To mark this year’s R U OK? Day, Eternity interviewed a bunch of people who have suffered with depression about what it feels like, if they ever wanted to commit suicide, and whether their Christian faith helped them through it.
It turns out, you can be a Christian and have depression.
R U OK? Day is the brainchild of Gavin Larkin, who lost his dad to suicide in 1995. Fourteen years later in 2009, Larkin, together with Janina Nearn, launched the R U OK? Day campaign, driven by a belief that a conversation could change a life.
Eternity’s own Teagan Russell is a long-term sufferer of depression and reflects on the importance of R U OK? Day:
As a long-term depression sufferer myself, and a Christian, I (Teagan) have walked through some incredibly low points, including genuinely seeing death as an option.
When you’re a Christian and you feel that low, it can make you wonder if your faith is even real. It’s easy to ask yourself: ‘Maybe if I just had more faith in God I wouldn’t be feeling like this? Why is it that I feel numb when I try to read my Bible? Where is God when it hurts this much?’
There aren’t any easy solutions or answers to depression. It’s an incredibly complex mental illness, and therefore the healing process will be different for everyone. But, if there’s one thing I know that has helped me and others significantly, it’s support. You simply cannot get through depression alone.
It’s the kind of illness that takes over your mind and body, clouding everything with darkness. You can’t see clearly. Life looks bleak. At its worst, it cripples you and keeps you in bed. It can take every ounce of strength just to get yourself dressed in the morning. There have been seasons my life where brushing my teeth was too difficult.
Depression sufferers need support. I can’t stress that enough. Because it’s an “invisible” illness, and people can remain high-functioning in certain areas of their lives, and onlookers or loved ones can be fooled into thinking that they’re OK. But if you imagine someone with a physical disability, they often require physical support. Think about depression in a similar way. Those suffering from it need you who are mentally well to carry them and support them. They need to lean on you for strength when they don’t have it themselves.
Especially today please ask those around you if they are OK.
Especially today please ask those around you if they are OK, and if they answer no, then follow up. Don’t leave them alone. Continually reach out to them on a daily basis. Offer to take them places and make sure they are surrounded by loving community. Depression makes you want to withdraw and isolate yourself, but that’s the worst thing. So please, if you know anyone today suffering from this illness – reach out and really care.
And if you find yourself covered by the black cloud right now, please know you are not alone. Many others are and have been there too, and you’re going to get through it. One day at a time. Keep going. Don’t give up. Reach out. You are not alone.
It’s a conversation we need to be having with our loved ones, and not just on R U OK? day.
If you or someone you know needs support, please call:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467