Six years ago, my sister, Rachel, drifted out to sea — not a body of water, but the dark depths of depression. Looking back, I shouldn't have been surprised. Family crises, chronic health problems, and other factors combined for a perfect storm and sent her spiraling downward. Rachel sat for hours, wracked by sobs, her eyes empty and sad. She raged over insignificant things and withdrew from activities and people she enjoyed. Pressures of single parenting added even more weight. Fighting fatigue, Rachel willed herself out of bed every morning, only to repeat the routine.
I grieved for my sister and for myself. I missed our spiritual talks, our prayer times, our silly laughter while mall crawling. And I couldn't understand how a person so committed to Christ could be so enveloped by mental darkness. Despite my prayers, each day Rachel slipped farther out into the emotional deep, while I stood on the shore, helpless and confused.
I wasn't the only one struggling. Folks at church witnessed Rachel's disturbing moods and suspected a spiritual low had settled in her. They offered help. Some urged her to read the Bible more, pray, or listen to praise music. Others tried to cheer her up. One Sunday morning, a fellow member planted herself beside Rachel and announced, "I'm going to sit here till you smile."
What this person didn't realize is what I failed to realize at first — that a person in depression can't just put on a happy face. I decided to get help from a Christian therapist and do my own research, and it was one of the best decisions I've made. Thanks to these, I have learned that depression isn't always easy to comprehend, but we can offer companionship to those adrift on its turbulent waters.1