By Ashley Doran
Hello, My name is Ashley Doran, and I have depression.
When I started at Northwestern in 2013, I thought those “dumb” feelings I had in high school were going to go away. However, I quickly fell back into an endless pit of self-loathing. Byy September 2015, I was crying all the time – for any number of reasons – and made an appointment with a doctor. The diagnosis? Depression and anxiety.
How on earth could I have depression? I tended to be happy – or at least appear happy on the outside. How am I going to go back to school and act normal when I have to take medication to be happy? As Spring Break 2015 was approaching, I felt like I had hit a wall, but I went on a spring service project to Lindale, Texas anyway. We served at Calvary Commission, and I felt free and healthy while we were there. I did not want to come back to where I was before. Nevertheless, I returned and so did the depression, as it hit me like a train and threw me into a pit I am still trying to climb out of.
Depression is an invisible disorder that many people can hide. No one can see it, but it is there. Though it’s hard when people see me sad or upset, I think there is a lot of healing when we share our struggles and stories with each other. I want people to know I struggle, just like most humans. I struggle with relationships – especially with God. I have tried to question God, why would he make me this way? I have pages and pages in my prayer journal just asking God to heal me, but I have just gotten worse. Though I felt like I walked away from God, I continue to feel God’s presence and him encouraging me to read scripture and journal.
I am so blessed to have such a wonderful college to go to with faculty and staff who care so much about the wellbeing of their students. I thank God for anyone who has come alongside me, whether they know it or not. They have made a great impact on my life. It is easy to say that it will get better, but sometimes it gets worse. In all of this, though, I know that there is a purpose for why I am here.
“You’ll be okay.” Just that short statement gets me through tough times and reminds me that life is hard. The good news in this is that God is greater. He will walk in front of me, behind me, and beside me to pick me up and to clean up my cuts and bruises and say, “You’ll be okay, my child, I’m with you.”
Ashley, thanks for inviting us into your journey. Your story is a reminder of what King David wrote so many years ago about his own journey with God, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you, O God, are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Ps. 23:4-6) Surely, we are claimed anew in Christ Jesus. Though we struggle to walk in this new identity purchased for us, He chooses to walk with us.