I look at other people’s lives and I am envious and I am jealous and I cry out because I feel like I have been stuck at the same place while other people have achieved so much in life. My self-loathing tells me that I am not good enough to achieve what I want and I don’t have the skills or the strength to dream big. And I hate myself for thinking about that even. It is like a minefield in my head as I try to navigate a safe course of thoughts every single day.
Someone told me I have an eye for detail. I didn’t believe them. I have probably made so many spelling and grammar mistakes already that I haven’t noticed. I feel like in my depression, acknowledging it and having to deal with it, I am more sensitive to other people’s feelings and emotions. I am more hypersensitive to my own feelings and thoughts. I can feel my mood going down and while I can’t really put my finger on it, there is a sense when I am spiraling downwards. I feel more empathy towards other people’s problems and emotions, and while I don’t like to talk about them in front of other people, I sense my heart and breath tighten, and there is a feeling of hurt or heartache that I feel inside. I have trouble dealing with issues afterwards and often find myself dwelling on them for days afterward.
I know after all that, some people tell me to get over it, or to feel better, or to stop obsessing. I am more hurt when people claim to know how to fix my problems for me and when they tell me that my problems are lighter than those of other people. I am more hurt when they expect me to feel a certain way each day, and just because I was fine one day that I should feel the same the next day. I am more hurt when people expect me to be healed instantly and claim that I don’t have enough faith in God.
I pray that people will be more aware of people like us and that they will take more notice of us. I know that we all have our issues to deal with but to some of us, our problems are invisible to outsiders and need more awareness so we are not falling through the cracks and end up in a place where it is too late.
I breathe heavily, sitting in the thick undergrowth, using a tree as a backrest as I lean my head onto its trunk. In the thick undergrowth, it is hard to tell anything in the distance, everything is hidden behind the layers of leaves and plants. But I could hear the gunfire, the exploding bullets as they shoot out of the gun barrels. It isn’t just one noise, but a ring of gunshots methodically sweeping through the jungle. It is like surround sound at the cinema, coming at you at all sides. I close my eyes, wanting to drown out the noises. My grip on my automatic rifle tightens as I fear the noises encloses on me. I have no one on the battlefield on my side, my salvation is only my rifle. I hold onto it as my life depended on it.
After what seemed like hours passed, I slowly open my eyes. The noises seem to have stopped; no more shouting of commands or the firing of machine guns. I listen intensely, waiting for the fighting to resume, but nothing happened. I slowly look around, still I can’t see anything in the distance. No one. There is absolutely no one here. I open my mouth to call out into the depth of the jungle, but nothing comes out. I have not had anything to eat or drink for days, my rations had ran out ages ago. The throat is dry and my eyes seem to have a mind of its own. I have no energy to muster any sort of sound, so I just sat there staring out into the distance. I am still happy, the gunfire had stopped and I was safe again.
But fate loves to tease me. I freeze in fear as I see a gaint spider, at least 5 metres tall and with eight red eyes all beaming at me. Its eight legs efficiently rotate to crawl towards me; I am sure it licked its tongue in anticipation for dinner. Me. I try to back away but I was leaning against a tree so that didn’t work. It just kept coming and crawling until finally, I struggle to get up and expose myself into open, fleeing from the giant spider. But after a few hundred metres, I turn expecting the spider to have chased me. There is nothing there. No, I think, I am sure there was a giant spider. I am not going crazy. I am not imagining things. By this time, I am sweating, feeling fatigued and dizzy. I have trouble standing on my two feet.
Suddenly, the ground next to me explodes as a wave of bullets hits the ground. I drop to my knees in a panic, losing my grip on my rifle in the process. An explosion of fire rocks me to the ground, face down. The rifle is thrown from my hands and lands on the jungle floor metres away. I look up at it, but explosions from enemy tanks keep me from moving anywhere. That’s it. My only lifeline is now gone and I am out of any ammunition. I cradle my head in my hands, holding my helmet desperately. I close my eyes and give a final cry as I listen continuously to the gunfire and the explosions. I think to myself, this is it. I can’t go on anymore. This is my breaking point. I need to let go and surrender.
As tears stream down my cheeks, I slowly pull myself up in a kneeling position. In slow motion, I raise my hands up in surrender, waiting for the bullets to hit my body and take me down. I shout in one last desperation for help, “I give up! I can’t do this on my own!” It is then when I hear the running footsteps and the gunshots. I turn around and see a miraculous sight. My platoon mates emerges out of nowhere. Some are providing suppressive fire while others come running to my side. I am dragged by my friends to behind some trees, I feel like I could cry for the rest of the war. They smile at me, “We lost you on the way and couldn’t find you anywhere. Thankfully your voice gave us your position.”
The battle still rages on. I am still struggling to fight the enemy and my hallucinations, thanks to contracting jungle fever. But I am grateful that I have my band of soldiers st my side, fighting with me this war. I am given new weapons and a fresh supply of ammunition. The war is still ongoing. Some battles are won, some are lost. I am aware that the war is long, when one enemy is defeated, another one seem to emerge. I continue to fight to the best of my abilities, hoping for the day when I can come out victorious.
In recent days, I often ask God the following three questions in my battle with depression:
1. Why do I feel like God has abandoned me to suffer alone?
2. Why has God given me these same-sex attraction feelings that makes me feel guilt and shameful for these emotions?
3. Why do I feel like a failure unable to do God’s works?
Mind you, at my lowest, I can’t seem to see pass the darkness. I am not sure how others deal with the depression, but I hope that through this post, I can share some of the experiences I had with dealing with it and how some great people impacted my life and encouraged me in my journey.
Each time I have hit rock bottom, I cry out to God about the pain and the hurt I go through, how silent we can be and how that is dangerous for us. We don’t realise it but each time we hit rock bottom, we cry out for help. We do it in different ways, and some of the methods are harmful. But we are a contradicting species and when we can’t cope with people, we sometimes need people around us to hold us together. God’s grace is amazing because every time I have doubts, He answers my cries.
1. I love the way Philip Yancey answers this question. God hasn’t abandoned us. He is there when we suffer because we the church are the vessels for which His love flows through. God places people around me at the times when I most need it, even when I may given up looking. He shows tha He knows and cares and loves us.
2. I have realised that because of sin, we are not the way we are originally created. I can’t get rid of my emotions or my feelings but we are not bound by them. I must constantly remind myself that Christ died for our sins so we can be forgiven and made new in Christ. My shame and guilt comes from the voice inside my head that tells me that I am worthless and useless. That is not God’s voice and should not be the voice that controls our lives. I may have same-sex attraction feelings that I must live with, but how I respond and act to it is what defines me, not my guilt and shame.
3. In my weakness, God’s power shows through. We are qualified to be saved but yet Christ died for our sins so we can be qualified to be saved. I see this in the church members, each has taken up the task to say yes I am available. As much as some of them seem to think that they are not qualified, God gave them the grace to do His work.
So how can we care for others in depression? Through my own experience, I believe that we (the sufferers) need people to recognise the signs for cries of help. We sometimes are incapable to actually ask people for help so we do things out of the ordinary to get other people’s attention. It is important for me to recognise that not all people have the gift and I shouldn’t blame them if they can’t see my suffering. But we still need to inform people of our presence and the fact that we need help.
I think that asking questions is not the way to engage us at the start. We tend to avoid the hard questions, especially those such as “What happened?”, “How are you feeling?” and “Do you want to talk about it?”. Make statements, but be carefully because some are not helpful. Things like “cheer up” and “you’ll feel better later” are not very helpful and often will make us feel worse about ourselves. Those who have journeyed alongside me knows that the best they can do is to just be there, to hug me and to let me cry. This way, I make my own way to tell them how I feel.
I hope this is helpful for people to understand us as people who are hurt and alone, and depressed. I am still battling depression and I know that I will have many more breaking points and emotional breakdowns before I can come out of it. But I am blessed to know that God loves and cares for me and that there are friends and a community out there who worries about me deeply. I am forever grateful for that and there are just not enough words to say how thankful I am and how I love them dearly.
Lastly, I pray that we will be more aware of the people around us because depression can affect any of us. I pray that we will continue to read God’s words and to continue to listen to Gods voice. I pray that God will sustain us in our pain and that we will hold onto the sure hope that He will not forsake us in our battles.
So goes the continuing story of my journey. It is interesting everyday to seemingly have a different experience with your desires, temptations and emotions. Sometimes, I feel like it is all in my head and I am going crazy.
If I was a psychologist, I would diagnose my depression as a consequence of years od guilt, shame, self-pity, self-loathing, low self-esteem and self-hate. Maybe there are really deep issues there that I need to dig out and acknowledge. A good Christian will tell me that God loves me and values me and that all other things that have been implanted in my mind is not the truth. I agree. And I know this. But knowing it is one thing, but to completely break away from them, people expect me to recover with the snap of a finger.
But I think depression itself is deeper than that. You try to pull yourself out but can’t. It is like desperately trying to swim out of an ocean but can’t as it is drowning you. It has taken me years to admit that I have a problem. Most people believe that it is just a phase that you go through and you get over it eventually. But it can come back. Sometimes, I think it probably never left.
So I think I have hit rock bottom, there is no way that I could go lower than rock bottom. But I think I am wrong. There is a place lower than rock bottom. It is a place of nothingness. It is when you sit somewhere and can stare at something for hours, just no emotions, no anything. After the emotional breakdown, all that is left is the emptiness and the isolation. The idea that no one else is going through the exact same thoughts as you.
This is where I give the climax of the story. I finally mustered the energy and the courage to cry out for help. After weeks of indecision and tug-a-war inside me, I have finally decided to talk to a GP about the depression. After what happened on Sunday night, I felt a new perspective that if I don’t take that first step, I don’t know how I will deal with the future rock bottom moments. I know that there is also the other issues that I need to deal with, but perhaps, if I get help on my mental health, the other issues will be a bit easier to face.
I still face the daily battle with depression and same-sex attraction temptations. Recently, I felt that I have lost many battles on both fronts and needs to continuously ask God for grace and forgiveness, but also God’s strength to keep fighting. I know that it may be a lifelong journey, one that will be painful, difficult and sometimes lonely. But along the journey, I believe that God remains with us, giving us hope for a better future when Christ returns again.
I look up from the valley of helplessness
Birds of despair circle above my head
Mountains of fear close in around me
I reach out, trying to climb up towards the sky
I am running from the weight of the world
To the edge of cliff where life and death meets
When hopelessness chases after me
I panic, closes my eyes and leap down
Ocean of depression pulls me under
Waves of pain washes over me
I am but a drop of water in the vastness
Desperately grabbing hold of my lifeline
On my knees, when I can’t bear the pain
I lift my hands up in surrender
Take my life, O God, and break away my pride
On my knees, Lord, I pray
Shape my life with the Potter’s hands
Let my life become for your glory
On my knees, at the throne of grace
Exchange my pain for your joy
Let my life become a song of praise
For when I am on my knees
All I am is God’s alone
Last night, I wrote a rather depressing blog post and I didn’t want to leave it there. Hence, I thought I needed to do a follow-up, which I should warn may not be that pretty but hopefully useful for some people.
I should tell you exactly what happened last night and what I was thinking. The whole week hasn’t been that good for me, both emotionally and mentally. I know I went out and met friends and had dinner. I could still muster enough energy to take an interest in the lives of others… until last night. I went to church but it wasn’t really one of those happy days where I wanted to be all cheerful and talkative. By the time I got to church, I was looking to sit in the back corner so I didn’t have to talk to anyone. It worked…for a while. A friend sat next to me and for the life of me I just had to get up and get out of church. I honestly didn’t know why I did that but I walked out of the church and decided to go for a walk around the block.
The real trouble was when I came back after church. Look, I know this is where many people give me weird looks like I am selfish, crazy or just stupid. I came out of the church doors again after the service but I didn’t walk very far. I didn’t want to go home. I don’t know why but I just sat outside the church and just sat there for half an hour. I know what some people may think, that I am there to be seen, to be heard, and that I want the attention. Perhaps a subconscious part of me is thinking that exact thought. However, when I was sitting out there, it was a different story going through my head.
I may be wanting to cry out to people for help, but I certainty wasn’t in my right mind to go back into church and ask for help. Seriously, I think the only thing that I was thinkinf about was just sitting there and spacing out. Mind you, that didn’t exactly work because a few minutes later, the guilt and the shame of my sin and my depression can like a wave rushing into my mind. For the first time in weeks, I actually had suicidal thoughts. Failing that, I wanted to get a razor blade and harm myself just so I can distract myself from the feelings of despair and self-hate. As time passed, I admit that I was more depressed that no one had noticed or cared. I know it is a really bad thing to say and I am in no way blaming anyone else. I don’t think it was fair for me to point fingers at others when they are going about their lives. I am just trying to recount what depression can do to my thoughts even more than it was already doing. I felt more alone and more helpless.
So I finally felt like I hit rock bottom. I eventually broke down and I felt like all the tears that I had suppressed just came rushing back up and I couldn’t hold onto any dignity I had left. But then something happened. God continued to work in my life. Even when I am too blind, too engrossed in my own pitiful problems, God knew. One person had noticed and took note of me. I had never felt God closer than having a glimpse of heaven happen on earth. People often ask where is God when it hurts. I would say that God is with us because His people become the messengers and the vessels of which God’s love, God’s mercy and God’s grace flowed through.
So where do I sit at this point? I would be lying to you if I said that all of my struggles or depression has been solved. I know it is going to be a long journey ahead. And I know that that moment I had on the church doorsteps, those kitchen moments will still come at me in the future. I don’t have all the answers and I know that when people ask me about my depression and my sins, I can only say that I am on the journey of recovery. I am still learning to trust God as my rock and foundation. I am still learning to let God take the reins of my life. I am still learning to sacrifice my freedoms for the sake of others. I don’t know where I sit at the moment, but I do know that God had never forsake me.