Last year at around this time, I was sitting in a mental hospital because the anti-depressant medication I was taking had an adverse reaction (side effects: psychosis and well, you can guess). Rewind and you will find out I started suffering from depression and anxiety attacks a few months earlier after my father died suddenly in a car crash. You will also discover that it was greatly affecting my ability to study, so I had to leave college.
The hospital was my rock bottom. I was ashamed. I couldn't believe I was there... with those people. I wasn't them. Rewind to the week before my dad passed. I was on the dean's list. I was taking 21 credits and kicking butt. I was on the fast track to graduate the following semester, and I had a fiance I was going to marry after we graduated.
There I was coloring and watching Tarzan with other drowsy and drugged adults. I was being surveilled. The patients had all developed a sense of comradery, and I became a part of that for that week. Rewind to the night I was admitted, to the night my fiance held me and cried. He told me he was proud of me and reassured me that I was doing the right thing. I was so aware in that moment of the hurt that I had caused him and my family.
I remember hearing a girl scream as she attempted to harm herself. I remember the nurses running to her aid, and I remember when she was transferred to a more intensive care unit.
Rewind. Rewind. Rewind!
This incident and week became one of my best kept secrets. I remember checking my phone when I left and being angered by the lack of texts from any of my friends. I only had one friend who let me know how annoyed she was that I didn't respond. I remember constantly thinking, "If they only knew." But the fact was they didn't... many are finding out right now. My intention of this blog was not to heap guilt on anyone, but rather to alleviate the burden of this secret. Last night, the pastor preached about transparency in the light of God. When we are in His light, we need not be ashamed. He has completed His forgiveness in us. We are to live in freedom.
What many don't understand is how one can be a Christian and still deal with depression. "Don't you understand that the joy of the Lord is your strength?" Because it is a tough subject for many to grapple with, the church has made depression a taboo subject-- or worse, simply a demonic oppression. Here are some Bible characters I believed had depression: Job & David. Job managed to continue to follow God although he was very evidently depressed and struggling with why God would allow such things. David was a man after God's own heart, yet a third of the psalms seem to say, "woe is me" and "where are you God?" God knew that as a result of a traumatic situation I would become overwhelmed and overcome by grief. God knew that the trauma would result in a lack of production of serotonin in my brain. God knew that like Job, I would not leave the fold, but I would struggle and I would feel sorry for myself. God knew that like David, I would feel very estranged at times.
It has now been a year since my hospitalization. For the most part, I have consistently been doing better. I am no longer on medication, but that wasn't easy. I have now transferred to specific vitamins, exercise and healthy living, in hopes that I will continue to keep depression at bay. I am so thankful that I am doing markedly better on my journey... but sadly, I doubt everyone who spent with that week last year is. Depression robs our world of so many beautiful people. It robs some of their physical lives but others of their happiness and livelihood. Most who suffer through depression suffer silently.
To the sufferer: you are not alone. There are so many of us who have been where you are. Start talking to someone you trust. & remember God wants to walk out this journey with you. He wants to ease the load.
To the Christian who doesn't know how to handle depression: there are people all around you who need your comfort, compassion and help. If it makes you uncomfortable because cannot relate, deal with it. Christ did not come to this world to make the happy happier.
Rewind to who I was before all of this and you will find a girl whose faith had only lightly been tested, who didn't know what it was like to experience death or loss, who had no idea the difficulty that would make her future marriage stronger... Fast forward and learn that battling with depression has grown this girl into a stronger and better me.