I am having a hard time writing the blog this week. Why? You ask. I feel led to be totally transparent. Transparency is hard for me though, as I tend to internalize my thoughts and feelings.
This past year, you see, I went through clinical depression. This is hard for me to admit, because I am going into the mental health field and I struggle with the old saying, “Physician heal thyself.”
Several things combined to drag me down into depression. First depression runs in my family…big time… meaning there is a genetic predisposition towards it. So my depression was biological. Along with genetics came the biology of menopause and changing hormones. Then I looked for a counseling internship for a long time and got discouraged on the way. I did find an internship but ended up having to change sites after the first semester. In addition, I worked on my degree through an online program and therefore spent my time home alone a lot. I was not bothered by the alone time until I finished my classwork and still did not have an internship. I had too much
time to think and no sense of purpose. Together these issues formed the perfect storm for depression.
Depression is all consuming and draining. I spent most of my days sleeping and I had no motivation to live the life I had previously loved. I do not mean I was suicidal, but rather passionless. My thoughts were dark and I felt as if I were spinning down, down, down, into a deep dark pit. I cut myself off from people and even from myself.
Why do I tell you this? You ask. I was not alone in my depression. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 1 out of 20 people 12 and older suffer depression in a given year. This means there is a higher lifetime prevalence of depression.
And depression is not the only mental health issue with which people struggle. People struggle with anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder (which involves depressive episodes), schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, and the list goes on.
In fact, in the Bible both Kings Solomon and David suffered depression. There was a difference between the two though. Solomon in his depression turned away from God, whereas David in his depression turned to God. That is when David wrote some of his most powerful Psalms. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” David cried out in Psalm 13. “How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?” David declared the depth of his depression in this Psalm. But he also declared his trust in God and praised God as he sang out at the end of the Psalm, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
When I went through depression it took a multifaceted approach to heal. I had to use medicine, counseling, family support, and a lot of prayer and Bible study. I clung to God and on him I found a foundation in my miry pit. Even in the days when I could not hear him, I cried out to the Father. I stood strong on the fact that Jesus took upon himself my pain. My faith was the strength that got me through.
Do you know someone with a mental health issue? Please do not look down on them, but into their eyes. Walk with them through the valley of the shadow of death. Reassure them that you love and so does God and that they are valuable and worthy. When Job was sick and depressed his friends did best when they simply sat with him. It was when they tried to give him advice that they messed up. Sit with your friend or loved one. Simply be with them. Let them feel God’s love through you.
Are you suffering depression, excessive anxiety, or some other mental health issue? I want to reassure you that Jesus loves you. He has not abandoned you. You are in his arms. You are his precious child.
Out of the Pit,