Depression and anxiety can be signs of serious mental illnesses that are often completely draining and debilitating. In this article, Haylee Potter, who manages our Creative Department gives a vulnerable and thought-provoking insight into her own battle with mental illness.

Growing up near the beach you become familiar with the rhythm of the sea. You learn how to ride the waves, how to swim through rips & how to follow the tide. But there are always times when it surprises you. The wave you didn’t see coming, the rip that’s too strong to fight and the tide that’s moving too fast. In those moments, you feel fear and panic as you are pulled under and tossed around by a force stronger than you. It feels impossible to find your way back to the surface, to get your head above the water and find your breath.

Three years ago, while I was overseas, I found myself being taken under and tossed around by the realities of anxiety and depression. My days were consumed with fear, my nights with panic. I lost all sense of where I was, who I was and why I was still alive. Everything felt dark. I struggled to find my breath and no matter how hard I tried to fight, I just couldn’t get above it all.

It was suffocating, it was isolating and it felt hopeless.

One day, I was reading the Psalms and I found this passage in Psalm 88.

 “I’ve had my fill of trouble; I’m camped on the edge of hell. I’m written off as a lost cause, one more statistic, a hopeless case. Abandoned as already dead, one more body in a stack of corpses and not so much as a gravestone— I’m a black hole in oblivion. You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit, sunk me in a pitch-black abyss. I’m battered senseless by your rage, relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger. You turned my friends against me, made me horrible to them. I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out, blinded by tears of pain and frustration.” – Psalm 88:2-9 (MSG) 

This is exactly what depression was telling me. This is how anxiety made me feel.

When you’re in it, you feel like you’re being battered between waves. It’s so hard to see a way out. Yet the Bible was saying to me that there was one. There was a hope so strong and so powerful, which could override the waves and draw me back to the surface.

Psalm 31 is an incredible passage that has meant so much to me. It tells the story of David praising God as his rescuer, whilst caught in the midst of danger. Even though he was in distress and consumed by anguish, he chose to hope and trust in God. He couldn’t choose the circumstances he was facing, but he could choose to hope. I realised through this story, that hope wasn’t something that was just going to happen to me. You don’t fall asleep one day and wake up with hope. It was a decision I had to make. It was something I had to choose and hold onto. Every day I read this passage, I studied it and slowly I learnt how to choose hope.

When you’re in it, you feel like you’re being battered between waves. It’s so hard to see a way out.

When everything felt dark, it was a choice to see the glimpses of light. When I was frozen with fear, it was a choice to take a step. When my world seemed to cave in on me, it was a choice to lift my head and look to Him.

Our reality is that there is a rescuer. There is a God who sees us in our pain and our brokenness and walks us through it. He holds us, He sets our feet in spacious places and He shows us the wonders of His love.

You don’t escape a wave by fighting it. You don’t get out of a rip by swimming against it. You still yourself, you learn the rhythm, you find the break in the motion and then you choose to swim.

There are still days when the waves come, when I feel myself being pulled under, but it is there and then that I stop. I look for a rhythm in my schedule, I find rest and strength in God and I choose to continue on.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” – Psalm 31:24

I hope this helps you.