Depression: How to Explain It to Others

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 ESV

Looking back I can see it plainly. I was depressed and desperately clinging to my faith.

No one from the outside could see it. They knew I injured my foot. They knew my house had to have all the pipes redone, but they couldn’t see. They didn’t know about the darkness.

When I told my daughter I how depressed I was she asked, “Why didn’t you tell someone?”

And God gave me these words.

Imagine you woke up one morning and the sun didn’t come up and you couldn’t find a light switch. The sun had been slowly getting dimmer over weeks and months so the darkness wasn’t a surprise. It just was. And the lights, they slowly became like a kerosene lamps, feeble, getting more and more useless. So darkness seemed normal, as if everyone woke in the dark.

Despite the darkness you had to live. You had teeth to brush, kids to feed, bills to pay. All in the dark. Everything became more difficult and there never was enough time. Without light obstacles easily tripped you up, slowed you down, or kept you from trying. And every day some obstacle moved so you could never quite learn to navigate through your day without bumping into something. Any new unexpected event – whether welcome or not – added to your difficulty. And the darkness only deepened.


I could not remember what light looked and felt like. So the moments of subdued laughter or excitement I felt seemed normal. But my tears. I noted I may have a problem when I struggled to read out loud a page from a book I was reading to my kids. The story was not particularly sad, no one died, and yet I struggled to read sentence after sentence as tears streamed down my face. I chalked it up to being sensitive. I often cry. Things are just difficult now, but I’m ok.

But I wasn’t. And the crazy thing is I could and did tell people the truth about God and His tender care for me. I saw His hand moving in all the crazy circumstances of foot injury, my husband’s job changing, and service man after service man after service man in my house. I knew God was there working. And I worked hard to find joy even in a knee scooter.

But that didn’t mean I wasn’t depressed, because one day a few weeks ago the light came back on. The heavy darkness that clung to me for months was dispelled.

Suddenly I accomplished more in one day than I had in a month or more. Things that were a struggle took me no time at all. And the joy of the Lord was that much richer and amazing. And I don’t have to cry my eyes out when I thought about it.

Sometimes we slip into depression like a slowly dimming light and we do not even know we are walking in the dark. Sometimes we do not even know we need to tell someone.

That is what depression was like for me. What is your experience? How do you describe it to others who have not experienced it?

Please note I am NOT saying that people who are blind are always depressed. I am just trying to offer a physical example of what depression can feel like for a seeing person.