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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

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    Monday
    Apr082013

    My Battle with Depression  

    Disclaimer: This is my story. I am not trying to insinuate anything or make claims beyond my personal experiences. This is not a philosophical or theological treatise. This is my story. Take it for what it's worth.

     

    In light of the tragic death of Matt Warren, Pastor Rick Warren's (of Saddleback Church in CA) son, there has been a lot of talk about depression and mental illness on the net. Pastor Warren linked the two in an official statement to his church stating,

    "...But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided."

    (http://www.christianpost.com/news/rick-warrens-son-dies-matthew-warrens-death-sparks-outpouring-of-prayers-from-christians-leaders-93392/).

     

    I protest. I have had personal battles with depression and one deep episode that nearly led to suicide. My parents have also battled depression. Maybe this is just my opinion, but I seriously dislike depression being classified as a "mental illness". Maybe I think it sounds too much like giving in, or maybe I just don't want to be stigmatized as mentally ill. Some people are mentally ill, and born that way, but I have a hard time believing depression is something a person is born with.

     

    I believe depression has some to do with the way a person thinks (perhaps highly analytical people are more prone to it?), and a lot to do with a person's environment. My episodes come when I've been secluded from friends and family (although, sometimes I feel lonelier after having a great time with people), when the weather is not conducive to being outdoors, when I've been stuck doing the same thing over and over (a rut) with little to no variation, when I don't get good sleep, and especially when I'm in pain. These are enough to drive anyone up a wall, but these are all environmental factors.

     

    My worst episode came a few years ago when I was due for a (second) hernia surgery that had to wait for other medical reasons. I waited five months, in excruciating pain that rarely let up. I was on prescription pain meds that helped some, but never took the pain away completely and caused insomnia.

     

    I couldn't ride in a car without being in pain or feeling nauseous, I couldn't lie down comfortably, I couldn't sit up comfortably, I could barely stand to do dishes. I was stuck in bed with the knowledge I was due not only for a repeat hernia surgery, but another major abdominal surgery as well (as it turned out, I had two hernias, so I really had three abdominal surgeries at once).

     

    It drove me nuts to be like that all the time. I decorated my room with house plants, which actually helped more than I thought it would. I wrote a  LOT and read a lot and learned a lot. But the thought that I was being such a burden on my family, emotionally, physically, and financially, ate away at me.

     

    I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had no hope I would ever get better, despite assurances from family. I tried pushing myself to "get over it" and caused further injury to myself, landing me in the ER. More bills. Bills (I thought) we would never pay off. By worrying so much about the future, I freaked myself out until one day "I knew" what I had to do to help my family.

     

    It was like Satan was whispering to me and I knew it. I knew it was wrong, but I was so tired, so worried, and in so much constant pain. I began listening to the voice, and day by day my plan came slowly together. There was the voice of reason also, telling me all the logical things about my decision. But the other voice sounded better. Leaving it all, stopping the pain (after all, even once I had and healed from these current surgeries, there would eventually be more pain), stopping the constant drain of money from my children's mouths (at least, that's how I thought about it), leaving my spouse free to find someone with a stronger and healthier disposition.

     

    I never told anybody, never hinted at it because I didn't want them to worry. But somehow my spouse knew. They could sense it, maybe. They told me all the logical things I didn't want to hear. They told me how much they would miss me and how it was wrong to leave the kids. I was stony faced. No one was supposed to know.

     

    One hot summer day, I took myself to our tiny backyard. It felt then like a prison or an asylum garden, with a privacy fence blocking me from the rest of the world, but at least it was quiet and outside. I sat in the grass and cried (again). I had my plan. I had no hope. I was truly and utterly miserable. I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place with wolves hunting me down on all sides. I didn't want to leave my children. I didn't want to leave me spouse or hurt my family. But I didn't see any other way out. My spouse knew again, and came to talk to me. But I didn't want to talk. I was so tired.

     

    They went back inside, and I sat and sobbed until I was out of tears. I really was not in my right mind, but who could be after all I had been through? It was then, God spoke to me. He simply asked, "Are you still Mine?" It was a valid question. If I considered myself a Christian, I was a bond servant (a slave) as well as a child of God. If not, I could do whatever I wanted. Would I obey God, or my own desire?

     

    I meekly answered with many tears, "I am yours, Lord". He answered, "then don't do this thing".  Many more tears and many more prayers went by before I went back inside.

     

    I can't say that I never thought about "my plan" again, but things slowly did get better. I had my surgeries and felt so much better after the first day, the hospital staff were amazed. It took over a year to fully heal and I am still gradually building my strength back. The hospital bills are almost gone, and I have a new little one. The stuff I learned and read about have influenced much of my writing, and generally life is good. I still have moments and episodes of depression; sometimes I mentally toy with my old plan. But God's words always come back to me, "Are you still Mine?" That is one thing I am steadfast in.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    It is so hard to stay out of "the funk"! (That's what I call depression in order to cloudy my loved ones' judgement so they won't try to dig info out of me.) But where does the funk come from? Lies. Satan's lies to be exact. "You're not good enough; No one REALLY likes you or wants you around; Money is important; Does God really forgive you for those deplorable acts you committed?" These thoughts start swirling around in my head and all of a sudden, I realize that I'm drowning. But it's too late- I can't pull myself out of it. I try and try. Adding and subtracting people, things, and activities out of my life but oops! I forgot! I can't fix me. Only God can fix me. It's so hard to remember that. Most of the time I remember only when I hit the bottom. When everything is exploding around me, that's when I start to see him. That's when I start to remember all of the awesome works that he's done in and around me. Amongst the dramatics of my life, the depressions, and the mistakes, He is faithful in working in me. And God, my God, who knows the number of hairs on my head, knows how the desire of knowing the why's and how's of everything eats me alive. So He is most often faithful in showing me a small glimpse of the why. Praise God for making me who I am. Putting me where I am. Allowing me to feel the way that I feel. -And pulling me out when I've had enough, to move me where I need to be, and change me into the person I desire to be.

    April 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJami

    Thank you for sharing, Jami.

    April 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterA Christian

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