My Depression, My Calling: Learning About Hope in the Face of Hopelessness


KI is Canadian-born but grew up in West Africa and is now living in a MoveIn patch in North West Africa. Since the age of 13 she has struggled on-and-off with various mental illnesses including Anorexia, anxiety and depression. She writes from her personal experience and her background in Psychology. 

What is the point? Why am I even here? I’m just making things worse for everyone.

These thoughts flood my mind like muddy water as my eyes open on the third consecutive day of not having the energy or desire to leave my bed. Bed is safe. Bed is known. There are no people in my bed who can hurt me or who are hurting. By contrast, the world out there is terrifying and painful.

Maybe it was all the pain that drove me to this mind-numbing depression. The backlog of grief which there has never been time to process. Or maybe it was the transition of moving from Canada to one of the poorest countries in the world (which I guess causes more loss and grief), even though in some ways moving was coming home. Maybe it was the stress of starting a new, highly intense job for which I have no training and in which I am speaking a language that is not my first language. Or maybe it really is a physical illness. Maybe my brain is broken and unable to
function as it should. Maybe it was none of these things. Or maybe it was all of them.

I don’t really know. But the cause doesn’t seem very important in the face of the vacuum that is depression. I don’t really need to know why I feel like there is a one-ton truck parked on my chest, I just want to be able to take a shower without feeling crushed and overwhelmed. I just want to feel like I function. Like I’m not a liability to my team. Like I’m not a burden to our host family (I’m not a fan of that term… let’s just call them our family). Like I’m not just hurting everyone around me.

Why would God call me here? Did he call me here? Is there really any such thing as “calling”?

Because God must be crazy to think that calling someone this broken and sick to the “missions field” to be a witness for him and share the gospel was a good idea. If it wasn’t just some kind of cosmic mistake where he got his “calling” cards mixed up, he must be out of his mind.

It makes no sense.

But I guess that’s God and his subversive kingdom. The one where the weak and foolish shame the strong and the wise. The one where God comes to dwell among us and hang out with the sick and the “sinners,” not the right and the righteous. The one where he chooses to work through and elevate the “least of these” because it demonstrates his goodness and glory.

It doesn’t really answer the question, “Why am I here?” Because I can’t say for sure that there is a redemptive purpose to my depression. I don’t know if God will heal me during my lifetime. I don’t know if I will learn to hope and to share hope with others who have no hope. But I do know I would be sick no matter where I lived: in a slum in a poor African country, in an inner-city apartment in Toronto, or in a plush, suburban duplex in Edmonton. I know I would be because I have been and I know that it must be grace that I’m here. In some strange way I am learning to be strong in ways I never have before. I am inspired to get out of my bed when I look around and see people, whose circumstances should drive them to much more despair than mine, getting out of bed every day and laughing and refusing to give up hope. And maybe it’s guilt, but maybe it’s also grace that I am learning that a lot of despair is a privilege and those with less privilege have become the ones who are teaching me to hope