shadow: a state of ignominy or obscurity
ignominy: public shame or disgrace
obscurity: the state of being unknown, inconspicuous or unimportant; the state of being difficult to understand
Despite the progress made over the past several decades in both the medical community and the general public toward better understanding mental health, any form of psychological disease still carries a stigma in some churches and some families.
My first major depressive episode began when I was seventeen. My mother and I talked about it, once. The only ‘solution’ she offered was that I could go talk to the youth pastor. I didn’t; I already knew well enough that in that church, at that time, it was understood that Christians had no reason to be depressed, and if I just prayed about it I’d feel better, and if I didn’t feel better I was harboring some wrong in my heart that I needed to confess and pray through.
So rather than exposing myself to certain lack of understanding, rather than bringing down disgrace and shame upon myself and my family, I put up an acceptable façade and made my true self as inconspicuous as possible. Thus began a years-long sojourn in the shadows, during which the real Rebekah shrank to an unknown entity, even to myself.