The Short Version
Depression fully entered my life around age 10 (fourth grade). The severity waxed and waned throughout 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 fourth through eighth 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 pit’s edge.
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.
My 40s involved much more consistency and much less ups and downs emotionally. As I struggled through raising two teenage boys, one quite rebellious, I increasingly learned how to rely on God. He led me through physical healing and to a place of mental stability. Today, I am ready for deeper connection in every area of my life as I stand fully healed from chronic depression.
Many and 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, and adrenal fatigue) that made climbing out of the pit feel 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 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. 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.
Toward the End
As I neared the end of chronic depression’s control over my life, I discovered a verse that has become my life’s verse.
“Do not remember the former things or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
This verse not only reminds me of what God has done for me — healed me from depression — it also keeps me focused on what he’s doing and going to do in my life. When life gets tough, I remember that he does the impossible (Matthew 19:26).
I’ve learned to “listen carefully” and look for the “new thing” God is doing in my life. It’s always there, and I find it when I focus on him.