Depression is a word that is tossed around a lot. It is misunderstood. It is misconstrued. And my point of view on depression was the same way.
Until the day that I too became a mental health sufferer. It was not until that day that I knew the pain, the despair, and the uncertainty that comes with this chemical imbalance.
My first thought when I was diagnosed and in counseling was this cannot be happening to me. Once I finally accepted, I was embarrassed. How did I get here? I have a strong faith, a loving husband, five beautiful children. My husband has a great job which allows me to stay home and homeschool our children. I. Love. My. Life.
So how did I end up suffering from depression? Here is where a once size fits all response just will not suffice.
Doctors told me it was the perfect storm. GI issues, hormone crashes, adrenal fatigue, and just too many years of going a little too hard. Five babies in seven years will take a toll on your body and mind. I realized the importance of taking care of myself a little too late. My journey with depression had started, and I just wanted to wake up from this nightmare.
The depression forced me to rest. It forced me to reflect. It forced me to cry out to Jesus. And it was in these moments of tears, despair, fear, and anger that I saw the growth. When Jesus was all I had, Jesus was all I needed.
The spiritual growth started small and grew immeasurably as my faith was tested further.
My biggest fear is that I will leave my children behind. I am not afraid to die. I know I am saved. I am a strong believer in heaven. But I do not want to leave my children for someone else to take care of. This fear caused me to be terrified of hospitals, doctors, and surgery. I never had to have surgery and have always been healthy. What was this fear? That I would not wake up and be able to take care of my children.
Do you know what I have seen God do time and time again with my fears? He makes me face them head on. He puts the situation in front of me that I cannot get around until my fears are faced. But He does not make me does this on my own. He is right beside me, guiding me, holding me, and keeping me moving forward.
So right dab smack in the middle of my depression, I had to undergo emergency gallbladder surgery. I spent three days in the hospital in a stunned sense of “My biggest fear is being challenged.” I had to wait several days for the antibiotics to take effect and certain blood work numbers to be right. Not only was I struggling with depression, but my husband plays in the NFL and a Thursday Night Football home game was the night before my surgery.
A dear friend never left my side so I would not have to be alone. She stayed, she cried with me, she talked with me, and most importantly, she just let me know that I was not alone.
Fast forward five months, a removed gallbladder, a new Paleo diet, and everything has turned around. My biggest fear was the surgery, and it ended up being the first step in my recovery.
Sometimes facing fear is exactly what we need. In fact, I had to undergo one more procedure two months after my first one. And I did it with confidence. In the middle of football season, in the middle of life happening all around me, I survived the hardest time of my life.
Depression will look different for everyone. And on the outside looking in, it can be impossible to discern.
My biggest piece of advice would be to recognize that you can not feel what the other person is feeling and be as compassionate for them as humanly possible. Until you are there, you just cannot understand. The dark thoughts, the tunnel with no light, the empty feeling of thinking there is no way out. It is real. It is a chemical imbalance. But there is hope.
There is hope when you cling to Jesus. There is hope when you reach for another day.
Come join me on this journey.