I’m afraid to write these days.
These depression tapes that keep running through my head make me feel afraid. These tapes, these scripts, these echoing voices keep telling me of my worthlessness. They keep shouting “You can’t!” They keep vomiting these lies on top of me. And when I believe these lies, I become afraid.
I fear that I’ve used all my words. I fear that other people are saying it better than I can. I fear no one will care. I fear what I write is stupid and clumsy. I fear that no one will value what I have written. I fear I will not find validation of my words. I fear I am worthless and my words don’t matter. I fear, I fear, I fear.
Fear makes me feel small, vulnerable to everything and trapped. Fear makes my stomach knot up and churn on itself. Fear makes my heart pound violently, my palms sweat, and my blood run cold.
Fear has a visceral effect on me, and I am afraid these days.
I am afraid the voices of depression are right.
At this point, I want to turn back. I want to erase all these words and believe that the fear is true.
So how do I deal with all this fear, with this fight or flight reaction to the lies depression is telling me? How can I fight it? How can I pass through it? How can I be free of it?
Again, the voices of depression are telling me that this is a stupid post, which I should stop writing and give up. Again, all these fears roar in my heart.
Sometimes, I believe the fear. I give in, give up, and hang up my pen. I erase the words. I begin to believe I am small, that I don’t matter. I begin to believe my words don’t hold stories worth reading.
Giving in, believing the lies is an easy move. It kills me, but it’s an easy death. All I have to do is listen, to not deny the whispers and accept the roars of the lies. The problem is that this only feeds the depression and the fear. When I give in, everything gets worse. When I embrace the lies and stop fighting them, I actually do grow small, trapped, and wounded.
As easy as it is, I can’t believe the fear.
Another option is to hide away from the fear, to numb it out and ignore it. Whether it be with alcohol, TV, sleep or social media, I can numb the fear. Numbness is nice because I don’t have to fight and I can simply get lost in whatever I am choosing at the time. Growing numb is kind of like giving in: I don’t have to fight anymore. I don’t have to keep telling the lies they aren’t true. I get to ignore it all.
But when I ignore it, I ignore myself, my heart. When I numb the depression, the pain, the fear, and the lies, again I grow small and weak. In hiding, I lose some of my soul.
The other option that I have is to fight. After all, this fear brings about a fight or flight response. If I don’t give in, if I don’t run away, I must fight. Fighting is when I tell the lies, “NO!” It is when I emphatically try to remember the comments, the praise, the acceptance, and the connection with my words. Fighting is work, it is sweat and tears and not a little bit of blood. Fighting doesn’t get rid of the fear. In fact, when I fight those feelings of worthlessness, smallness, and vulnerability intensify. The fear fights back.
There is nothing wrong with fighting. It is how we confront the fear and the depression. It is how we get the shit done anyways. But it is work, and it is hard, and to be honest I don’t always have the strength to fight this war. I grow tired, weary, and the fear doesn’t relent.
When I grow tired, when I am weak, I may not have the strength to fight the fear and the depression, but luckily there is another way. It involves turning away from the fear. Not silencing it or somehow getting rid of it, simply turning my back on it and turning to Jesus.
I’m not going to get all preachy on you, that’s not my style. However, there is something to be said turning away from the fear and finding some rest in Jesus.
See, this fear and depression feeds off of my self-worth. When I look to my writing or to other people or to other people reading my writing to give me significance, it is then that the fear grows loudest. Truth is other people can’t give me worth and value. I forget this, but it remains true. When I turn to Jesus, I am taking myself out of the fight or flight battle with the fear, and I am trying to believe that I am loved. Simply loved. I am trying to believe I have worth and value because I am human and God loves me as I am.
When I repent, turn to Jesus, I am looking for rest.
Maybe from that place of rest I can find my words again. Maybe from that place of rest, I can begin to counter the depression that haunts me these days.
Maybe from the lap of Jesus I can learn to be brave again.