Dear precious readers and friends, I am finally brave enough to share my story with you as you have shared yours with me. As many of you know, my dear mother passed away recently and the grief has hit me hard these past few weeks. However, this isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety. I watched my mother suffer with depression throughout her life, and it was always a disease that I never wanted to have. But there is a strong genetic factor in depression, and it has had a major impact on my life, as it has had on others in Mom’s family. For a long time, I thought if I looked good and tried hard, people wouldn’t know. I was so concerned about what others would think. It was exhausting. Although it’s gotten better for society as a whole, there is still a stigma attached to depression, and so many still view it as a weakness that you should be able to conquer instead of the disease that it is.
Actually, my struggle with depression led me to this blog. You see, back 18 months ago, the extreme depression and anxiety manifested in severe panic attacks that were out of control. It took a long time to find a medicine that worked. For some unknown reason, I didn’t respond to typical medications, and this made my case even more difficult. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard from doctors, “You are just wired differently!” Very frustrating to hear. At that time, I truly felt like humpty dumpty, a broken and hopeless person.
While medicine did help, and I believe in the value of medicine, the biggest change came when I started therapy with a wonderful psychologist who taught me Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Once I learned how to control negative thoughts and replace them with helpful, rational thoughts, I had a newfound power. Recently, I returned to my counselor as I need some additional help right now. It is the combination of medicine and therapy that has made a difference.
My wise and inspirational daughter, Laura, said, “Life isn’t ever a straight line, Mom. You have to expect and work with the ups and downs.” I am truly blessed with a very supportive family, so many dear friends, and this blog. But I wonder if I would have gotten to this place without the struggles. I used to be angry with God for giving me this disease, but now I believe there was a purpose. It has made me much more empathetic to people who suffer from depression and other difficulties. I have learned so much from you, brave souls, who have shared your heartfelt stories with me on my blog.
The book that has helped me the most is Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. When I was so sick, this quotation truly spoke to me. “Trust me and don’t be afraid for I am your strength and song. Do not let fear dissipate your energy. Instead, invest your energy in trusting Me and singing My song. The battle for control of your mind is fierce, and years of worry have made you vulnerable to the enemy. You are not alone in this struggle for your mind. My spirit living within you is ever ready to help in this striving. Ask Him to control your mind. He will bless you with life and peace.” 1
One of my friends said, “God is blessing you so you can bless others.” I hope my blog, which has become my mission, has done just that. I am so grateful to God for the stories I’ve received and the words He has put in my mind. Like all chronic diseases, depression will always be there, but now I have tools to deal with it. I am no longer like Humpty Dumpty – God has turned my brokenness into wholeness.
What has Helped:
- Starting my day with a devotional and quiet time with the Lord.
- My supportive family, especially my husband, Milo, who cared for me during that difficult period.
- My son, Ryan, made a tape to help me slow down my breathing during a panic attack.
- My incredible friends and the amazing women in my Bible Study.
- Therapy! Go, no matter what the cost – nothing is more expensive than the time you spend in misery.
- Make a list of things that make you feel better so you have it ready when you start slipping. It can be going to a movie, being with friends – whatever works for you, because everyone is different. Don’t feel obligated to spend your time on things that don’t help.
- EXERCISE – even if it is just 10 minutes of walking. My favorite exercise is swimming as it is very relaxing to me.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Jeremiah 1:9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth.”
Heavenly Father, even though there are times when we think you have abandoned us, you never do. You are there in our darkest moments. Please give us Your peace and hope during our periods of suffering and despair. Sometimes our biggest struggles turn into blessings. Help us to switch our focus from our problems to Your presence. As we stay close to You, our brokenness will turn into wholeness so that we can bless You and bless others.
1 Young, Sarah (2004). Jesus Calling. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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