My Journey through Depression
My journey through depression was a long one. Something someone did to me brought depression to my life when I was 11 years old. Though I now know it wasn’t my fault, it dug a pit that has taken far too long to get out of and fill in.
I did not know I was in the pit until about ten years after I had been in it. Depression wasn’t something anyone talked about then, and only now is its stigma being dismantled.
When I received a diagnosis, my doctor gave me medication to help me move forward. I wasn’t on that for long because of the side effects; therapy worked much better for me. Just having someone objective to listen and give advice and who I knew I wouldn’t be hurt by what I said was helpful. I don’t even remember much of what they said. In all, my journey included three separate periods in therapy with Christian counselors.
The reason I am alive today, though, is because of hope. While my feelings often tried to convince me otherwise, I always had some semblance of hope that God was real and that he would lead me out of the mud and mire of the pit.
Hope in God
In all the ups and downs that make up my journey, I always hoped that God was real. At times, the hope was very small. That was all I needed to keep breathing.
I simply hoped that God was who the Bible said he was. Grasping at that made all the difference for me. I often wondered where God was, and I too often doubted that he was even present in my life. Since then, I realize that he is always present regardless of if I feel or see his activity. I also realize that one of the biggest ways he was and still is present in my life is through the people he places in it.
The Presence of God
Though there are many other examples of the presence of God through the people he placed in my life, like my mother who gave me a desire to study God’s word and my in-laws who loved me unconditionally, the start of three different relationships mark giant leaps of progress in my overcoming depression.
We were high school sweethearts, but the depth of my husband’s commitment to me did not become clear until after our first year of marriage. As my unpredictable and sometimes angry nature continued, his patience remained steady. More than once, he simply told me “I will never leave you” in response to my trying to convince him he could find a better life with someone else. Through my husband’s commitment, God gave me the freedom to bravely press onward knowing I was not making the journey alone.
Six years after getting married, our oldest son was born. Becoming a mom created a desire in me to overcome depression like I’d never had before. I wanted my son to know how to identify and manage his emotions, and I knew a large part of that was having a mother who knew how to do those things. Though parenting is one of the hardest jobs, it is also one of the most rewarding and holds the greatest growth opportunities. God used my becoming a mother to make me less self-focused, providing a much-needed mindset change.
Eleven years after having our oldest son, our youngest son came into our lives. His first eight years were rough, to put it mildly, but we knew that God had gifted him to us even if we did not know the fullness of why at the time. While I had made a great deal of progress in my journey out of the pit of depression by that point, it still pulled me back in far too often. At this time in my life, my faith was much stronger and my outlook much more positive. I still needed more growth, though, and God showed me that I needed to be whole and healed to help my son become whole and healed.
The Power of Hope
In the midst of the final leg of my journey to overcome depression, the Holy Spirit placed some verses in my path that have become a reminder of the journey so far and hope for what the rest of it will bring.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
God had brought me a long way since depression first came to my life at age eleven. He had given me the gift of his presence through my husband and sons. He wasn’t finished yet, though.
As my relationships grew and deepened because of many challenges and struggles, so too did hope grow. I realized that God had more planned for me as an individual and for my family as well. The small spark of hope that existed in me when I felt empty of anything else had grown into a strong faith in the one who promises to do the impossible.
This outline of my journey through depression has many shades and colors I could add to give a more complete and fuller picture. While those details may offer insight and encouragement, I’ve discovered that the one lesson I desire most of all that anyone to learn from my journey out of the pit of depression is that of the power of hope.
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” (Psalm 42:5)