Throughout my life, I have met several people who are affected by depression.
One of those is my good friend, Ryan. He and I spoke about how the effects that depression has on him and how he came to be involved with the Hope for the Day organization. Keep reading to hear his story:
Depression really started affecting me when my dad hurt his back. Just seeing how he went through surgery, and then not being able to work and feeling the weight of not being able to provide for his family. It really crushed me, and with things that have happened in my life, I mean, I’ve lost a lot of people within the last four or five years.
What kind of kickstarted it all was when a good friend of mine's brother was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. And when his little brother died, it crushed me. I love that little dude. That was the beginning of the downward spiral.
When my great grandma died, that really sank me even deeper. She was a huge part of my life as far as my faith goes. For a while, things were better, but with my depression comes anxiety too.
I’ve always had really bad social anxiety that has developed into full-on anxiety. I’ll just be sitting at home in a good mood and all of a sudden, it’s like the flip of a switch, I’ll just be really anxious for no reason. I won’t want to do anything and I won’t want to get out of bed sometimes.
What’s really been hard on me was when my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer. My grandpa is my rock and I couldn’t even picture life without him. Then losing one of my best friends a little over a year ago.
I mean, it’s more or less everything that’s happened in the last few years has dug that hole deeper and deeper. When it really hits me, it feels like I’ve run into a brick wall and there’s no where for me to go.
It’s like I’m stuck in a pit trying to climb my way out, but every time I get close to the top of the hole, I slip and fall right back into it. That kind of stuff is different for everyone who deals with it and how it makes them feel and what they experience when they’re going through it.
It got to the point where about four years ago I was ready to just walk away from everything and end it all. I didn’t see the value in my life.
I got a phone call from my buddy Josh:
J: “Hey man. What are you doing?”
R: “Nothing, just sitting in my room.”
J: He could tell just from the tone of my voice that something wasn’t right, “You okay, man?”
R: I tried to play it off like, “I’m fine, man. Just hanging in my room.”
J: “No. Something’s not right. What’s going on?”
That’s when I told him what I was thinking about and what was going through my mind. The first thing he said to me was, “I’m not going to try and change your mind or anything, but I just want you to hear me out.” He told me that my life is worth something and that I don’t have to do things alone.
Right around that time, too, was when I turned my back on God. Like if He really loved me and cared about me, why would He put me through this? Why would He take the people that are closest to me away from me? People who are in my life to keep me close to Him, but yet He took them away from me.
It didn’t make any sense to me. I couldn’t comprehend it at the time, but now looking back on it, I know that it all happened for a reason. It’s made me stronger and developed me into the person I am today.
As far as working for Hope for the Day, I stopped by their booth at the Warped tour this past year (2017) talked to a few of the representatives there. I told them about what I’ve been going through, and they sat and talked with me for a good hour and a half, almost two hours, that day.
I was amazed at the fact that they took time to talk to someone that they’ve never met before in their life. About two or three weeks after that, I was reflecting on them and was like, “I want to get involved with these guys.” So, I shot them a message on Facebook and they told me what I needed to do to become a volunteer.
I had to take a mental health first aid class, and it was absolutely awesome. I learned a lot about the signs of different mental illnesses, what to look for, and how to help people. I also learned a lot about myself and how to deal and cope with what I struggle with.
Having the support of my family and friends, and playing on the worship team at my church every Sunday, that really gives me peace of mind. Like, if I’ve had a bad week, I can go Sunday morning and even during rehearsal for service that morning, I can feel the weight physically lifted off my shoulders and have that peace of mind and just feel it.
It’s not only an amazing thing, but it’s a beautiful thing in itself. I know that when I feel down and out and that there’s no point, that there is a point.
We experience things in life for a reason, and what those reasons are, we may never know, but I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I find myself a lot when I start asking, “Why does this happen? Why? Why? Why?” and I don’t get the answers I’m looking for right away, that’s when my depression really kicks in.
I just want answers sometimes, and when those don’t come right away it feels like, well, what’s the point? And I can happily say that I’m not at the point anymore where I feel like I’m not worth anything and that’s a huge weight and wonderful feeling.
Everyone experiences highs and lows, and it’s just good to know that in the bad days I can turn to my friends and my family and even to God for guidance. And, yeah, I might not get the answers that I’m looking for right away or in the way I was expecting, but there’s been a lot of questions that I’ve asked that have been answered in the absolute strangest ways. Like, I don’t even know to explain it other than divine intervention.
You mentioned having social anxiety. How does that play out in social situations?
When it comes to being at shows and playing at shows, it’s not as bad. But if I’m at a bar with my friends, like yeah I’m there with my friends, but I kind of keep to myself. There are times when I’m at shows where I can feel my anxiety overwhelming me, but the phrase “music saves” is so true.
When my anxiety is really bearing down on me at a show, as the show goes on, that overwhelming peace that I mentioned earlier finds its way and I’m usually fine. Then again, there are nights where I’m like “I don’t want to be here.” And I just wind up going home early.
There are some Bible verses that I usually turn to when my depression is really getting at me:
Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.
Psalm 3:3 But you Lord are a shield around me. My glory, the one who lifts my head high.
Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand.
Psalm 31:22 & 24 You heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord.”
That feeling of hopelessness, when I felt like there was no point, that’s exactly what I felt. The perfect word to describe it would be hopelessness. I just lost hope and faith that things would get better.
One of my favorite song lyrics ever is by The Color Morale (from “Walkers”) and that is, “Hope never loses us.”That lyric alone speaks volumes. We may lose hope, but hope is always there. It’s not going to go anywhere. It’s up to us to find that hope again.
Another lyric is, “We’re not useless, just used, and I see something in you that I’m going to prove. Useless and used, we've been used, this is what we’re all going through.”
I have a tattoo of an anchor that says hope on it, and each letter has a different word that stands for, “hold on, pain ends.”That alone is just a huge saving grace in itself.
Just knowing that no matter what we go through even in the darkest times of our lives, to just hold onto the hole and know that the pain that we go through in life is just temporary and that it’s not going to be permanent. That peace will find us eventually. We just have to hold on, have faith, and trust in God’s promises that he made to us that he’s never going to leave our side and is always going to be there with us.
To kind of sum things up, that’s kind of one of the biggest reasons why I am even still alive. Just knowing that I have God on my side is more than enough. Just knowing that I have God on my side and that He’s always there for me. He knows everything about me even from way before I was even born. It is such a saving grace in itself.
Hope for the Day uses music as a way to talk about mental health, and their goal is to get rid of the stigmas that people put on those who are struggling with the mental health issues.
Some of the statements that are out there are just absolutely mind blowing that people would be thinking this way: that all people with mental illnesses are crazy, they’re insane, they deserve to be locked away, that they’re gonna just one day decided to shoot up a bunch of people. I mean you see all the time in the news and while some of those cases may be true, at the same time it’s few and far between.
One thing is that these people don’t have the right resources and they don’t know how to talk about it. Hope for the day, their saying is that it’s OK not to be OK. I absolutely love that.
It’s just reaffirming that you don’t have to feel ostracized, no one cares about you, or that you’re in it alone because really we’re never alone. Whether it’s our friends and family, but more importantly it’s knowing that God’s always going to be there.
I like the name Hope For the Day because it’s just taking things one day at a time. To not worry about how you’re going to feel a week or a month from now, just to know that you’re going to be fine today. It’s something that I apply a lot to my life.
To get involved, you just have to reach out to them. I got a hold of them just by messaging them on Facebook and they guided me on the way I need to go about doing things.
As far as the mental health first aid class that they’d have you take, you would go to Mental Health First Aid and go up to the menu, select find a course, and take a one day course, which is an eight-hour class. You just register for the free class and take it, and send your certificate to Hope For the Day.
The class was a huge eye-opener for me because I didn’t really know what to look for and they go into a lot of detail. The class got really emotional as people shared their stories. I shared my story and gave my testimony about how I almost ended it all, and I even had to walk out of the classroom just to kind of regather myself because it was just a very heavy day, but it was good in the long run.
It’s OK not to be OK. There are resources out there and there are people that care about you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone and talk to them just to talk. Even if they don’t say anything back, it doesn’t mean that they’re not listening or they don’t care.
For me, turning to God is important, but I’m not trying to pressure anyone reading this.
Never let anyone discourage you, never let anyone try to put you down or tell you that you’re not worth anything. It may not be easy to let that go in one ear and out the other, but anytime anyone tries to put you down or make you feel worthless, know that is an absolute lie.
Just to know that you’re worth everything and know you’re not alone. There are resources out there for you, and that’s one of my biggest goals and why I work with Hope For the Day now. I have stacks of cards with information and I put that and other stuff on tables so it is readily available for people.