Last week, I asked my Instagram followers what devotionals they would want to read. “Depression” was the first response and one I knew I needed to write about. Depression is not simple. There is no magical thing that makes it disappear. Luckily, we serve a God who does the impossible and in learning to cope and pray, we overcome. Mental illness and chemical imbalances are real and a problem our world increasingly faces. So sit tight, take a deep breath, and understand that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

From the time I was 13 up until the time I was 17, I struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts, body dysmorphia, anxiety, and so much more. I was a hodgepodge of a mess and didn’t really want any help. Nothing set me off the edge to make me behave this way. It was like a light switch went off for four years and nothing I could do would turn it back on. I spent so many days and nights lying on the floor, clawing at my skin and sobbing. I can’t explain what was going on in my head. I had a wonderful childhood, a warm home, great friends, and a great God. Something just snapped and I didn’t really want to mend it.

A couple months before my 17th birthday, I decided to start testing myself to see how long I could go without eating. I got really good at it. So good, that people started to notice. My skin started to turn slightly green, my hair became brittle, and my nails broke constantly.  I dropped 25 pounds in three months and there was no hiding it. My best friend decided to speak up after watching me begin to wither away and my family and friends began to help me heal bit by bit. My light switch came back on.

But here’s the thing: the darkness didn’t just go away. It was (and still is, honestly) a fight day by day to look at the sky and see the sun and not darkness. I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, I was never diagnosed with depression or anxiety, but they were real and they cut me deep. It’s a miracle that I am here sharing my story with you today. If 17-year-old me had been around the past two years, life would have torn me down and broken me beyond recognition, but the new me refused to let that happen. There’s no formula for getting better. There is no step-by-step guide to get rid of depression. It honestly just takes a whole lot of Jesus and a whole lot of grace for yourself.

One of the names I have recently discovered for God in the Bible is Jehovah Shalom. Shalom is Hebrew for “peace” and Jehovah is often a name used for God in the Bible. Jehovah Shalom means “The Lord is Peace” or “The Lord send Peace” or “The God of Peace.”

Peace is something the world constantly strives toward yet always forgets it wants. Humans crave peace. Our hearts cannot take so much anxiety, so much tragedy, or disruption. We want the calm in the storm, the peace in the waves. When you deal with depression, you just want your mind to shut off completely, to feel nothing, to have peace.

Yet, God has already given you this peace. It’s not a prize to be won or the ultimate “life goal.” We already have it. We just have to choose to access it. This is super difficult in the chaotic, anxiety-driven world we live in. It’s often easier to stay hidden and let the darkness settle. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you.” God paves your path to restoration each and every day.

For me, finding light and hope in the darkness began with the understanding that God doesn’t want us to suffer. We are created to be joyful beings, full of love, hope, and worship. The only way to be like this is through the Creator Himself. Your friends cannot heal you, your parents cannot heal you, a boyfriend/girlfriend cannot heal you. No matter how badly you want to turn to people, the only one who can heal you is Jesus.

The only advice I can give to you is to read your Bible, worship, pray, fast, and repeat. God works in His own timing. It took me four years to dig my way out and for some, it takes a lifetime. There is a reason you are here. There is a reason you are still going, still moving, still breathing. You are still inspiring someone. You are still changing lives. You are not finished yet. You are loved. You are beautiful. You are heard. You are powerful. You are not alone. You are never alone.

God sees the hell you are walking through even better than you can. When no one else understands, He does. When no one is watching, He is. When no one else seems to care, He does. When no one is listening, He is. When it seems no one loves you, He does. When you are broken, He is fixing you. When you feel darkness, He is your light.

There are no words I can say to fix the brokenness in your heart, but God can. Believe me when I say it will get better. You just have to take it one step, one day, at a time. Be in God’s presence and know that peace is coming. You are still breathing because you are still needed.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-8255. Even if you just need someone to talk to, they can help. Don’t walk through this alone.
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