Margaret Lanning once needed others to understand everything about her. Then she realized she really didn’t have to explain her depression to anyone.
By Margaret Lanning
Wendy was a petite little thing with big blue eyes on a heart-shaped face. There was a fragility about her that made me want to shield her from the cruelness of the world. We were close in college. Besties. I would have done almost anything to earn some peace for her.
We struggled together. My struggle was significance. Hers was an immense need to be understood.
Secretly, I couldn’t fathom why she had such a desire for other people to comprehend the reasons behind her every thought, feeling, and action. It held her tightly and anxiously whenever there was conflict. I did not envy her.
Wendy and I drifted apart. The last I knew, she had cut herself off from many of her loved ones. Who knows? Maybe she found the isolated life squelched the need for understanding that inevitably arose whenever she was around people.
Over time, my thoughts began drifting back to Wendy. As my children and my responsibilities grew, what had begun as mild depression started to squeeze the joy out of me. I found myself doing things or not doing things that couldn’t easily be explained. I no longer wanted to socialize with friends. I dropped out of all activities except work and church. I retreated to bed a lot. I experienced no enjoyment in things I used to love.
The result? I found myself in a place eerily similar to that of my college bestie. I began to work harder and harder to explain myself. I’m so sorry I forgot to pick up my child, I wasn’t feeling well and fell asleep … I think I’m going to stay home tonight. I haven’t felt good for a really long time … No, I can’t volunteer, I can barely get out of bed …
The problem was, even I didn’t know what was going on.
“It’s hard for me to explain my inner churnings, but that’s okay.”
In my most honest moments, I wanted to tell everyone, so they would understand, sympathize, pray for me, leave me alone, not leave me alone … please don’t leave me alone. But even my own husband, try as he might, couldn’t understand.
Soon, casual acquaintances fell away. Some close friends left. Unexpected relationships formed with people to whom I didn’t have to explain myself. And I was growing quieter in the best way possible.
My relationship with my Creator had become strained. I had believed He charted my path. But how could He have led me here to this horrible emotional and physical nightmare? I couldn’t pray. I could only imagine the back of His human form walking forward. But soon, I began to soak in the written page that promised He understood and would never leave me. I went from reading to believing.
When I really needed to talk, I learned to seek out the ones who had walked a similar path before me. There were only one or two of those, but they were all I needed. I didn’t need to broadcast my pain to the masses, but to hunker down over a vanilla chai with the few souls who weren’t afraid of me or my struggles. I even modified what I said to my husband. I never lied, I just summarized. I no longer needed him or anyone else to fix me.
That’s what it was, wasn’t it? I wanted to be understood so that I could be fixed. I had looked around for so long for someone who had answers for me. As painful as it was, the realization that no human had all the answers was freeing. I didn’t have to rely on others anymore. I began truly trusting in a greater benevolent power who charted my path.
It’s hard for me to explain my inner churnings, but that’s OK. To this day, I have off days and on days. I have days when I have nothing to say, and days when I want attention, and days when I want to encourage someone else through tough times. I don’t need many people to understand. I just need a hug, a prayer, a nod. I am known and loved and understood in the best way possible–by a significant few among the masses.
Printed as “Viewpoint: When There Are No Words”, Summer 2018
via Esperanza – Hope To Cope
(This and our other articles are provided by some of our curated resources. We encourage readers to support them and continue to look to these sources in times of need and opportunity.)