When my older brother was mired in a depression that eventually took his life, one of the most difficult aspects of trying to explain things to him was in the area of admitting the truth. He didn’t want to tell anyone he needed help. He didn’t want anyone to know.
Now on the one hand I completely understand. It’s those chips out of that perfect vase. We don’t want anyone to know we have chips because then they might judge us, and they might shun us, and oh, the shame of someone knowing that we’re not perfect! Believe me, I know.
I think at first there was some pride involved. “I’m a successful businessman. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen to me.” In fact, one day he told me outright, “No one in my position with this kind of financial success has this kind of problem.” Of course, this isn’t true. Plenty of people who look very successful on the outside are miserable and hurting on the inside. Plenty of people are crying out for help. He was not alone.
But pride and then fear convinced him that he was. And he believed them.
How much he kept buried, I don’t know, but I do know there were moments that the guilt and shame of his new reality were overwhelming. To him, others knowing he was hurting and struggling seemed to be worse even that he was hurting and struggling. He convinced himself he could deal with the struggle and the hurt if everyone else just didn’t know.
I remember when he went into the mental facility a year before his death. My cousin, knowing we needed the prayer power, put out a call on a prayer loop asking for prayers for us. My parents thought this was a great idea until my brother found out, and he was somewhere between terrified and livid. “What will everybody think?”
“Uh, they’ll think that we need the prayers.” And we did. But this insidiousness crept into the rest of us as well. By the time my brother went to Dallas a month before his death trying to get help, we were gun shy about telling anybody. My aunt called my sister one day trying to find out what was going on with him, and why hadn’t anyone called her to tell her he had gone to Dallas? And I couldn’t blame her–she was, after all, his Godmother!
It wasn’t that she would’ve been judgmental and harsh. Much the opposite. She was praying with everything she had. I’m sure there was some hurt in those who weren’t let in on the fact that there was a real problem—especially when they had been so supportive throughout the entire ordeal.
The truth of the matter is that we all need help, we all have moments of real, true need, and if we can’t reach out in those moments for support and love and prayers, then Satan’s chains of pride and fear are indeed doing their job. For me and my life, I have vowed not to let them do that to me ever again. Am I scared about telling others where I really am with myself sometimes? Yes. But I will not let fear win. I will not let it get even a toehold in my spirit.
If you’re hurting, get help. If you are struggling, ask for prayer. Reach out. Don’t try to go it alone. I have learned that the fight is too important and the stakes are too high.
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2007
Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a #1 Best Selling author and the co-founder CrossReads.com a new website that gives Christian readers and authors a place to meet and fellowship. With a newsletter, a blog, a forum, and other exciting, inspiring areas to visit, CrossReads visitors can find fabulous Christian books they never knew existed.
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