Shadow: (1) an inseparable companion or follower (2) pervasive and dominant influence
The son of a well-known minister of the gospel ended his own life a few nights ago. By all accounts, he was a loving and beloved young man, sensitive and compassionate to the pain of others. Despite his parents’ and his own best efforts to find help through medicine, counseling, and God knows how much prayer, he succumbed to the shadow.
I think it is truly impossible for people who have not had close dealings with mental illness to grasp how dogged a companion depression is, how deep and all-encompassing its reach.
I don’t know why the most carefully-tailored medication regimens, the most faithfully-followed lifestyle adjustment programs, the most empathetic counseling, the most fervent prayers don’t effect a cure. But for many of us, they don’t. We function well most of the time: we work productively, we interact successfully with those around us. We experience moments of genuine happiness. We are grounded in grace and we have ardent hope for the future. But the shadow is never fully dispelled. It is only exiled just out of sight, always hovering, seeking new avenues by which to darken our thoughts, testing old ones again and again. I don’t know why.