Learning to step back and see the real enemy
When I think of my struggles with depression, I think of Claritin commercials. Because of course, right? Don’t you equate emotional turmoil with allergy meds? Seriously, though, have you seen those commercials? People are talking, everything looks fine, maybe the screen seems a little less defined than usual, but nothing you can quite put your finger on… And then suddenly they’re “Claritin clear”, and a digital “film” peels off the screen, and you think, “Oh yeah! That’s so much better!”
That is how depression feels for me. When I’m in it, I can’t always tell that I’m not seeing things clearly. It’s hard to believe that my own emotions are lying to me, painting a fuzzier, bleaker picture than reality. My eyes adjust, and I think, “No, this is the way things really are… They just suck.”
Until finally the film is pulled back, the light comes in, and I think, “Oh yeah! Now I see! That’s so much better!”
Did you know that depression messes with your vision? It’s true. I mean, don’t ask your doctor about it or anything, but I’m telling you from experience, it definitely does. When you are depressed, your focus is off. Everything that you see, feel, hear, experience is RIGHT UP IN YOUR FACE. You can’t see past the moment or the day because you can’t seem to take a step back. You can’t take a deep breath because everything is so close. At the same time, the people in your life seem so very far away, even if they are right in the same room. And solutions to your problems? Well, those aren’t even in your sight. So everything is either way too close or light years away. You can’t gain perspective.
And when you can’t gain perspective, everything is a little out of focus, and your eyes start lying to you. That weird look your hubby just gave you? It’s obviously because he’s angry with you for a whole list of offenses that have been piling up (and not at all because he was thinking about something else). The short text from a friend? She definitely is tired of dealing with you (and obviously not trying to connect with you while simultaneously juggling a screaming toddler and fussy baby). The application that you submitted and haven’t heard anything about? There’s no doubt that you’re so worthless they’re not even dignifying you with a response (and not just overloaded with work and red tape and taking a while to respond).
You’re depressed and isolated and can’t see clearly, and suddenly your enemies are everywhere. And sometimes what you need more than anything is a little perspective. You need someone to peel back the film and say, “Doesn’t this look better?” Like a child who is terrified of the monsters in her room, you need someone to flip on the light and say, “See? There’s no monster. This is still your same room, your same furniture, your same toys. You are safe here.”
So can I gently offer you this piece of wisdom that was given to me? Your spouse is not your enemy. Neither is your friend, your mom, your children, your boss (I mean, I’m pretty sure about that one…), or the jerk who bumped into you on the street and made you drop your chocolate (OK, maybe that guy is your enemy). Even your circumstances, as hard as they might be, aren’t really your enemy.
You have an enemy. But he doesn’t want you to see him, so he directs your focus back onto the little things that surround you. His goal is to paralyze you and make you ineffective, and if you’re already depressed, he doesn’t have to push very hard.
I’m not saying that Satan causes your depression or mine. But I am saying that he is smart and crafty, and he knows how to take advantage of a situation. When your focus is already off, he only has to whisper in your ear to confirm the lies that depression is already telling you: “You’re all alone in this.” “No one understands you.” “No one is there for you.” “Everyone is tired of hearing you whine.” And suddenly, your own army becomes your enemy… and Satan is free to wreak havoc undetected.
So is depression messing with your vision today? Are your problems so big that you can’t see past them? Are your friends blurry, far away? Change your focus. Don’t be tricked into believing that your enemy is your spouse or your friend or even your circumstances. Remember who your enemy is, and let yourself regain some perspective. Peel back the film and see things as they really are. Sometimes we wake up and that filmy filter is gone, it’s been lifted for us, and we can see clearly. But other days we have to make the choice to look through the filter of HOPE. It is work and it is something we have to choose over and over, but it is worth it.
Today, my friends, peel back the film. Be more than “Claritin clear”—be HOPE FILLED. Take a deep breath, change your focus, gain some perspective.