My depression clung to me like a black lead cloak. A clasp held the cloak to my shoulders, bound by a lock for which I had no key. I've had various bouts of depression, and each time I shed the cloak only to pick it back up, wrapping it tightly around my shoulders, the key nowhere to be found. Instead, I’d later discover it tucked in a drawer in the back of my mind, forgotten.
I do not remember precisely when I first discovered the cloak, but once I did I wouldn't part with it for a long time. As a teenager living in a world constantly competing for likes, I quickly fell prey to comparison and later depression. But I never gave in to the habit of posting selfies to get attention or wearing makeup to cover my flaws. Perhaps that was my problem. Refusing cultural norms made me peculiar and not worth a second glance to many.
When I compared myself to the girls around me, I didn't measure up. I was overweight, while they all had near-supermodel figures. I was barraged by images of flawless, painted-on faces, sometimes in person and sometimes on social media. Whenever I'd catch a glimpse of my raw, acne-dotted skin in a mirror, I would internally cringe. I wasn't the picture of what a girl should be, and I'm still not. “Why did God make me ugly?” I would think. Wrapping my cloak tighter, I'd sink deeper into darkness.
I turned my attention to my brothers. Surely since they're a different gender, I couldn't compare myself to them . . . but I did. I compared our talents, our sense of humor, and our number of friends. They were both charismatic with significant skills. I, on the other hand, was an introvert whose specialty was reading and writing. “How boring,” I thought. I wondered why God had given my brothers the “cool” talents, and I got the lame ones. Why did I only excel at academics? Why did my brothers make friends effortlessly, and it was like pulling teeth for me? My cloak engulfed me more.
I struggled to breathe under the weight of the lead cloak. To my surprise, the people around me couldn’t see the cloak. Only my inner circle knew I was battling depression, and even then they didn't know the whole story. No one knew how deeply I was enslaved to that cloak. No one knew how fully eclipsed by it I was.
Eventually, I reached the end of my rope. My brain had given way to freighting thoughts, and I knew I had to figure out how to unclasp my cloak. I had to discover how to rid myself of depression. My life depended on it.
The problem was there was no quick way to unlock the clasp. I turned to Christ, crying out in desperation for His help. Crying out to Him brought comfort, but it was only temporary. I quickly felt the weight return. I started fervently reading . . . but not self-help books. I started digging into the Bible. Each new Truth directed me toward the key to my cloak: a pinprick of light amidst the dark, inky night.
Freedom didn’t come quickly or easily. Sometimes finding victory looks like walking in the dead of night and believing God will send some light. It was a long time digging into Scripture till I found the key, turned the lock, and finally dropped the cloak. I was free. While it often seemed like God wasn't going to free me, like I wasn't going to pull through, God made a way. God turned the key. The key was Christ and who I am in Him.