My Depression Story

The post below first appeared at Cycle Guy’s Spin as part of a series on depression with the focus of helping those who have loved ones struggling with depression but who have never themselves personally struggled with it. The depression series stemmed from my second chance story, which was part of a series on 2nd Chances on Cycle Guy’s Spin.

With depression coming even more to our attentions with the death of Robin Williams recently, I decided to repost the depression series here on Struggle to Victory. Tuesday’s post will present the second of 5 posts in the depression series.

DEPRESSION

My Story in Summary

Depression fully entered my life around age 10 (4th grade). The severity waxed and waned through high school with the lowest points coming during my twenties. Actual diagnoses came around age 22, just a year or so after getting married.

As a child and through high school, I was very emotional and cried easily. I even had the nickname “baby” stick with me from 4th through 8th grade. In my twenties, I became pretty volatile and hit a desperate low, considering suicide at various times.

Around age 28, light broke through the heavy cloud in my mind, and I began the climb out of the pit. Still unpredictable emotionally and still a regular pit-dweller, I began visiting the edge of the pit.

My 30s can be characterized by discovering and dealing with root causes. Lots of ups and downs still during this time, but the lows became not quite as low and got continually higher as I slowly but surely dealt with the various causes.

Many & Varied Causes

The causes of depression for me were many and varied. I held unforgiveness toward several individuals, and I had some very unhealthy thought patterns needing reprogrammed along with some pretty poor relational habits.

In many ways, I really had no way to even deal with the emotions of life, not even to identify what I was feeling and experiencing. Added to all of that, I had some significant health issues (food allergy, food sensitivities, thyroid issues, hormonal imbalance & adrenal fatigue) that made climbing out of the pit nearly impossible.

Then there was my inability to take personal responsibility for myself or to even recognize the need to do so as well as being pretty confused about who this distant God of the universe was.

Hopelessness in Depression

I definitely felt hopeless at times, but there was always the slight hope of a hope that God was real and would not leave me to sink in the mud of the pit that was my life and had been for so very long. That hope literally kept me alive.

A positive that came out of that hopelessness, which I know sounds very strange to say, is a realization of how powerless I was to change myself. With all my efforts, I could improve but never overcome. I could skirt the edge of the pit at times but never really be free from falling back in pretty regularly. There was always more struggle than anything else with true victory seeming only a fairytale.

Even while visiting that long period in my life through my memories, I recall all too well the feelings of that old life. But, I need to remember them once in a while and to be reminded of where I came from, so I can better appreciate where I am today. Remembering life in the pit provides tremendous motivation for doing whatever I need to do to make sure I never go back no matter what happens in my life.

DISCUSSION: For those of you who have not struggled with depression, what questions, thoughts, etc. do you have? For those who do/have suffer, what can you share related to my story above that would help others who suffer or love someone who suffers with depression?

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15 thoughts on “My Depression Story

  1. Kari,
    I believe we are all susceptible to falling into the pit of despair; to be covered with darkness that seems to have no end. Even those that think they could not; life has a way of humbling you. I know you are right and we must cling to God to keep the dark at bay and to keep ourselves out of the pit.
    My father killed himself 4 years ago and we were never able to pull him from the darkness that poured into his life. Even when we are tied closely to God life can be pretty damn tough. We all need to be encouraged in this life and when we can we need to come alongside others and do so.

    • One of the biggest roadblocks I have in writing/talking about depression and especially as I set out to write a book about it is how I can find the way out and so many, like your father, cannot. I'm nothing special, and everything I did on the journey others can do. So why me? Maybe it's sort of a survivor guilt… I'm not sure. Maybe it's that the path is only clear from the outside. This struggle is second only to having to revisit my past with depression. These two things could stop me from moving forward. It's a tough one. I mean, I know that the Gospel message is truly what brought me out of the pit, but why didn't it for others? I have no answers right now, to be honest, but I feel like I need to come to terms with this, that everyone dealing with depression in some way, shape or form (and that is everyone, btw) must contend with this too.

  2. Kari,
    I do not think you need to feel at all guilty. I do not know the answer as to why you and why not someone else. I do know I need to trust God that in the bigger picture of things that is how it needed to be. I know when one struggles then those they love struggle too. Did those struggles result in my dad's love ones getting closer to God? I again do not know and do not expect to know this side of heaven. I admire how you have overcome and I want you to continue to move forward. Do not let the past determine your future. Relish the journey you have Kari. For it blesses others. I know it must be tough to revisit the past but it does some good things as well. It allows us to praise God for what he has done. We would all do well to learn from our past.

    • I guess I'm trying to figure out how to address the idea that many do not make it out of depression this side of Heaven. Is it about the small choices they make along the way that add up? Also, related to this, would you be interested in sharing more about your point of view of depression from someone who had a loved one who struggled with it? I would be interested in hearing more either through the comment streams or via email. I think it would add a depth in one area of the book I'm working on, and I suspect you have insight that can help others too. But, if it's still too painful of a topic, I understand. I'll leave the ball in your court.

  3. One of the hardest things is for this to be recognized by both the person and those around them. I am meeting with a lady just this morning who got a call Sunday night not to the bring her grandkids home (15 & 11) because her son (their father) tried to kill himself. No warning. That is a topic for your book is how can I recognize it? What should I look for? Are there tell-tale signs? Yep, I smell a book. LOL
    My recent post Garbage

    • Identifying depression in one sense is getting harder in our culture where everyone gets to be right, a sort of relative truth kind of culture. At the same time, there's increasing awareness about depression too, yet this awareness makes it seem like it's something to battle like cancer. To some extent, it is like other diseases, but to some extent, it definitely is not. Your comment and questions made me realize that not only do I need to come to terms with my own understanding of the signs and symptoms but that I need a better understanding of the research and beliefs currently out there about depression too. Yet, I don't want the book to be research-based too much, there are experts much more qualified to do that, as experiential-based. Oh do I need the Holy Spirit to help on this as well as a support system to help me sort through this. Hear that, I need OTHERS to help me…

  4. I've said it before and say it again, keep this coming Kari. I cannot tell you how many people I know who suffer from depression. That is not the worst of it, the worst is, they are ashamed to talk about it, some will not even go to a doctor for it. So not only do they suffer but those who live with them suffer. You go girl.
    My recent post Chocolate Is From The Lord

    • Thanks once again for the encouragement, Betty. There's more to come for sure, not just this series but a book based on this series as well as a NF book idea I'm working on centered around mental illness. It's amazing how this topic gets so much publicity but is still so taboo, not just for those who suffer to not speak about it but for those who watch them suffer afraid to say anything. Your support in this is much appreciate and needed!

  5. I'm proud of you for sharing about such a difficult time in your life.
    Depression has touched many lives in my family, including my own. You're right, we can't control it. That's hard for people who have never experienced it to understand.
    "pulling ourselves up with our bootstraps" isn't really an option. Only God can help (and meds/counseling help too, but I advocate God being included in any treatment program).

    Look forward to reading more of this series.

    • Good to have you back, TC! While we're in it, no we cannot control it. But now that I'm out of it, I find that I can keep from going back there. I can prevent it from returning. But, doing so requires God. Not an option without Him. Looking forward to having your input on my and other blogs again!

  6. I have never been diagnosed with full-blown depression, but I know I struggle with it, at times. I can't speak to the clinical diagnosis and the aspects that we have no control over, but I can tell you what has helped me. As I mentioned over at my blog, writing has been a powerful weapon in terms of staying in a positive mindset. Otherwise, thoughts become jumbled in my head, and I start feeling sorry for myself about various issues.

    In addition, I must get outside and spend time in nature and in the sun. That is why I struggle in winter more than other times of year. Also, it has been imperative for me to read inspirational and positive books and listen to podcasts that teach and inspire.

    The biggest help, though, comes in the way of serving others. When I look at the needs of others and find ways to help, my issues tend to fade away.
    My recent post How the Stories We Tell Ourselves Shape Our Lives

    • Definitely don't need a diagnosis to know depression is a struggle, Chris. Your tips for overcoming it are really good ones, and I've used all of them in some form at one point. The one that sticks out the most is serving others. Amazing how this gets you outside your head and even causes you to "forget" your depression for a time. It often takes ignoring feelings at first, but serving others almost always lifts your spirits when you do it. Nature… positive reading… writing… all terrific ways to keep depression at bay and to even work out of it when it hits. Thanks for giving your perspective. I think it's especially helpful to those who haven't been diagnosed but believe they struggle with it too. Just admitting the struggle is often half the battle in finding victory.

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