I was once visited a dark and lonely place, and I stayed there a while. I’d start to leave and I just couldn’t break completely away. I didn’t choose to go there. No one chooses depression; it chooses you. It was a place I didn’t understand, so I couldn’t expect those around me to understand it.
It started with the hold up. The fears, some real, some absolutely over the top spun out of control. Anxiety set in and then the panic attacks started. I probably actually had post traumatic stress syndrome but as my symptoms escalated it closely resembled depression. While I was getting help for this, I decided to try to work through some other issues from my past. And to top it, my best friend from high school was dying of cancer. So, I actually had a multitude of emotional issues going on along with working full time, raising children, and trying to run a household.
I went through several series of anti-anxiety meds and anti depressants. When they weren’t working, I sunk deeper into myself. I liked calling it introspection. Truth be told, I liked that I was untouchable. I didn’t have to face these demons head on and work through them. I liked calling myself a victim and blaming everyone for everything that wasn’t exactly the way I wanted it in my life. I was a control freak who had lost total power over her life. I threw a very long pity party for myself and remained a prisoner of my own mind for way too long. When I go back now and read poetry I wrote at that time, I shake at how morbid it is. I once ripped it to shreds and tossed it into the trash, only to find about a year later that I’d typed a lot of it and had another copy. Now, I can read it and be happy for how far I’ve come.
In retrospect, I feel badly for how diligent my therapist had to be session after session to repeat the process to win my trust in her which usually took until almost the end of each session. She was ever gentle and patient in pulling details from me. But she didn’t give up on me even when I’d surrendered to misery.
This was really hard on my family. My husband is a gracious man. How he could continue to love a woman who didn’t love herself at the time is beyond me. He gave me time. He gave me space. He showered me with love and understanding. He took care of our kids during the moments that I was unable. Physically, I was there for everything, but I remained at a distance emotionally. He let me cry even when I could not explain myself. He tried to understand when he couldn’t get it. I didn’t understand either, and I blamed myself. I felt guilty for being terrible at being a wife and mother. I felt guilty for holding resentment for things that were not meant to harm me. I was in pain, and I wanted it to go away. I wanted to go away.
Finally, the rights meds were found, and life got better. I was happy again, most of the time. Then, I felt like the meds were a crutch. I wanted to ditch them. My doctor did not advise it. I tried a few times unsuccessfully. I had a void in my life that I couldn’t fill. I was active in my community and in my church. I appeared to have it all together. But I was incomplete and lacked peace.
Then, someone came into my life that was full of love and grace. She became in the form of a pastor’s wife, and she became my friend. She listened to me, prayed for and with me, and supported me. She asked me to try to surrender myself to God instead of misery. One day, the turmoil in my head and heart was so bad, that I threw myself to the floor and asked God for mercy and guidance. It was draining. When I finished I was both emotionally and physically exhausted. But that was my turning point. I started depending on Him to help me. Now, I’d be lying if I said that when I laid it at the foot of the cross I left it because I didn’t. I picked my baggage back up every now and then, and I’d have to remind myself to give it back. I needed my therapist less and less. I weaned off my meds without her knowledge. I would not advise anyone to do this. When I admitted that I’d been off of them for a few months, she was astounded. She wanted to know what the turning point in our therapy had been because she couldn’t pinpoint it, and she was amazed at how I’d suddenly changed my attitude and my life. I told her that though she had been helpful, that welcoming God into every part of my life was what gave me the ability to continue, to change my perspective, and to live.
My friend died a few years ago. I still hadn’t completely worked through all of my issues and perspectives. I hadn’t let go of resentments or learned the art of forgiveness. But I credit her with the push that got me started on a journey that I am enjoying. She taught me that it was ok to be angry with God and to tell Him. And in telling Him, I found the peace that has come within. I was able to find the bigger picture in my experiences. I am able to see the growth in my life. I am not a highly competitive or successful person, but I am content. My life is not perfect and there is the occasional chaos and worry but deep down I have a peace that all is well with my life. I no longer attend church on a regular basis. However, my personal relationship with God is ongoing and strong. I feel I can reach out to Him and He will hear me. Anytime. Anywhere. I’ve learned to let go and let God.
I’ve looked for the good in the worst of circumstances and found these experiences have shaped me into who I have become and who I am still becoming. These situations in my life have become quite small in the big scheme of this thing called my life. It has been in changing my perspective that I’ve allowed peace to envelope me.
I’ve learned that making mistakes doesn’t make me less worthy as long as I learn from them. I’ve learned to take risks in trusting and loving. I’ve learned to accept myself and others for who we are and who we are becoming. I like the place I am at right now. It changes daily as there is so much to decipher and absorb. I’m learning to take each ordinary day and find the extraordinary in it. My heart and soul are currently balanced, secure, and comfortable. I have found home within myself. It’s funny that I’d never found security in my mind, but I trusted my heart. I am having a difficult time finding the distinction between my heart and soul. I now wonder if this balance that I feel between my head and heart is really what comprises my soul.
I don’t claim to have the answers. I am only speaking of what has happened to me. I realize that I could probably make five separate posts from different parts of this single post. I really don’t feel it necessary to go into that much detail. It is still quite painful to revisit. This is probably the most difficult post I’ve written and the most personal information I’ve shared. I do hope that I’ve gotten my point across without the extra information. I know now that depression is a chemical imbalance and there is no shame in asking for help. I hope that if I ever feel myself slipping back into that dreary place that I will reach out for help or that someone close will see it and guide me to the shore.