I’ve always been a little bit on the sassy side, willing to say what I think, fight for what I want, and stand up for what I believe. Hopefully I’ve matured a little and have learned to apply that trait more appropriately.
I haven’t had a good fight lately, probably due to my matured ability to choose my battles and let things go. But, I’m writing today to let the world know that I have been presented with a battle and I have chosen to fight.
The battle I’m fighting is depression. It is by far the darkest, most debilitating trial I’ve experienced to date. Oh, I’ve had other difficulties, I’ve experienced the following and more:
Extreme loneliness and isolation
Overwhelming college classes
Difficult and possibly life-threatening pregnancies (two)
Baby with an APGAR score of “1”
Having to leave home and family (and move several states away)
A sick baby
38 months of sleepless nights
Extended family crises
Overwhelm, self-doubt, and feelings of failure
I know there are worse things that can happen and many people have experienced them. I cannot compare depression to anything I haven’t experienced. But for me, it is the deepest darkness of all.
The first two times I dealt with depression it was postpartum. Any reading I did on the subject was strictly about postpartum depression and it was for the purpose of trying to understand what I was currently experiencing. I hoped that if I could understand it better I could fight it better. I never really did arrive at an understanding, but God faithfully brought His light into my darkness.
My third experience was also a response to a physical event, though it wasn’t child birth. This time I experienced “post-surgery depression”. Who knew? That was the first hint I had that I might be vulnerable to depression outside the occurrence of child birth.
When the clouds of that depression started to lift, I started doing some more reading. I knew that there would come a time when I didn’t feel the need to research depression because I would feel fine. One doesn’t feel a strong need to learn to fight depression when she feels like she has already overcome it. Looking objectively at what I had experienced, I was beginning to see that even though I was healing from this particular occurrence, it would probably be back. I decided it was time I start learning about this illness in general and not just about postpartum depression. If this was going to hit me again, I wanted to be prepared.
So, I read a book or two.
And then I felt better and started focusing on other things. Not feeling the burden of deep depression, I wasn’t driven to learn to fight it.
Several months later I began to accept the reality that I was still dealing with a low level of depression. I went to my doctor and agreed to take a higher dose of Zoloft. Still, I didn’t feel compelled to learn more and equip myself to fight. I think at that point I had resigned myself to letting the medicine fight for me.
Shorty after that I discovered the most frightening truth of my life. For the first time, I experienced deep, terrifying depression that was not in response to a physical stimulus. In the preceding months I had allowed myself to be pulled into an intense spiritual battle; one that had actually been silently brewing for many years, and one that I plan to write about in the future. One Friday evening, this battle was brought to a crucial climax. In the course of about an hour, I was brought into accountability by a loved one while at the very same time offered grace, support, and forgiveness. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced those emotions at the same time, but it’s a pretty powerful mix. After crying until I felt sort of dead, I thought I would join my family and try to have a normal evening. I was shocked at what happened instead. In a matter of moments I went from feeling like things would be okay to having a panic attack and sinking into a deep depression. I saw myself in the hospital on heavy medication. I was terrified that I would never be well again. I now knew that not only was I vulnerable to depression outside of child birth, but outside the incidence of any kind of physical trauma.
God ministered to me through my husband that night and throughout the following week. I was shocked and thankful that this round of depression only lasted about a week. (I say only to compare it to how long it could have lasted, not to in any way imply that a week of depression does not feel like an eternity.)
Since then I’ve had one more dip into depression, probably because I decided to decrease my medicine (due to some side effects) and we decreased it too quickly. Eventually, I plan to decrease my medicine and hopefully stop it altogether. But here is one thing I know:
I am prone to depression. And it’s time I started fighting back.
Within a week after that critical night, God showed me just how powerful He is, and just how much He loves me. He swept in and pulled me from that battle, healed my wounds, and He finished it Himself. My enemy tried to pull me back into that battle, and my flesh was tempted to listen. But by the grace of God, I’m learning to recognize the weapons that Satan uses against me. More importantly:
I know Who is on my side and that no weapon that’s fashioned against me will stand.
Concerning this specific spiritual battle, other battles to come, and the battle against depression, I am declaring that “The battle belongs to the Lord.” And He has already won.
I’m picking up my armor today. I’m going to put my tendency to fight to good use. I’ll be writing about it as I go along in case there is anyone out there who may be blessed by what I’m learning. If you would like to receive notices when I post thoughts/articles about this topic, please sign up for my mailing list to your right.
Thank you for reading. I pray that if this issue has touched your life in any way, whether depression has affected you or a loved one, that you will find some kind of help, comfort, courage, or relief through what I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks.
If you have friends who may be blessed by this article and the ones to follow, please consider clicking the “Share” button below. I humbly ask for your prayers as I approach this battle and as I attempt to bless others by being transparent and sharing my experience. I know I have already gained the victory through Jesus Christ. Please pray that His power would be evident, and the He will use this to not only make me victorious but many others as well.
If you are of the opinion that depression is not real, is a choice, or only affects people who don’t have “enough faith” then I, as respectfully as possible,ask you to please keep your opinion to yourself. One too many people have have expressed this uninformed perspective and, in doing so, have served no one (except, perhaps, themselves) and hurt many. The rest of us will continue to lean on each other, support each other, turn to God for rescue, and to fight.
For other articles in this series, click here.