Growing up, my mother dealt with depression. To say that she suffered heartache as a young woman would not do her pain justice. She lost her mother to cancer at 19, her grandfather to cancer at 20 and her cousin, which was like a brother, drowned tragically when she was 21. In the midst of this she got married and not too long after, she had me. Her one and only child. There is no question in my mind that the severe tragedy she endured during those years added to the pain already in her heart. Growing up she watched her mother slowly die from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. When other little girls were having sleepovers and dreaming of prince charming, my mother was praying for a miracle as she sat at the foot of a hospital bed. Her father was an alcoholic and she lost contact with him sometime in her teenage years. She was broken and bruised and because of that… I believe she did not have any strength left to fight the war that raged in her mind and emotions after I was born.
Her battle inevitably became mine as well. I can remember feeling hopeless and sad in my early teenage years. I wanted nothing more than to just escape. Escape my parents fighting, escape my low self esteem…I just wanted out. As I got older and became involved in church I started memorizing scriptures on joy and began asking God to help me fight my depressed moods. That season was amazing for me; I felt the cloud of despair begin to lift. I was laughing again and each day was lighter and better…yet I still had to work hard just to feel normal. During that time I got married and began ministering right alongside my husband. Our life was wonderful and also very stressful. We worked long hours and started the bad habit of putting everyone else’s needs before our own. Soon my daily devotionals were spent trying to figure out the problems of others and my time with the Lord was more business than anything. I began feeling isolated and alone again. Even though I was talking about my feelings, I felt as though no one understood. I was always pointed back to taking control of my emotions, praying harder and loving God more. It’s true that those things are vital and of course they helped. But, I was becoming exhausted from working so hard to maintain what others came by effortlessly. During that time I read “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge. Ladies, this is an amazing book and I would classify it as one of the “must reads”. In the book Stasi spoke openly about depression and her decision to go on medication. As soon as I read that chapter, I knew in my heart that I should pursue the same route. So, after talking with Barry and praying for direction, I spoke with my doctor. You can read about that encounter in my earlier post on depression. I stayed on the anti-depressants for a while, but I allowed myself to begin feeling judged, like I didn’t have the faith to overcome the battle in my mind. In order to “fit in” I stopped taking them and I felt myself slowly slipping back. But this time around not only did I feel down…I became anxious and worried.
Fast forward a couple of years. After the birth of Rowan, my precious little boy I saw myself struggling more and more with my moods. This time though it was different. Throw in physical exhaustion, financial stress as well as the sea of hormones rushing through my body…all together I felt like a mess. I was happier than ever as a new mommy, but there were days when I felt like I just couldn’t get a grip. I was exhausted and even though I was staying faithful in trusting God for joy, I felt as though I needed something practical, I needed to get back on anti-depressants. Luckily, this time around as I opened up about my feelings with some very good friends they understood what I was feeling and urged me to talk to a doctor. But, not just any doctor an actual psychiatrist. Honestly, I was kind of excited. I mean now that we live in L.A. that’s the thing to do. Anyone that’s anyone has a psychiatrist darling!
So, I made my appointment and began the process of healing. I started back on anti-depressants (Thank God) and realized after talking with numerous minsters’ wives that I was not alone in my battle. Now, instead of feeling isolated, I am able to rejoice in the fact that I am on the road to recovery. I’m not there…but I’ve started the process. Not that life is all rosy, but I can say that I do not have to spend my prayer time trying to psyche myself up to enjoy the day. Laughter flows more freely, the anxiety and worry is sub-siding.
I feel like I’m living life again, instead of watching it pass me by. 🙂
This is probably the most difficult post I have written. My hope is that as I have opened up about this topic that others will feel free to talk about it as well. When it comes to depression, being honest with yourself and others is part of the healing. I am praying for you wives out there, you don’t have to go through this alone.