The separation I felt from God didn’t come from Him. He continued to love me, show me incredible mercy and lead me to healing. I had friends who showed nothing but compassion and love. My pastor was so supportive and connected at this time, making sure I knew my worth and God’s love. I have an amazing husband who simply chose to walk with me through this journey, holding me up those times I couldn’t stand alone.
I know that everyone doesn’t have this experience in their time of darkness. There are often people who think you should just be able to get over it, even in the church. Oh, there was the occasional comment about I needed to trust more or spend more time alone with God, but that was not typical of my story. I was included in a conversation with a pastor who didn’t know about my depression. He told a group of us that if we are right with God we wouldn’t have to worry about things like anxiety and depression. The answer was pretty easy, don’t sin. It is difficult to hear those things when you are smack dab in the middle depression.
Let’s face it our society and even the church don’t really talk enough about mental illness. I do believe we are making progress, but anxiety and depression and other mental diseases are still not mainstream in our wellness dialogue. I think there is still more opportunity for the church to reach out and give people living in the hopelessness of mental illness support.
I am thankful to attend a church that doesn’t balk at mental illness. But I think even we could be better educated to help those going through it. And perhaps a sermon series or a study on how we can better relate to those walking through the trenches of anxiety, depression or bi-polar disease would be beneficial. Anytime we have a conversation, show support or even ask a question we are moving towards a church that is growing to serve even more people walking in the darkness of anxiety and depression.
For me, this season was mental and spiritual. I’ve had a dream of writing since I was 11 years old. Although I have done some writing it was just an occasional devotion or articles, they were not the end goal. I always said I would get to the “real” writing . . . someday. I could feel God gently prodding me to start this ministry, but I still had a million reasons why it had to wait just a bit longer.
The day finally came that I started making a concerted effort to write daily. I was doing research and studying my craft which included going to the writing conference. My someday had come.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:11
I don’t think that it is coincidence that when I finally got serious about this ministry God had placed on my heart that I also faced anxiety and depression. Satan had watched gleefully from afar as I found ways to put off my dream of writing. I can just imagine his confident, knowing smile every time I found yet another excuse to put it off. Then the day came that I made the commitment to really work toward this goal, the day I became obedient to God in this ministry and I like to think I was intimidating him just a little with the action to back up those goals.
Now the enemy was forced to get creative, so he used all of my weaknesses against me. My tendency to busyness, my exhaustion and that little voice in my head that said, why in the world do you think you could write?
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
I wasn’t alert at first, but I got there. When I couldn’t feel God’s presence I praised Him and worshiped Him anyway. When I felt farthest away from God, and wasn’t even reading my bible, I was quoting Psalm 34:4 over and over at night. And I worked with my doctor, who prescribed medication to overcome whatever was happening in my brain. I might not have been able to put the full armor of God on at that time, but I was able to put on enough to get me through that season.
10 weeks, 2 ½ months, a season, really just a blink of an eye in the big scheme of things.
10 weeks of darkness, fear, emptiness, hopelessness, a season that seemed like forever.
It felt so long as I lived it, like it would never end. But really it was a very short time. I know how blessed I am to have gotten to the other side and so quickly too. I now know the joy of overcoming the darkness and seeing all those slivers of light He offered me along the way.
So I don’t know for sure why this happened, and probably never will; I do know what came after. A closer walk with Jesus. A complete hunger for God’s word that is so big I can’t wait to dive into it every day. And an incredible desire to be a support to others that dance with that ugly darkness.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to talk to so many others that are currently walking this journey. Before the depression I wouldn’t have had the same empathy and experience to share and encourage others going through a difficult season.
I was in line at Wal Mart the other day and the young man at the check-out shared with me how anxious he was when the line had been longer. Some people might ask why a young man would share his anxiety with a grandma buying sparkle paint, but I don’t. I had a divine appointment and was given the opening to talk to that young man about his anxiety. God has a plan and this is just one of the many beautifuls that came from the ashes of my illness.
As I’ve recovered I’ve learned that there were several tangible changes I needed to make. I learned to put my computer away at 9 pm, regardless of what I’m doing. That gives my brain a chance to rest before bed. I also got some blue blocker glasses because there was some concern that my nook reading at bedtime was keeping me awake too. I’ve had several follow up visits with my doctor just to make sure I am staying on course. She did recommend counseling for me early on, but I didn’t feel like I needed it. I wasn’t opposed to it, but the medication did the job on its own. And I am still open to it if I need it down the road.
I found a plan that worked for me. If you are struggling with darkness, loneliness, hopelessness or any other symptoms of depression you are not alone. There is hope and I am living proof of that. A call to your physician or counselor is the first step to finding a plan that works for you. Remember the sooner you call the sooner you can find a plan that works for you.
Far too often mental illness is a silent disease. I think that’s what the enemy wants. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone. I found a solid plan that helped me, yours will look different, but there is one out there just for you if you are just willing to make that first phone call.
If you live near Logan County here are some numbers to consider calling:
Community Health and Wellness Partners – 937-599-1411, they have offices in West Liberty, Bellefontaine and Indian Lake
Consolidated Care – 937-599-1975 daily, 1-800-224-0422 crisis hotline
Light the Way Christian Counseling - 937-593-9600