“You’re not alone…I understand.”
Those are perhaps the two most comforting sentiments we long to hear in the midst of a trial. It was what I needed to hear, but didn’t, when I was in the midst of the valley of depression.
The opposite was what the enemy of my soul whispered in my ear so loudly it was deafening: “You’re all alone. No one else understands. If you tell anyone, they’ll know what’s wrong with you and run the other way.”
That’s what perpetuates the stigma: the belief that suffering with the pain of depression or anxiety means there is something inherently flawed about you, any more than you would be flawed if you had allergies or heart disease. No one is shunned for those health conditions. Yet, for some reason, we think a mental health concern makes an individual inherently flawed.
The enemy made sure to use my own knowledge and training against me: “you’re the doctor. If you couldn’t save yourself from such an affliction, why would anyone trust you to treat them? In fact, if anyone finds out, you’ll lose business and be the laughing stock of your profession.” He wanted me to believe that my worth was dictated by my condition and that I was flawed because I had walked in the valley.
Yet the enemy is a liar—the father of lies in fact. God’s truth says that what the enemy intended to harm us, God will use for good. It also says that we will be able to comfort others with the comfort that we have been given (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Most recently, I wrote a book that releases August 2016, “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression.” In that book, I not only share from my experience, both as a doctor who treats depression, but also as an individual who suffered.
In preparation for the book release, I took a small group of women through the book with me in a book study format. At one point as we were going through one of the chapters, one of the women messaged me and said, “THIS…Is. Me! You’re telling my story for the past 25 years…Now I know why God connected us.” But the not-so-strange part is that she wasn’t the only one to share such sentiments with me. Many women have told me similar statements, yet each one has felt alone, and each, in their own way, has worn a mask afraid to share their suffering; afraid to let anyone see their pain; afraid no one else would understand.
It was my story too. And it’s the story of countless others. And the enemy convinces so many that it is true…that they are alone and that no one else will understand. But I’m here to tell you that it is a lie. You are not alone. Someone does understand.
Even if you do not have someone in your close circle that you can open up to and share your heart with, you are still not alone. I didn’t have anyone when I was in the darkest part of the valley of despair, but still I was not alone. God promises in His word that He never leaves us alone.
“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT).
He hears our cries and He promises to heal the broken places in our hearts.
“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
He also promises to comfort us in our suffering, after which, we will be able to be there to extend comfort and compassion to others.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT).
When I was in the valley of depression, the enemy’s lies were so loud and so convincing, but ultimately, it was standing on and trusting in God’s truth that made all the difference. And His word reminds us that “they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony” (Revelation 12:11 NLT). It is for this reason that I am willing to share my story, to give others hope and to help silence the enemy’s whispers in their ears, pointing them to God’s truth and His faithfulness.
Have you experienced God’s faithfulness in the lonely times? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. You just might encourage someone else in the process!
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)