I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. It has never been debilitating but it is a constant companion that I wish I could just will away. I have always felt that things like grief, rejection, and disappointments were obstacles rather than occurrences to move on from. With each death I experience I feel like I succumb more to depression. It’s like I had to become friends with death to learn how to live.
I noticed my depression symptoms at an early age. My father died when I was three months old; my mom had a nervous breakdown and was gone for six months – all this trauma during a crucial period of my early development.
By the age of five, I was sent to a boarding school. My siblings were there as well, but we were intentionally separated, so that we would depend on the school and not each other. At school, I learned about and accepted Christ at a young age, but I had no idea how to live with Him in my life.
Eventually, my brothers and sisters left or graduated, and soon I was by myself. At school, I never felt good enough; years later I realized I experienced oppression, being in the minority for all of those years at school.
I also grieved for the absence of family in my life, which I believe was the catalyst for my depression. When I did go home for holidays or breaks, I felt like an outsider. I was alone and desired a family connection. No one wanted me and wanted to be with me, so why was I here on Earth?
The loneliness and separation led to anger at not feeling the love from the important people in my life. I hated the way I felt. I didn’t want to feel that way but didn’t know how to make it stop. As I grew older, boyfriend after boyfriend rejected me because I wouldn’t give up my virginity. The feeling that I wasn’t worth waiting for led to self-harm and a life of promiscuity.
Soon there was a war inside of me and by my junior year in high school, I didn’t want to live anymore. I had one very good friend at school, and I wrote her a letter explaining why I was going to take my life and thanked her for her friendship. I went on to explain I didn’t feel like I had a reason to live. I took pills, turned on music, and the next thing I remember is waking up to my friend who had read my note and was screaming, crying, and praying over me. It was the first time I realized that someone cared for me and that taking my life would cause them pain.
I graduated from high school, but my destructive behavior didn’t change. My first two years in college were pretty horrible, as I put myself in dangerous and awful situations, as I didn’t care if I lived or died. After leaving college, I began to see a therapist but did not receive the treatment I needed.
Soon after I started dating a wonderful man named Al, I remember wanting to end my life again. I called Al and told him to meet me right away, or that I was going to drive into a tree. When he got there, Al pulled out his Bible and began ministering to me and praying for me. He had the whole armor of God on and was fighting me, which began to teach me how to fight for myself spiritually. Al gave me a different perspective on my situation; he introduced prayer into the equation and called on the name of Jesus to help me. Al and I later married and started a family.
I knew of God but had not yet established a personal relationship with Him. As I continued living, I exhibited behaviors of self-harm, and neglected people and places, ate certain things that weren’t good for me, wouldn’t take my medication, or didn’t take care of myself because the pain of living hurt so bad.
Grief and loss continued in my life. During a four-year period, I lost nine loved ones, including my son to cancer. I felt like I was done with life and argued with God as to why I was still here. Every day I’m in pain as I live my life. I look for the good in the world, but it just seems like the pain from the bad is overwhelming.
My sadness is so deep that I can’t reach it. There’s nothing I can do with this sadness. Every day I have to give it to God. Every day that He wakes me up, I know He has a purpose for me, and I try to find happiness, purpose, and a reason for living in that day. My personal relationship with God is what is keeping me alive. I know He has me.
I never thought I had enough strength to speak to my pain, so I prayed for Jesus to speak to it. Loss and trauma are triggers for depressive episodes, but depression symptoms can surface without triggers as well. Praying and speaking the Word of God made such a positive impact on my life.
Since life is so fragile for me, if there are people in my life who are not healthy for me, I have to cut them out or allow God to remove them. I can’t allow others to compromise my emotional balance, as it is so delicate.
This starts with self-awareness – I can tell the safe spaces and people versus the unsafe and unhealthy people. I am very much aware of my surroundings. I continue to allow God to be the gatekeeper of my peace. I had to stop opening the gate for people He was removing from my life, including family. My relationship is really intimate with God now; it’s about me getting to know Him more, instead of just always crying out for His help. When I’m in my grief, I try not to push it away, but process it instead, and allow God to comfort me through His peace.
After becoming a teacher, I also became a counselor and realized how to find my own peace. My story drives me as an educator and also shapes the way I approach therapy in working with youth. I strive to helpyouth to find their voice and take control over their lives and choices. I also want them to understand the decisions they make will affect them for the rest of their lives. Accountability for choices must be learned at a young age, despite any difficult life experiences. We can’t choose the life we are born into, but we can choose how we respond to it.
I chose not to medicate, as I didn’t believe I was clinically depressed. I didn’t feel like I had a physical imbalance, but there was work I had to do to deal with my situational depression, along with the things that happened to me. I have been treated by a therapist, I am a therapist, and work to promote the normalization of therapy.
I do struggle with comfort eating at times, as anything done in excess can be considered an unhealthy coping mechanism for not dealing with the negative feelings and thoughts that can occur at any given time.
Now, I am living my life, and not just surviving death – that is no longer an option for me. The unconditional love we desire in life only comes through Jesus Christ. No matter what I do, He will always love me. Depression is still my companion, but its voice is muffled, and it’s no longer a threat. Christ speaks for me and fights this battle for my soul.
Encouragement for Moms:
I have learned to give up and give in, to let go and let God. Remind those who pray for you that when you get quiet and shut yourself away that God is truly working in you. He is fighting a battle to save you one more time. Surround yourself with those who love you unconditionally, because you may not be able to love them back the same way. Don’t let depression dictate your life. Give in when necessary to both life and death. Let the battle rage knowing who the victor is. I have never taken medicine for my depression, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Get a therapist, talk to the doctor, or do whatever it takes to claim your life from depression. What works for some doesn’t work for all.
Prayer for Moms:
Lord God, please bring rest and understanding to us all. Guide us and lead us to the place of peace and restoration. Just know that we are leaning on you. We give in to your glory and grace. We thank you for the miracle of life in the face of death. We thank you for letting us see your mercies anew each day. The battle is yours and we give it all to you. Thank you.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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