being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Category Archives: Depression
We happened to be at the entrance at practically the same time.
She wore all black, a sleeveless top, flowing black pants, and cute little wedges. Her designer sunglasses sat on top of her head. In her nose, a tiny diamond stud.
She didn’t look at all like the sort of woman who would be struggling with an infant in a car seat, but she was.
I remember all too well the awkwardness of those infant car seats, so I opened the door for her.
It must have been enough. Because in the few minutes it took for the three or four people ahead of us to order their food, I heard a very condensed version of her life story.
It started as an innocent conversation.
“Today would be a nice day to tan.”
“Hmmm. It is a nice day outside.”
“Oh, I never tan outside. . . ”
From tanning, to body image, to being too fat to wear her pre-pregnancy clothes, to her lousy husband who told her she needed to lose weight, to how she used to starve herself to be skinny, to how she knew she needed to exercise but hated to go to the gym because she was either judged by skinny young girls or hit on by creepy old guys, to how she wanted to be skinny again so her husband would stick around, to how she didn’t want to be divorced, but that he didn’t love her, but that she didn’t want to be divorced, to how awful he was too her, to how it’s gotten her down, to how she has depression, to how she’s not suicidal, but how she has depression and her mom has it and her brother has it . . .
I nodded and listened. Because she barely took a breath between sentences.
Her baby, smiled and cooed in the car seat. With beautiful, big, baby blue eyes.
The few words I was able to get in were, “You have to be healthy for you and not let anyone else tell you who you are or should be.”
Would you share all those things with a complete stranger while waiting in line at Panera? I know I wouldn’t. I wasn’t sure why she did.
I stood there a little uncomfortable, but more concerned. This woman needed something.
She needed someone to tell her that it was ok to be her. That she was important. That she mattered.
I can only hope that I conveyed that in the few minutes we shared.
Because as quickly as our conversation started, it ended when our food was delivered and she said, “Well, have a great day!”
And that was it.
She and her baby were gone.
I was left standing there, holding my Thai chopped chicken salad, wondering just what happened.
And I prayed. Because I didn’t know what else to do. I prayed for her situation. I prayed that she would know her value. I prayed for her baby.
She shared more in five minutes than most people will share in a lifetime. Maybe because she felt like she could tell a complete stranger. Maybe I looked like I wouldn’t judge. Maybe because I opened the door for her. Maybe she would have told anyone and I just happened to be the person who was there. I really don’t know.
I don’t know why. But she felt like she could tell me that. So she did. And I just listened.
I don’t know if I’ll see her again. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.
Winter gripped my heart and held it in its grasp.
I found myself traveling down those dark roads in my mind, entertaining thoughts that most people don’t dare to venture.
There it was, staring me in the face again, my depression.
It steals so much life, so much humanity, so much joy from me. I wonder who else gets pulled in by its deathly clutches.
It’s why I’ve been absent. It’s why I’ve been distant. It’s why I’ve been hiding out in my house, begging those who drive by to please ignore the girl behind the curtain.
I don’t want people to see me. Or it. Or its effects.
I hate it, this depression.
I wonder who that person was, who this person is, what these motions I’ve been calling living have been all about. I feel like I’ve been out of my mind, out of my body, watching a poor woman struggle to just get out of bed each day. I’m watching a terrible movie with no plot, no direction, no storyline, no hope for getting better. But I can’t leave the theater because I’ve invested too much time and energy into it and I just have to see what the Great Author is going to do with this mess of a story.
So here I am, on the verge of a fresh, new Spring.
I have found myself rubbing my eyes at the sun’s first spring rays for the last few years. My ears open to the songs of the feathered northern travelers who’ve made their temporary home in my backyard. I’m waking up from a sleepwalking dream that seems so surreal. I feel all the promise that Spring brings, a breath of fresh air and the newness of life.
Yet, the devastation of the harsh winter that is my depression is very real and very present. It has affected me and the people close to me that I love so very much.
I know it’s been rough on them.
Because this morning, my almost six year-old was surprised to find me in a good mood when she woke up, like it’s only on the most rare occasion that mommy should could would ever be in a good mood.
Because my husband is doing everything he knows to do to help me (because he loves me), but he still feels helpless.
Because several members of my family, who live far away, are making treks to visit me, even if they know it will only lift my spirits for a time.
I can’t explain it. All I know is that the people who love me, who care about me, are all saying the same thing, “I’m worried about you.”
I am so thankful for all of them. Because they know me. They can tell when life isn’t life to me. And they pray.
I am so thankful that I’m not alone. They may not get it. They may not understand it. They don’t know how to help me. But they love me just the same. They haven’t given up on me just because loving me is difficult. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. Without them, I’d be just another buried soul that had given up before her measure of living had been complete.
So thank you, old friends and new, in real life and online, for not letting me give up. For calling and pestering and emailing and facebooking and twittering and caring.
Thank you Lord, for putting all of them in my life.
My coffee mug speaks more words of life than I know.
I want to tell you about my amazing friend.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a gut-wrenching post describing my depression. While my heart is always in God’s hands, while each tear I shed is counted by him, while I fully trust his refining work and redemptive power in my life (and in this instance, my depression), I also know that a divinely placed friend was a ray of light in such a dark place.
It’s very rare to find someone who loves you unconditionally. However, at just the time I needed a friend like her, God sent her.
You see, we attended the same small church for a couple of years. We sat across from each other in the pews. We shook the other’s hand on Sunday. Said our short hellos. And then respectfully returned to our seats when the hymns started.
It took us three years before we became friends. And then, that only happened because we went to Bible study together.
Then I invited her and her husband over for dinner. And the four of us (hubs and I, her and her hubs) were like, “What took us so long?” Kindred spirits we were. Immediate, intimate friends.
As we quickly grew closer, we shared our struggles and opened our hearts. While our guys played PS3 in the background, we were hashing out the hard stuff in the other room. Her story. My story. Our hearts woven into a beautiful fabric of grace that only believers can share with one another.
She saw our family at its worst. She saw me at my worst. She didn’t run away. She drew closer. She came over and cleaned my kitchen. She stopped by just because. She prayed with me. She gave me hugs. She wasn’t afraid to get down in the mud and just be with me, being covered from head to toe in the nasty, putrid, mud of the world. She NEVER stopped loving me.
I’m not a psychiatrist or an expert. I’m just someone who has lived through it. I know for me, at the time, this friend was a life line. She let me be me at my worst and still loved me.
If you know someone who suffers from depression, I’m asking you to reach out to him or her. That person will not reach for you. In fact, he or she will shrink down into themselves. Depression is an isolator. It hinders its victims from having relationship. Don’t take it personally. If you look closely at your friend or loved one you’ll realize that he or she has been taken hostage by depression.
Maybe this person just needs you to sit in the mud. Maybe they just need you to be there. To pick up the slack where they let go. To say, “I don’t care how ugly this gets, I’m here, with you, because I love you.” Don’t be afraid to get dirty, even if it’s uncomfortable. You may be the only sign of life for that person, the only offering of love.
This thought, this story has been on my mind for weeks. I feel compelled to write this, though it’s excruciating to write and probably equally excruciating to read. And I know that as soon as I hit publish, I’m going to have to fight every temptation to delete this post.
But it’s a story that must be told, that must be shared. Someone needs it. Maybe I’m the person who needs to write it, read it, remember it and thank God that he delivered me. It’s a story told from the secret places of my heart. It’s the kind of story that is talked about behind closed doors and in hushed tones.
It’s a story that’s uncomfortable to write and share. If you’re hoping for a happy, feel good post, this is not it. If you want to be comfortable, you need to stop reading right now. The story is two years old, but the memory of it serves to remind me that I survived. I almost didn’t. It’s the story of my depression, and the deepest, darkest, scariest rabbit hole I remember traveling. It’s the story that makes me thank God every single day that I’m still alive, that His story for my life isn’t finished yet.
It’s late. The baby’s been nursed. The girls are sleeping soundly. It’s dark and it’s cold. We’re slowly on our way to spring here in Alaska, but we have a long way to go. Hubs finished his book and is snoring softly in our bedroom. The circumstances of this difficult evening started me down this path of irrational logic and the leaps and bounds I’m taking are drunk with despair. But, really, I’ve been feeling this way for months now.
And now I’m here, alone with my thoughts. My sick, twisted, irrational, if-people-could-look-inside-my-head-they’d-see-what-kind-of-freak-I-really-am thoughts. It’s not the first time I’ve had these thoughts, but maybe it can be the last time. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed with anxiety. My heart aches more than usual tonight. The way I feel has brought me to this place, sitting in the kids’ bathtub just thinking. Small shards of glass, breaking through the wall of my emotional heart, wondering if maybe, just maybe, they’d all be better off without me.
Because Hubs deserves a better wife than he has. Someone who can lose the baby weight. Someone who can keep the house in better shape. Someone who gets up and fixes his coffee and his breakfast before a long day of work. Someone who is the perfect Army wife. The kids need a mom who isn’t a shell of a woman, always depressed, just barely treading to keep her head above the water, physically here but emotionally absent. They need a mom who plans crafts, and takes them to parks, and plans fun activities for them. They need someone who is cheerful and fun and able to plan their days for them. I can see their mother in my head and I don’t think I’m supposed to be that woman. And really, they’re too young to understand or know what’s going on anyway. He’ll marry again and they’ll have a new mother. I won’t even be a faint memory.
Thinking about sharp things. I’ve never cut before, but maybe it would help. Razor. Scissors. Knife. I imagine the steel piercing my skin, the blood flowing. Would it make my heart stop pounding with silent screams of pain that only I can hear in my head? Would it at least numb me to it? A little release, that’s all I want. Or more. A lot of release. From this world. Because I’m sure this world is better off without me.
I wring my wrists in my hands, rubbing the purple veins with my thumbs over and over. My blood travels through them. My life travels through them.
Minutes pass. Tick, tick, tick. Aching, drowning, fearing. An hour. And still the pain persists. My bones ache with emotional fatigue. My head pounds, and the pounding travels down my neck, making my ears ring. I hear nothing but the dark thoughts racing in my mind. Planning. Plotting. How to end this insatiable pain burning through my veins, but still giving the people I love the best possible chance after I’m gone. Time continues to race by, but I am immobilized by the tiny spears, thoughts of death, tearing through my heart. Where are the sharp things? Something’s got to give here.
I feel my hands grip the side of the tub. I slowly lift myself up. My legs, two moving pieces of lead carry me out the door, down the stairs, around the corner. The kitchen. I find the wooden step stool and sit in the corner. Pain. Pain. Pain. It rings in my ears and travels to my toes. With each heartbeat pain pulses through my veins. I survey the room, looking for something, anything to get release. The house is quiet but everything inside me is screaming.
I JUST WANT OUT!
I NEED TO GET OUT!
IT HURTS TOO MUCH!
Minutes pass by slowly again. Minutes into hours. And the same thoughts, once only in my head reverberate through my entire body as a rhythm made only for this moment. “Do it. Cut. Bleed. Do it. Cut. Bleed. Do it. Cut. Bleed. Do it. Cut. Bleed.” It marches on in my mind, in my heart. Though I can picture myself getting up from the stool, walking to the drawer, pulling out the knife, and . . . something keeps me glued to the stool, unable to move.
A noise. I look up. It’s Hubs.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
“I . . . I can’t . . . sleep.” I reply.
He looks me up and down. I see it in his eyes. He’s always been able to see right through me. He knows it’s worse than it’s ever been. He knows that whatever it was that woke him up wasn’t a mistake. I look down and focus on a fake “knot of wood” in the laminate flooring. My eyes are frozen to the spot. I feel my eyes filling and the salty tears blur the “knot” into a brownish-yellowish mess.
Like a small obedient child, I feel my body rising. I find myself standing in front of him, afraid to look in his eyes. If I look in his eyes, he’ll see. He’ll be able to see all that I’ve been thinking, all that I’ve been hearing in my head for the last three hours.
He puts his index finger on my chin and lifts my face so that our eyes meet. And he sees it. The dark passenger called depression. It’s been on board for awhile and it’s taken the train, his wife, hostage.
He wraps his arms around me and I collapse into an ocean of tears that I can’t explain. My breath catches over and over in a deep sob and I can’t speak. I don’t have to. While all of it isn’t right there for him to view and see, he knows that something bad almost happened.
He asks me several questions to confirm his fears. I answer honestly because I have no strength to keep this hidden anymore.
His arm around my waist, he aids me up the stairs and into our bed. He wraps his arms around me and pulls me close. Neither of us sleep well. Him, afraid of what I’ll do if he slumbers. Me, haunted by all that just happened.
He leaves for work the next morning and begs me to make the phone call.
And I do.
I do it because I can’t stay where I am. And if I stay where I am, I won’t be here much longer. The appointment’s set. I’ll see the counselor.
It’s not the end of my story. I have more life to live. More life to give to others.
I wasn’t the only one in the bathroom, in the kitchen that night. Torn between two worlds, one bursting with life and grace, the other fraught with lies, despair and death. Two worlds, warring over one soul. The thing about light is that it only takes a small ray to break up the darkness. Somewhere in the midst of the heavy, oppressing darkness, a small ray of grace and hope and love broke through. It was all I needed to see that there was more.
By God’s grace, I would find a way to take each step that led me up out of the basement. Over the next fourteen months I’ll climb and climb and climb. I’ll go to counseling. I’ll learn that these aren’t normal thoughts. I’ll spend some time on ant-depressants. I’ll wean myself off the anti-depressants, experiencing every withdrawal symptom associated with the drug I’ve been taking. I’ll learn about myself. I’ll see how depression takes my circumstances and and distorts them in a way that steals my joy. I’ll pray, a lot. I’ll realize that while my depression is part of who I am, it’s not the definition of who I am.
And here I am. I live with my depression. It’s not gone forever and I don’t know that it will ever be on this side of heaven. On those days when I feel myself starting to spiraling out of control, I remember this night. And I find away to stay away from the basement door. I pray. I read the Bible or remember one of the Lord’s promises. I start to name things I am thankful for. I sit down to read a book with my kids. I call those who know me best and love me despite my faults. I write. I don’t let myself turn that door knob. If I do, I’ll find myself tumbling down those stairs and at the bottom bruised, hurt, and looking for a way to escape.
I am a depression sufferer and survivor.
If you suffer from depression, please visit To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) for a list of organizations that can help. If you are a military member, spouse, or family member, call or email Military One Source for information on FREE COUNSELING. Getting help is the first step to getting better.
Ok, so not really. My past has shaped who I am today. I already wrote a post about what I’d say to my former selves. This post is not a repeat of that.
Actually, I want to try to go to bed before midnight tonight (I have 32 minutes until midnight . . . not sure I’ll make it, but we’ll try). So quick post for you. I have mentioned in my “What’s My Story?” that I tried writing several different types of blogs in the past. And it’s true. I have.
Some of those blogs still exist. I haven’t deleted them. They mostly concentrated on one area of my life. But I still wrote them and those posts could be relevant to what I write here on Doin’ It Halfway.
So, here are half of my other blogs for you to check out. Don’t worry, Doin’ It Halfway is my end-all. But, I thought I’d still share them in case you’d like to see a little bit more of who I am. Because I was as honest on these other blogs as I am on Doin’ It Halfway. It’s just that when I started the other blogs, I didn’t have the time machine to go forward in time to see that I would write a catch-all blog later on down the road.
R House of Drama: Where I posted about my adventures of being a mom of three girls. And really, having three girls is an adventure. of. drama. Why, just today, we had a rendition of “That’s Mine! No it’s not! It’s mine!” Love those girls, even though they make me so crazy that I had to tell hubs to put them to bed tonight because my attitude was as bad as theirs.
Voice of My Depression: I started this blog a month or so ago, wanting to have an honest discussion about depression and show people who don’t suffer from depression what depression is all about. Wow – I used the word depression three times in the previous sentence. Weird. Anyway – it’s a little more of the serious side of me. And there are only like three posts because I started to write this blog instead. But it’s still me and you’ll find posts like these scattered throughout Doin’ It Halfway in the future.
P90X: One Fat Chic’s Journey: Ok, I’m keepin’ it real with this one. I’m a little ashamed to put this one out there because it’s for real, me. And my struggle with weight. But whatever. I’ve had three kids. I’ve gone through a deployment. I’ve had some rough family situations, moved seven times in the last five years, and lived in a hotel when I started writing Fat Chic’s Journey. Oh yeah, I mentioned Tae Bo in my “What’s My Story?”, but not P90X. I did it for about three weeks. Yep. Halfway. I will tell you that I deleted the pictures because the current readers of “Halfway” are people who know me and, while I’m honest, I just can’t share the rolls. But the stats, I’ll keep up. Mostly because it pertains to struggle with weight and eating and exercise that I mention here.
All these themes (and more) will be discussed at some point here on Doin’ It Halfway. But for now, it’s easier to just link to what’s already been written to give you a little more insight into the crazy world that is mine.
Didn’t make the midnight deadline. Boo. Oh well. As Scarlet O’Hara would say, “I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”