What the locust swarm has left, the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left,
the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left, other locusts have eaten.
DREAMS OF A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN • THE SEEDS OF DEPRESSION
This morning, the world gleams, scrubbed clean by an overnight washing. Amid the whispering grays and muddy browns, I catch a glimmer outside my door, and I am captured by the shine. The air smells like earth and my dog Bonnie thinks the flooded-out earthworms that line our street are a delicious snack.
This week, I did some much-needed tidying up of the garden, pulled up stubborn weeds, and gathered the maple leaves that have collected in the corners. I tilled with my fingers and loosened the soil around the flowers, making an easier way for roots to travel. I love to dream about a day when my garden will look in real life the way it does in my head — all wild color, an invitation for the birds, the bees, the butterflies.
SEEDS OF DEPRESSION PLANTED
Though it’s long past planting season, I have planted other not-so-lovely seeds these past couple of days. Wounding words from someone I love sit heavily in my heart and they are taking root. Even as I watch this happen, I cannot seem to pull them out of the soil of my heart. Things have been dark for so long and I am tired — so I have been quiet, praying inwardly, loathe to let my voice escape. These seeds of depression have taken root.
Last night I searched the concordance for Scriptures on depression — I need more arrows in my quiver. My reading kept bringing me back to the book of Joel, and I was broken by what I read. This unknown, undated prophet describes “the day of the Lord,” a period of judgment in which strange and terrible things will come to pass: things like days covered in darkness, armies that invade like consuming fire, and the moon turning to blood. As I read this dreadful prophecy, it seemed an apt metaphor for what mental illness can do to a family.
SEEDS OF DEPRESSION GROW INTO EMPTINESS
What the locust swarm has left, the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left, the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left, other locusts have eaten. (Joel 1:4)
This is the emptiness I have been feeling. So much has been taken from us by this locust-depression. Who can describe how it devours and steals all that is light?
A nation has invaded my land, powerful and without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white. … Surely the joy of mankind is withered away. (Joel 1:6-7, 12b)
UNABLE TO PRAY THE DARKNESS AWAY
According to the World Health Organization an estimated 350 million people worldwide experience depression — and it is on the rise since the pandemic began. It’s an epidemic. Although there are effective treatments for depression, less than half of those diagnosed ever get treatment. When we talk about depression, we refer to more than the normal ups and downs we experience on a day-to-day basis in response to life’s hassles. Depression is a cluster of symptoms that occur over an extended period of time that can be a serious health risk.
SHARING MY JOURNEY
We’ve been navigating this thing alone. Some weeks are better than others but some days, the locusts swarm and I feel like I am eaten alive. The prophet Joel says, “’Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
I have been unable to pray this dark time away. I have worked in mental health now for almost thirty years, but this experience feels like a millstone around my neck. When it comes to helping someone I love, I cannot control how another person seeks healing. So, I will be sharing the journey through the eyes of the one who loves and sees and keeps trying, the one who grows tired but still can look out over the soil of a relationship and dream about seeds.
Laura J. Boggess
MORE BY LAURA
My husband is a person who has depression, but he is much more than what any label implies. We must fight the stigma of mental illness.