23Jan

This Thing Called Depression

It’s a beast guys. It’s debilitating. I have been diagnosed with chronic depression w/ bouts of major depression. It is a medical illness, and here are some of the symptoms:

-sadness or depressed mood, almost every day.
-loss of pleasure in things you once enjoyed.
-Major change in weight or appetite (for me this was an increase)
-Insomnia
-Physically restless or rundown
-Fatigue/loss of energy, almost every day
-Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or excessive guilt almost every day
-Problems with concentration or making decisions almost every day
-Recurring thoughts of death/suicide (I haven’t considered suicide, but this manifests in anxiety/panic attacks and other thoughts of death).

I suffer from every single one of these symptoms on a daily basis. The frustrating thing is that because a lot of these are based on “feelings,” people tend to think it’s not a real medical problem and is, instead, a heart problem. A sin problem.

I recently had an online discussion with a fellow Christian blogger. She had shared this quote on her facebook, along with some thoughts of her own affirming that depression is truly a sin problem.

Years of counseling with people who are chronically unhappy, depressed, frustrated, and emotionally unstable have convinced me that these “disorders” often stem from an unthankful heart, regardless of any external circumstances that may appear to provide an explanation. Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Sadly, this sums up what most of Christians think about the matter. That depression and other “supposed disorders” are simply caused by a bad attitude, an ungrateful heart, a sin problem. I’ve seen other Christian bloggers claim that depression is rooted in a person being greedy and always wanting more and better possessions or status. Despite medical evidence to the contrary, there is still a tendency to say that a person with depression is at fault.

It deeply saddens me to see this attitude expressed.

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, please give them a little support. A word of encouragement, a word of kindness.

I remember a couple years ago when I was going through a particularly hard time. I have a friend who doesn’t necessarily understand this depression stuff, but she has enough compassion to care anyway. She and another friend showed up at my door with a pizza for lunch and a bag of Dove chocolates. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. Even if it was just a short reprieve, it reminded me that someone cared.

According to the CDC website, in the year 2010, there were more than 38,000 suicide deaths in the US. There were more than 630,000 emergency department visits for self-inflicted injury.

Depression is a serious problem. It is a real thing. People suffering from it need your prayers, your kindness, your support. Not your judgments.

 

20Dec

Moments of Lucidity

A few weeks ago, when I found out that I failed a portion of my exam, this was the phrase used to describe it:

Crystal addresses the question directly, and there are moments of lucidity in the essay. But, overall, the essay fails to meet minimum expectations.

(Don’t worry…I retook the failed portion, and graduated with my masters degree last Saturday!)

But as I read, the phrase stuck in my mind. And it occurred to me how appropriate it is to my life.

Through my struggles with depression, I feel that “moments of lucidity,” sums it up nicely.  Most of the time, I am sad. I feel empty. There is a black cloud chasing me around. I have no energy. I have nothing good to say about myself.

But there are moments. Precious few. Moments when the world makes sense. When I can feel the joy of my life, and I live for those moments. When I have the gift of motivation and productivity, and serving my family, and serving God.

And while I regret the fact that my depression robs me of my life, most of all I regret the fact that my two boys have to live with a mother who is sick. They had no choice.  And all I can do is pray that those moments are enough. There are so many bad moments. Mood swings; sadness; raised voices; lack of patience; lack of energy; lack of will and desire to do anything.

I pray that the good moments, few as they may be sometimes, will overshadow the bad ones. That the times of playing together, baking cookies, reading…will be enough. Enough for my boys to have more happy memories than bad ones. Enough for them to know that I love them fiercely, that I tried.

God, I pray that you will help me to overcome this.  That you will help me live the abundant life that you promised.  I pray that my family would not suffer from my failures, and that my boys will know how much I love them through it all.

08Oct

The One Where I Come Clean…

Photo Credit

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know that I’m very much a proponent of authenticity.  I believe being real is the way to encourage one another, and share hope.  But, in many ways I’ve been a fraud.  The very title of my blog is a lie.

Serving Joyfully.

It’s my desire, but not my truth.

Because the truth is, I suffer from an invisible illness.  I’ve made reference to it a few times, but mostly it’s a topic I’ve shied away from.  Because I don’t know what to say.  I don’t know how to put words to paper.

So I waited.

I waited for my healing.  Waited for the time when I could talk about this thing called depression from the other side—the victory side.  Life is so much sweeter on the other side, and that’s what I wanted to share.  Not the darkness.  Because it’s hard.  It’s uncertain.  There are days when I forget that there is any other place besides here, in the senseless sadness.

So I waited.

This illness is so misunderstood, with harsh judgments.  There are misconceptions and so much shame.  I internalized the idea that this sickness is a sin that must be repented, overcome and in the past before I could bring it into the light. But it isn’t.  Depression is not a sin, because it’s not a choice:  it’s an illness.

So, I waited.

I waited for the other side.  I didn’t want to share from this side.  The defeated side. The one swallowed in darkness.

But it’s where I am.

So here’s the truth:  I suffer from depression, anxiety, which have led to an eating disorder.  In many ways, I feel that depression is an attack of Satan, just as could be argued for any sickness.  Jesus said the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and that’s what depression does.

It takes every ounce of my energy every day not to let this illness win.  And sometimes I still feel like I’m losing.

You may remember that I don’t have health insurance.  For this reason, treatment hasn’t been an option for me. But even if it were, I’ve watched my dad struggle with depression my entire life, despite treatment.  There is no cure all, until God fulfills the promise He spoke into my life for healing.

I don’t know why depression has to be a part of my story, but I want to use it to His glory.  So, I’ve been waiting, praying for God to show me how and when to share.  Tonight, I sat down to write up a recipe, but this is what came pouring out.  I pray that you will look past the misconceptions, past everything you’ve ever heard or believed about depression (that it isn’t real, that it’s a sin, that it’s a sign of weakness, that it’s selfishness, that it’s just an excuse), and see the heart.  Not just for me, but for thousands of other people who are suffering from a very real illness.

I strongly prefer natural remedies, so if you have any info on non-medicinal remedies for depression, I would love for you to share!

01Jun

Search My Heart: A Broken Wife

 

How Depression affects family

Photo Credit

 

This post was written with tears, and it’s hard to share.  I promised myself (and the Lord) that I would follow His leading, and be real on my blog, even when it’s uncomfortable or embarrassing.

Have you ever seen a truly horrible picture of yourself?  Maybe it’s a yearbook picture, or that time when you had the awful perm or dye job.  Maybe it’s when you’re already overweight, and the camera adds 10 about 25 extra pounds.  It could be an awkward pose or a strange expression on your face.  But whatever the reason, you want to hide that picture away and make sure that no one ever sees it.

This weekend, I saw a really bad picture of myself, deeper than any camera could portray. 

You see, as I have struggled with depression, my family has suffered along with me because their wife and mommy wasn’t really here.  As I have fought this illness (because that’s what depression is—it’s not a sin or a choice, it’s an illness.), my husband and my precious boys have had to suffer as well.

It started out as an innocent conversation about dessert while we were headed home from an outing.  I told the boys I would make them a fruit and yogurt parfait.  Chad said he might have one too, with crushed graham crackers on top.  I told him I usually put some grape nuts on their yogurt (the grape nuts that Chad thought he remembered liking, but once we got them, he didn’t).  And, that conversation was over. 

Or so I thought.  Fast forward a few minutes as we get closer to our driveway, and the conversation goes something like this:

Chad, clearly distressed:  You’re going to be so mad at me.
Me:  What is it, honey?
Chad:  I don’t even want to tell you, because we’re having such a good day and I don’t want to ruin it.
Me:  Honey, I don’t think I’m going to be mad, just tell me.
Chad (sighing):  You are going to be mad.  But it’ll probably be better if I just tell you instead of you finding out in there.

Okay, at this point I was kind of freaking out…what in the world was my husband so scared to tell me?  Finally, I said, “Honey, just spit it out.  I won’t be mad and it won’t ruin our day.”

There was a moment of silence and then he took a deep breath, “I threw away the box of grape nuts.”  Once the words were out, he hurried into an explanation, “We weren’t eating it and it was expired anyway, so I threw it away.”

All I could do was stare at him, speechless.  That’s it.  He threw away the box of grape nuts.

What kind of wife am I that my husband was so afraid of my reaction over a box of expired grape nuts cereal?  (rhetorical question, please don’t answer!)

As God has lifted the fog that is depression, He has renewed my desire to serve Him in all things, including being a more godly wife to my husband.  To submit to him and respect him in the way that he deserves.  I know that I have a long way to go. 

 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
-Psalm 139:23-24

This has been my prayer lately.  I long to be intimate with God, closer to Him than I have been before.  Closer to the woman He is calling me to be.  But sometimes that requires Him showing me a “wicked way”, and it’s not pretty.  But even in the midst of the pain of facing the woman I had become, His hand is gently leading me. 

It is worth the pain of chastisement to be led by the Almighty God.  It is worth the disappointment in myself to rise above my shortcomings, through Him.  It is worth seeing the ugly truth in order to become the godly wife my husband deserves, and more importantly, the woman my Savior deserves for me to be. 

Jesus gave His all for me, and he deserves nothing less than all of me, given up to Him and His purpose.

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