Befriending My Depression

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As I meet with a new doctor she reviews my list of prescriptions.

“Do you still need this one?” she asks while pointing at my anti-depressant medication.

I take a deep breath and proceed to tell her my history with depression: “I had my first depression when I was 13 years old, the next one at age 19, another one in my mid-20s, then again when I was 40,” I said. “That last one was deeper and longer than any of the others and I started the medication.”
“Okay,” she said while nodding. “Sounds like you’re a lifer for meds.”

“Yep, probably.”


I’ve had this conversation with a variety of physicians, including a dermatologist who said, “You look fine to me!” To which I replied, “That’s because of the medication—it helps me not to be depressed.”

Another doctor suggested I see a therapist and I said, “I’ve done years of talk therapy and have met with four different therapists during my life. I know my depression well enough that if I need a therapist, I see one.


My depression is part of who I am and I am well-acquainted with it. When I notice the inner flatness I take a survey: how have I been sleeping? Do I need to increase my vitamin D and/or B12? Do I need to get out of the house and move more? And, as an Enneagram 4, am I veering toward the unhealthy attributes? If so, do I need to do a life correction and move toward the Enneagram 1? Or, is this the return of “darkness, my old friend?”


For decades I’ve been ashamed of my mental illness.My friends remember my depression at 19 and describe me as sitting in the corner at Bible Study with a pullover hoodie and greasy hair. I’m ashamed by that description. A few months after I began anti-depressants I wanted to stop because I was “feeling better and don’t need them anymore.” My husband wisely said, “You feel better because of the medication. You have a disease—the mental illness of depression.”

I don’t like the phrase “mental illness” because of the portrayal of people mental illness in popular culture—scary, erratic, irrational. I want to appear normal, steady, and have-it-all-together, not someone who lives with a mental illness.


When I first learned of the “dark night of the soul,” I wondered if that’s what I experienced. I asked one of my seminary professors and he quickly responded, “No, that’s depression, not the dark night.”

“How can you tell the difference?” I asked.

In the dark night you still function in life and you have full expression of your emotions,” he said. “With the dark night God is silent. God’s silence is leading you into a deeper or newer form of prayer.”


A wise friend suggested that I “befriend my depression” which seemed ridiculous to me. Nevertheless, I’ve pondered this idea and I have come to understand that to befriend my depression is to accept it as an essential part of me as much as my delight at a good joke. To befriend my depression means not disowning and heaping shame on this part of me in an attempt to appear normal. I will never be cured of my depression but medication helps me manage it. I know I will need to introduce this friend to future doctors as “my friend.”

I consider my daily pill as a gift from God. And because that pill is a gift from God it is a daily reminder of my dependency on God. I cannot make myself whole, only God can and there is the grace which allows me to befriend my depression.

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15 thoughts on “Befriending My Depression

  1. Thank you for your vulnerable reflection, June.  I, too, have struggled with what I call “low-grade” depression for much of my life.  One year in college, I skipped classes and spent manydays in bed.  I am now off anti-depressants for the first time in many years.  Not sure if Iwill remain off them though.  We struggle these paths together, sister, many of us.  I appreciateyour blogs and I miss our infrequent times of talk with Penny.Love,Carol

  2. Thoughtful post, June — thank you. I appreciate your defining the difference between depression and the “dark night of the soul.” I like to think of depression as a chemical imbalance vs. “mental illness” — because it helps us remember that it’s as physical as other imbalances in our bodies (especially if medication helps.) I like the idea of befriending sorrow and sadness — aspects of depression — and learning to listen to what they have to tell us.

  3. Hey, June, I think that I will repost this on my Facebook page. I am also a lifer for anti-depressants and I credit them with my ability to function most of the time. Thanks for being open about this.

  4. This is very powerful! Thank you for your willingness to sharing it. Blessings to you as you walk with others and are a blessing to them.

  5. Thanks, June. You said it so well, and I would like to share it too. I resonate with befriending the depression and the way you explain what that means.

  6. I just saw 20/20, and I’m so impressed w this woman who Trusted in the Lord! I’ve had depression bouts in 2011, 2015, and 2017! The first time I was depressed for only a couple months with no need for anti-depressant in the winter. In 2015, it lasted from February until August with anti depressant until January 2016! Today, January 19, 2019, I am still on anti-depressant, benztropine and sleeping pill since November 2017! I hate being depressed, on medications, winter and most of all mental institutions (I’ve been to 4 of them!), but I feel that I still need to find just the right mental concoction! Praying and trusting God for me!

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