Silence can be deafening.
It can fill a whole room, a whole body, a whole heart.
It’s a lonely, depressing ache that goes on and on. How I wish for the breath to say something, to find words, to hear my voice.
The silence is emptiness and emptiness is deadly, dark and meaningless.
Silence, for me, was a way of coping. As long as I remained quiet, as long as I pretended I had it all together, then maybe I would be OK. Or at least people would think I was OK.
But I wasn’t OK. I was falling apart.
My secrets ripped me apart, caused me to hide in the shadows, and question my existence. Did I deserve to take up space, resources, air? The thoughts were loud and angry. The train whistle cut through the silence several times a day. There was life somewhere outside of my apartment.
It’s hard to imagine someone like Robin Williams, who has the resources to access the best doctors, best medicines, and best therapy could fall into the deafening silence. There’s a cruel irony in entertaining the masses, yet dying inside. Tears of a clown or something like that.
Those of us who have been there or are there or live with constant battle against the darkness know what it’s like. The silence only makes the illness more pronounced because the angry thoughts swirl around, the clichés become tormenting (“Why don’t you…?” “Someone has it worse.” “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” “Trust in the Lord”), and it’s a sad, lonely place.
If someone like Robin Williams couldn’t make it through the pestilence of mental illness, specifically depression, what hope is there for the rest of us? We swallow our pills, see our therapists, practice using our coping skills, and hope against hope we’ll make it.
We hope and pray that we won’t end up like Robin Williams all the while wondering if we will.
There’s a choice in suicide. There’s always a choice. It’s just hard to make sense of what’s up and what’s down in mental illness, which doesn’t make sense at all. Yet everyone seems to have an opinion on depression, anxiety, PTSD, and so forth. Just like week someone told me I couldn’t possibly have PTSD because I’ve never been in combat. Oh, yes, I’ve seen combat, just not in the military. The world is its own battlefield.
The reason why I’m alive, the reason why I didn’t tighten the noose around my neck or jump in front of that train was this—hope. No matter how small, God placed that hope in my heart when I was a little girl. Though I had run away, battered and bruised from the Church, His hope kept me alive.
It may sound overly simplistic, but maybe it is that simple. Maybe hope really is an anchor to my soul—an anchor firmly rooted in Christ Himself. Christ died every possible death so that I could live. Through the brokenness of my life, He shines forth. Into the deafening silence, His voice speaks.
Into the deafening silence, His voice speaks the words of hope I desperately need to hear. His soft whisper drowns out the angry thoughts. His truth slices through well-intentioned, but ill-timed clichés.
In a world that judges, God accepts me just as I am and uses me despite my weakness. Because of God, I have meaning and I don’t have to be silent anymore. I can speak out of my weakness because He has made me a display of splendor.
In the deafening silence, His sure whisper can be heard. Perhaps it’s in silence, God can be best heard.