“Genie, you’re free.”

Out of all the things that were posted last night and today, in regard to the death of Robin Williams, that is the quote that brought me to tears. I’m not sure why on the surface of it. It’s from a movie. Spoken by a fictional character. And the line refers to the fact that the genie is now free of his lamp. Poignant? Yes. It made me cry when I saw the movie years ago and it made me cry again last night. But for two very different reasons…

April Fiet made this comment yesterday on twitter, “I was 17 when the darkness closed in. I cried for the light to return. I wasn’t sad. I was trapped.” 

Do you know how it feels to have the darkness close in? Kind of like slowly passing out. The darkness starts at the periphery, at the edge, and takes your sight from you. It slips up from behind and beside you slowly taking you under. And you are powerless to stop it. Those last three words though are the ones that hit me in the gut, effectively knocking all the air right out of me. “I was trapped.” Because yes, that’s exactly what depression feels like. You feel like you are in a cage you can’t escape. Icy hands around your throat. Around your heart. Squeezing all your joy, all your faith, all your life cruelly out of you.

These next three paragraphs come from Living at the Edge, where I spoke a little about my battle with depression…

Why has the church so sanitized Christianity that we can’t be real with each other? That we can’t be honest when asked how we are. It seems the church has become so afraid of tainting their witness (ugh) or more accurately their reputation, that we can’t and won’t tell the truth. We’re afraid to be judged and found unacceptable. The church is afraid of our brokenness. Jesus has been made into a sad caricature of who He really is. Our pie in the sky savior who makes everything perfect and all people happy and problem free. Or the uncaring King of the hill who expects perfection and bullies us until we fall in line, defeated and broken. Smiles plastered on our faces as we sink deeper into the darkness.

Those of us battling depression, addiction, anger, bitterness, or insert your poison of choice, have no place in the church. We are the marginalized. We find ourselves living on the fringes. Outcasts hoping for Grace to find its way to us. We’ve been forced to find community outside the traditional walls of the church. Where we’re not afraid to say the hard things because we know we will be accepted. Where we know we will be loved. Where we know we will be cared for. Where we know we can speak our truth.

Life sucks right now. I’m living at the edge of depression. I want, no, I need that drink, that line, that pill. I’m pissed off. I’m drowning in this sea of bitterness. I want to feel the release as the blade makes it’s mark. I want to lose myself so I don’t have to feel anything. Yet, I long to be known. I long to be seen. I long to be validated.

 
There’s no amount of prayer or confession of sin that will make that right. That’s where the church and Christians in general get this all wrong. When you say I haven’t prayed enough or searched deep and long enough for that unconfessed sin, you throw gasoline on the fire smoldering just under my skin. You feed the voices that tell me I have no worth. The voices that tell me I am not loved. The voices that tell me God has no use for me. The voices that tell me the world would be better off without me.
 
 You tell me I’m selfish but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I wear this mask of happiness to spare those around me the despair that I am feeling.
 
You tell me I have a choice. There are times my choice includes the urge to drive my car off the bridge spanning the Tennessee River. And if I make that choice, I will go to hell. But when I feel that way, that hell seems an easier choice than the hell on earth I am living.
 
You tell me to cast my cares on the Lord. That I must not have enough faith.
 
You tell me my depression is from the devil. That I need to rebuke the oppression or possession of the demons.
 
You tell me to pray for healing. When healing doesn’t happen I wonder why God won’t help me. Why he has abandoned me. Why my prayers fall on deaf ears.
 
You question my salvation.
 
You judge me when I need compassion and understanding. When I need help. Not theology.
 
You judge me…
 
 
 
 
When all of our hope has slipped through our fingers, when we have nothing else to hold on to, all we want is to be free. Because the end of hope really is where hell begins. And none of us want to live a life in hell. We need you to accept that life is not black and white. That there are no simple answers. That we can’t pray this away. We need you to understand that until you walk a mile in our shoes, you really have no idea what you are talking about.
 
We need you to walk alongside us, to love us without judgment. To walk with us for help. We need to know that we are not alone…*I understand there has been some controversy over the phrase which is the title of this post, Genie, you’re free. I am in no way advocating that taking your own life is the answer to finding freedom from whatever demons haunt us. It is simply describing what we all want when battling those feelings of hopelessness – freedom. Freedom from the oppression and the hopelessness. If you are at a point that you can’t take any more please know there are people who care about you and want to help you…

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE
1-800-273-8255
suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

 
 
“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not.
The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”
Robin Williams
 

This article has 3 comments

  1. Linda Andres Reply

    When I was at the bottom and had placed myself on a psych ward where they would protect me from myself, there were those who asked how I, at that time a pastor's wife, could say I believe in God and be going through that severe depression. They had the wrong question. How was I going to make it through without God? The scriptures people brought to me fell on numbed ears but I wasn't lacking faith. I could read no book, no pamphlet given to help me. The only thing I could read was the Psalm we had sung in high school — Psalm 77 — God's footsteps walked through this storm even though I couldn't see them. The Christian walking through depression has much to teach the church about faith. The me I was at that time is the memory that helps me when I begin to doubt God. And one woman in the hospital chose to accept God in her life a few months later. When I asked her what made the difference she told me that because God was with me in that darkness so great that when she first talked to me I could hardly answer, then God could be present for her as she battled the depression in her own life. She saw God with me even before I recognized his presence as more than a holding on to something I had been taught was true. That was in April of 1987. I will never forget.
    A song reminded me of that months later when I began to doubt the darkness would end. I still struggle with the dark and have to deal with suicidal thought more often than I would like to have to admit for honesty but I haven't forgotten. I don't know why I lived and others haven't. My heart grieves deeply though when I hear of one more person who has lost the battle though. And once again I speak my story so that maybe one less person will feel the hopelessness in the dark cage.

  2. Carol Vinson Reply

    Linda,

    I see so much of myself in your story. And yes, our stories are so important because you never know who you may touch. I debated about whether or not to post at all. So many other writers who are much more widely read and much more prominent in this arena than I am had already spoken, and spoken so well. But then I realized that there are those who need to know that us regular folks also live with these same demons…

    "She saw God with me even before I recognized his presence as more than a holding on to something I had been taught was true."

    I love this – that someone else's seeing God in you – sometimes that's all that we need. That's the nudge that let's us know that even when we feel like he is silent and distant, he is in fact always with us. And that's the hope someone else grabs hold of in the midst of their own darkness.

    Than you so much for taking the time to comment and for reading. Your encouragement has meant much at a time that I am hanging by a thread.

  3. Linda Andres Reply

    During my stay in the hospital it was that silly poster of the kitten hanging with its claws holding on to the end of the rope that gave me the first flickers of light. If you are interested in reading what I have written about depressions and about the feelings stirred in the last week, here are a couple of my posts:

    https://ljandie57.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/a_flicker_of_light/

    https://ljandie57.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/lord-help-me-remember/
    It doesn't matter how many other people have written or if we think our words are the best ones out there, I have been taught through my site that sometimes it is my words that make the difference. Our words can't do that if we don't risk sharing them.
    Peace to you. The nice thing about being in the body of Christ is that even if some around us can't respond, we are still connected to the life line that makes us one as He and his Father are one.

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