I’m not entirely sure where to begin so I’ll just start here.
I have depression.
And, yes, I am now on medication for my depression.
This may cause some of you to gasp, pull-away, frown, and shake your head. While there will be others who nod, understand, and sigh knowing the scope of the fall of the human body and mind.
Still there may be others whose eyes widen and throats catch because you know the feelings yourself. You know this is you or has been you. Maybe you’ve not had the courage to talk about it. It scares you – rightfully so – but it forces you to draw the blinds of your heart and turn the lock on yourself for fear of what others will think.
I’m not sure to which group I am talking. As a writer, I am taught to “know your audience.” But I think that’s dumb. At this point I’m just writing because it’s something I know how to do. I am a writer and so I write. I am writing for me.This means I write about everything. Even my companion, depression.
I shared with a friend recently how scary that word is, “depression.” It carries with it so much weight much like “cancer;” however, with cancer people don’t typically blame you for it or tell you to pray it away.
The word “depression” conjurs up lots of opinions and feelings among so many, particularly those of us in the church. And, unfortunately, the church has a reputation of shaming, pushing it away, over spiritualizing it, and labeling it as sin or lack of faith.
Surprisingly, my depression would have likely gone undiagnosed for a long time had it not been for the faithful visits of depression’s closest friend, anxiety. Anxiety and I got pretty close there for a few of weeks. She’d visit me in the car, nearly every morning, definitely every night, at the gym, even one unfortunate evening on a date in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. Darn it if that girl isn’t persistent.
It wasn’t until nearly four months in to my depression when I sat down with a really good doctor and was able to see how all this had progressed, where it had come from (sort of), and what to do about it.
I am not a depressed person by nature, nor am I typically anxious. Of all the things I could have feared manifesting in my future, depression and anxiety were not any of them. And yet here I am in the absolute hardest season of my life to date.
The depression started slowly, sneakily in January and crept up until I was nearly debilitated by it many days. This stirred up anxiety because I am a mom of three little girls with a lot on my plate who suddenly had no energy or motivation to do any of the things on that plate. The racing thoughts of “how am I going to do this?” and “what is happening to me?” and, my personal favorite, “where is the old Amy?” brought with them panic attacks, vomiting, and physical pain.
I thought I was dying. Let me say that again.
I thought I was dying.
Now, today, I sit knowing I am going to be okay… even if I’m not okay… I’m going to be okay.
I’ve been to counseling, both Biblical and secular. I am continuing to meet with trusted mentors and pastors. I have a great psychiatrist who I trust and who has introduced me a recovery regimen that is working. I have friends who, literally, kept me alive. They brought food, forced me to eat, wiped my face, picked up my kids, rubbed my feet (my feet!), pushed me out the door for walks, put my kids to bed, prayed over me, read scripture, sent gifts, called, texted, and visited. Most importantly, they shared. They shared their stories of depression, anxiety, and living a life of hope and daily surrender to Christ. I was never alone. Never!
But it was quite a journey to get here. And there is still quite a journey ahead.
And here, again, I sit writing. Not really knowing what I’m trying to say or why. But I just feel like someone needs to hear this. Someone needs to know that you’re not alone and that there is help.
Also, someone else needs to know that your story matters. You haven’t lived with depression or anxiety for no reason. God doesn’t waste anything. Share your story.
And finally, there is someone who needs to know that this even happens to those “good” Christian girls who seem to have it all together. It is real. It is a real reflection of broken bodies in a broken world – as a mentor of mine puts it “we are embodied souls.”
While I am redeemed, I will not be made whole until I see my Savior face to face. And, because of this, there will be struggles, there will be suffering, there will be nights of the valley of the shadow of death.
But even so, even if…
Joy comes in the morning, not because of the greatness of my faith but because of the greatness of the One in whom my faith lies. And I am choosing to trust that Christ, who began a good work in me, will see His work completed.
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