I was out the other day, when my toddly boy got ‘chatting’ with a little girl of ten months. It was rather cute.
Her mum and I got chatting too. Within ten minutes we were sharing some pretty deep stuff. She has post-natal depression (PND). She had planned to be having another baby quite close in age to her daughter, but those plans are on hold for now; a decision that is causing her obvious pain and anxiety.
As I was packing up our things to go, she said, “Well, you’ve had three kids, so there is some hope for me”. “There is always hope”, I said.
The day before this happened, I was talking to another woman I don’t know very well. Her husband has depression, though it is undiagnosed, virtually unacknowledged, and definitely untreated. It is a very hard situation for the whole family.
I very often find myself having such conversations with people. I know why, too: it’s part of the plan. Part of the ‘good bit’ of having depression.
Until I had depression, nothing truly difficult had ever happened to me. You could argue that I needed to experience this sort of suffering. God has never left me alone in all this. He has taught me more in the last seven years than in all the years before them. And now He often brings people across my path who need encouragement. I hope I sometimes manage to give it, just as others have helped me.
The point is: I am a mess. I don’t look like it. I often don’t seem depressed. But under the surface – on occasion bursting through – I am a little bit broken. And that can be a very good thing. If it means I recognise my own flaws, it’s a good thing. If it means others can see that they are not alone in their struggles, it’s a good thing. If it means I can be a help to someone, because I’m not ‘Mrs Got-it-all-together’ and can therefore understand where they are coming from, it’s a good thing.
I’m spilt milk. Don’t cry.