I have decided to start writing about my struggle with depression. I’ve debated this for awhile. I’m not ashamed of it. I don’t care who knows about it. As a Christian, I think we should talk about it more actually. I guess I just wanted to wait until I was 100% healed so I could write about what I “used to” struggle with but…. its been years now and I still struggle.
I don’t want to mislead. I’m not stuck or in the same place I was 5 years ago. I am miles down the road (to God be the Glory!) but my ‘road’ has taken turns, highs, lows and everything in between. There has been, however, one end and one goal through out it all: Jesus! Around every dark corner and in every low, He has been there. And wow! I am so thankful!
There is no way to tell my story from beginning to present. No one would read that blog… not even me. So, I just want share different stories and moments of revelations God has given me along the way.
I have come to the realization that depression looks differently on everyone. This makes sense because we are all different. Some have the Cymbalta commercial experience – in bed all day, dreary, sick, achy, never leave the house… just gloomy and gray – and there’s no judgement here for that! I have always hated those commercials though. My depression struggle was deep and dark but I could function through it. Most people would never know. But behind closed doors and alone my struggle emerged and inside I was those people on the commercial.
Anyway, in the lowest times, my ‘triggers’ (those things that would cause me to go from functional to very very dark) are not sad things but actually the opposite. A sunny day, my kids laughing, activities I used to enjoy.
We used to live in Ardsley Park in Savannah – a neighborhood I still think is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the country. One spring day, I was walking my son to the neighborhood park. It was April. There is seriously no where in the world more beautiful than Savannah, Georgia in the Spring. The azaleas were in full bloom. The colors were bright, it wasn’t insanely hot yet – I’m sure it was gorgeous. But through the lenses of my depression, all was gray. I was numb and cold. I remember walking along the road and while taking it all in, I realized there was something wrong with me. I used to love spring. I used to get a jolt of zeal in a circumstance like this. Instead, I was tired and just wanted to turn the stroller around and climb in bed. I was almost annoyed by the beauty.
Anyway, that was a side-story but hopefully it helped paint a picture of my struggle.
So fast forward about two years. We were living in a spacious apartment on the edge of Atlanta. I loved loved loved where we lived (God has really blessed us to live in some awesome areas… but I digress)! Our circumstances were pretty good but my depression was only deepening. It was like this a thick under current that would take me under as soon as I got on my feet again. By year three of this struggle, I was over it. There was a lot of good sprinkled in the former three years but this depression thing was not leaving. I had started believing the lie that my kids deserved a better (Happy!) mom and my husband deserved a better (not crazy screwed up) wife!
I was low. On this particular day, I was doing laundry. Outside the laundry room my kids were laughing and playing. They really are best friends. I could hear their sweet giggles. Instead of hearing them, smiling and going on with my laundry, dark feelings flooded my mind. I felt like I was in a prison with no door – just bars all around. If this nagging sadness was going to fill my life forever – then I just wanted out.
I sank down the laundry room wall, curled up in a ball and cried. My back was against the wall and my knees were drawn up under my chin. I put my head down and closed my eyes. Now, I’m baptist ya’ll but that day I saw a vision. With my eyes closed, I had weird like out of body experience (hang on… I know that just got weird). In my ‘vision’ I could see me crying in the laundry room but I wasn’t alone. I saw a clear vision of Jesus holding me. I was in the same position but His arms were wrapped all the way around me and His head was tucked close to mine.
I opened my eyes and peace flooded me in the laundry room that day. I realized this:
God is not mad at me for struggling with depression!
In fact, He is with me…. like really really with me – even though I can’t always feel it.
Now my “vision” is cool but I’ll back this up Biblically:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” Psalm 23:4
“I will give you treasures in the darkness And hidden wealth in the secret places, So that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.”
“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah” Psalm 32:7
“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9
Is it possible to struggle with depression and still have joy? In my opinion, with Christ, absolutely! In fact, I have experience more true Biblical joy in the past 5 years than before. Happiness? No. But happiness is fleeting and dependent on circumstances. In my lexicon “joy” ,as referenced in James 1:2, is defined as “to attain blessedness at the righthand of God”. Joy is the nearness of God.
I experienced joy on one of my darkest days of depression because I realized my God is with me. He is not angry at me. He is not waiting for me to “get over it” so we can move on with ministry. He is not annoyed by how long it is taking me to be “healed”.
On the contrary, He is with me and with you if you too struggle. He is holding you, even if you don’t feel Him. He is walking with you in to those dark places in your heart. He knows they are there. He is holding your hand as you discover feelings and hurt you never knew you had. He wants you to see Him in a way you never have before. He wants to give you the “treasures in the darkness” which is His light-Himself. He is patient and kind. When its time, He will lead you out of this. But don’t shortcut the journey. Just remain faithful to the Lord. Take joy, peace and contentment in knowing He is with you!
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven,You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold You are there. If I take wings of the dawn, I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely darkness will overwhelm me, And light around me will be night, Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.”