If you’re familiar with the Star Wars film series, you just might remember this scene in Episode VI:
That thing in the ground with the tongue sticking out is a creature called the “sarlacc.” I could go into all the background of where it came from, how it got to that hole in the ground, but I want to talk about what it does to its victims. (Of course, this is all fictional, but it serves a point.)
Wookiepedia (the Star Wars wiki) puts it so:
Only the sarlacc’s gaping maw could be seen from the surface, with the vast majority of its huge body lying beneath the ground. It lay in wait for any living creature to stumble into its maw, and additionally, it pulled nearby victims in with one of its many tentacles. A sarlacc’s mouth was surrounded by rows of retractable razor-sharp teeth, used to chew victims during adolescence, before the digestive system was fully formed. Adult sarlaccs developed a beaked, snake-like tongue at the center of the fearsome pit, which doubled as a mouth.
After being swallowed by the tongue, the victim made its way into the sarlacc’s stomach to be digested, purportedly being kept alive and slowly digested for a millennium. A strong network of vessels inside the stomach punctured the victim’s skin and muscles and then embedded itself into victims before injecting neurotoxins into them, preventing the victims from escaping and ensuring that they remained immersed in the acidic fluids in the stomach, and attached to the walls of the stomach.
Pretty gruesome, to put it mildly. You get sucked in and then slowly digested for a thousand years until you’re completely broken down. You’re alive for as long as you can be until your body is dismantled or you pass away by other causes.
That’s what a downward spiral of depression can feel like.
I’ve been depressed the majority of this week. As an adult, the pressures of some things get to me in ways that I didn’t expect, I think because I haven’t dealt with them before. Money, jobs, relationships, the usual fare. But little things get to me too: people disagreeing with me, sometimes even looking at a woman at all, little sinful thoughts that I deal with right away.
It’s a downward spiral, as I said. Let me give an example of how it works.
I’m sitting in my office at work, and I’m watching a YouTube video of a movie trailer. The inevitable glimpse of a sex scene in a movie flashes on the screen, and I feel guilty right away for even seeing it. Then I wonder, “Shouldn’t I have stayed away from that video if I knew it was going to be in there?” So now I feel guilty for even watching the video. Step 1: a little depressed.
Around lunchtime, I go out to grab something to eat and pay money for it. I then think about my bank account and how it definitely has less money in it than it should. I haven’t been spending money wisely. I get anxious about how I’m going to pay for things. Step 2: a little more depressed.
A little later that day, I’m sitting in my office and I start thinking about how my job isn’t what I wanted it to be. I’m bored as crap and not doing anything productive. For a moment, I wish I had done something else. Like got a different job. Crazy, right? Step 3: a little more depressed.
A little later, I go to church. I have a conversation with a friend and we disagree about something. It’s not a fight, it’s not hostile, it’s perfectly normal. But I take it hard for some reason I can’t explain. I’m a little upset that that friend didn’t agree with me, and then I get upset that I got upset. I shouldn’t get upset at this! I shouldn’t be mad! Who am I to think that everyone would agree with everything I say? Step 4: even a little more depressed.
By this point I’m down and out. I’m deep in the sarlacc’s mouth, being chewed up consistently. And I feel like sh…poop. There’s decay. I’m being broken down.
What to do? What should I do? What the heck is next?
I’ve got to, I need to, I must run to Jesus. I must remember the promises in His Word. I must pray and seek His grace to help. It’s super hard to do this when you’re in the pit. That’s why I need people around me who can point me to spiritual truth, who can remind me of Scripture. That’s why I need reminders in my life of who Jesus is and what He says of me.
I’m not writing this post looking for you to feel sorry or bad for me. I want to simply help those who don’t deal with depression understand where those of us who do are coming from and the difficulties we struggle with.
Depression is often real sadness taken to the nth degree. This is my attempt to explain it and to raise awareness for it within the Christian context. There’s not enough of it.