When I am in the midst of it, I feel like I am not at the bottom of the barrel, but underneath the barrel looking up at the bottom. This depression, like anxiety, is debilitating. not necessarily always physically so, as I can still oftentimes scurry about my business, doing my chores, my responsibilities, what is required of me. but the mental part is crushing - the same with anxiety. Anxiety can mimic any physical symptom there is. It HURTS! When I am in this state, everything seems darker. I lose my joy, my ability to see the beauty around me.
And shame becomes part of the battle also. The evil one taunts me with thoughts like - what do you have to be depressed and anxious about? You have a wonderful family, a husband who loves you, great friends, etc, etc. But its not about that. It is truly a mental struggle for which there often feels like there is no escape. From my earliest memories as a little one, I can remember being anxious about things. Even though I had parents who adored me - I can remember my dad saying 'its ok, honey, I am right here' - I still have struggled, all through life.
I am not suicidal, but I do think how wonderful it will be someday when I am in heaven, tucked up under the arm of Jesus - I will be still inside, at rest, peaceful, quiet...that thing that is always turning inside me will be gone! But for now, He has chosen for me to stay here. If any of you have read my past posts, heaven does enter into what I feel is a great hope for all suffering.
I would like to share four things that have helped me get thru life during my dark times.
1) If you know someone who is struggling with anxiety or depression and want to help, offer a specific when reaching out to that person. saying - 'let me know if I can do anything' is almost like offering nothing at all. This is because when I am in my dark times, I can hardly keep my own head above water, let alone try and think of something for that person to do for me. besides, I feel so crappy about myself I get a sense that I don't even deserve help because I feel like such a loser.
Years ago, during one of my dark times, a lady from my then church called me and said - 'can I bring you a gallon of milk?'. At the time I was so taken aback, I could only stutter out an affirmative answer. When she knocked on my door, she briskly walked inside and said she wanted to clean my house, she would watch my toddler while I took a nap with my baby. When I got up, she had prepared dinner, played with my little boy, washed my curtains, tidied my house...I found out later that she had a daughter who had struggled with anorexia. I do not remember her name, but I will never forgot the gift she gave me and the valuable lesson I learned from her.
2) Actively giving thanks and praise to God no matter how I feel is a combat to the dark side. Recently I read the new book about Mother Theresa. She struggled for years with what she called her 'darkness'. she felt utterly alone, far from God, lonely for His personal touch, yet never strayed from her mission to love the neediest among us. No one knew of her inner battle because of her devotion to God in spite of the pain. Reading this book about her gave me a sense of 'I am not alone, even Mother Theresa felt like me!'
Now I am no Mother Theresa. and when I am at a deep point I can hardly crack open the door of my mind to actively praise and be thankful, but surely doing so or trying to do so can only be a positive resistance to the maelstrom within. If I go thru the letters of the alphabet, picking a Bible verse for each letter (have to get pretty creative for some of the letters!) then I at least am filling my mind with something tangibly living from our Lord. This leads to number 3....
3) Use God's Word to prop yourself up - "I can do all things thru Christ Who strengthens me'....'my grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness'....'for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power and of love and of a sound mind'...'do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, make your requests known to God - and the peace of God which transcends all human understanding will keep your hearts and minds quiet and at rest in Christ Jesus...' - I may not feel any of these when I am in my low place, but I cling to the hope of Jesus, that He loves me, that He will get me through. my bleak and fearful feelings are not reliable - but HE is.
4) And finally, learning to just say 'I hear you' affirms my struggle. you can't fix me and I hate that I am this way. I can't stand this part of myself - when a person says something like - 'can't you give yourself adult information?' or "just snap out of it' or 'using medication is a crutch' - it only serves to deepen my struggle and guilt and shame for having this crappy disorder. If I could make it go away, I would, but you can be my friend by not pitying me, but loving me where I am at.
Ok, that's it. Thanks for listening. :-)