Last Christmas I was watching the Muppet Christmas Carol with my family when I had a bit of inspiration. It occurred to me that Dickens’ Christmas classic was the perfect medium wherein I could tell part of my own story. I sat down and began typing that night. I finished about two chapters of A 21st Century Christmas Carol and didn’t look at it again for a number of months.
At some point this last summer I went through a very difficult period of depression, unlike anything I had ever experienced. One day, I just came home from church and, having heard a lot of talk about brotherhood and service within the community, I started having these thoughts about how I don’t have any friends. The truth is, there are plenty of people in my neighborhood and church family that are kind to me, and I do have some friends, but these thoughts continued to attack my mind. Every day I felt increasingly depressed. I cried each day, though I hid from my wife and family to keep my pain secret. Finally, after four or five days of this, I broke down and told my wife what I was going through.
I told my wife that I didn’t know why I was feeling so depressed. It felt as though Satan knew I was down and was taking every opportunity to kick me harder. I broke down in tears while I shared my struggle with my wife. She provided the only support she could; just letting me know she was there for me. The fact is, I felt quite a bit better after I told her what I had been going through. The next day, however, I felt the pain and anguish again; only, I didn’t have any negative thoughts with the depression. It was merely this overpowering feeling of sadness that sat on my chest. I cried and cried, wondering what was wrong with me. The thought came to my mind what I had heard spoken only a year or so earlier, that the time will come when we simply won’t be able to survive spiritually without the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit.
I felt like I was dying. I felt like I was spiritually dying. I feared for my life, and I didn’t know what to do. Only a month or two before this experience, I was sitting in church and the thought came to my mind that I really should record some things in my life. I was never a regular journal writer, but I do believe that writing about our lives is important, at the very least for our posterity. So, while I was wracked with torment and feeling utterly hopeless, the thought came back to my mind to sit down and write.
I opened my computer and stared at the screen. What should I write? Should I open a blank Word document and start writing a journal entry? I didn’t know what to do. Then I saw the file for my Christmas Carol story. I opened it up and began writing. In just a couple days, I finished the book. It’s a short novella, so it didn’t necessarily need to take long to write. Most importantly, while I wrote I felt the comforting influence of the Holy Spirit enter my heart. I felt God’s love again each day as I wrote. After just a few days, I realized that I hadn’t felt that pain and depression that had earlier threatened my life.
While some may assume that the act of writing can be therapeutic, for me it was more than just writing. It was acting in a way that invited the Spirit of the Lord back into my heart and soul. This experience taught me the invaluable worth of maintaining a constant companionship and relationship with the Holy Spirit.
I’m not suggesting that anyone with clinical depression can overcome it alone by feeling God’s love. There are probably a host of things we can do, including medication and therapy, but regardless of the path anyone takes to overcoming their depression, I truly believe that developing a relationship with God will make that path more manageable.