I felt alone. With a new baby. Four kids under six. New town, new church, and I had quit my job.
I thought I could fight it myself. Thought I could overcome it on my own. But I couldn’t.
And so I fought, endlessly, with tears, being defeated time and time again. For 18 months.
I had no clue what depression was. What it could do to me. How it could change my view of myself. But it did.
I remember in college having a friend tell me she suffered from depression and me being completely ignorant.
I used to think she just wanted sympathy attention. I used to think her life wasn’t stressful and she had no reason to be sad.
But depression is much more than sadness.
And until I struggled with it myself, I’m ashamed to say I was unsympathetic, and completely ignorant.
You can’t just “pray it away” or read happy Bible verses and expect it to get better. I used to think that when some people became depressed it was because they had grown away from God. That they just needed to spend more time in the Word. That they needed to pray more, or go to church more. That if they would just count their blessings, then they could see that there was no reason for them feeling depressed. But depression doesn’t work that way. Just like a diabetic person won’t just “get better” by praying and reading their Bible, me reading happy Scriptures isn’t going to just make me happy.
It is a true illness. It took me 18 months to realize that what I was fighting was an actual sickness. Something that I couldn’t just “get over” on my own. It’s no different from meningitis or strep throat. If you are diagnosed with one of those, then you can bet you will probably go to the doctor, or try to find treatment so your body can heal and recover. Depression is the same. It needs treatment. Treatment can be different for each person fighting it.
Loneliness is real. I was surrounded by people. I lived in a house with five others. There were people around me, but I wasn’t present. I didn’t tell people. Didn’t talk about it. Kept it bottled inside. I put on a happy face and dealt with my depression inwardly. Alone.
Unworthy became how I looked at myself. Unworthy of my husband, unworthy of my kids, unworthy of my friends, unworthy to have any kind of happiness. A failure. It seemed that everything I tried to do was impossible. Even the little things like reading to my kids or cooking mac ‘n cheese.
You just can’t. No matter how hard you try. You might want to get out of bed before 11 a.m. But you can’t. Might want to cook a good meal. But you can’t. You might want to excercise, to play with your kids, to make friends. But you can’t. But it’s much deeper than a lack of motivation.
It can result from a tragedy and accompany grief, but it doesn’t have to. My depression didn’t come after my miscarriage. It didn’t come after our family lost a loved one. It didn’t come after I gave birth to a sick baby. My depression came during a time of my life that wasn’t stressful or traumatic or empty. But I still felt empty. That may have been one of the hardest things for me. Is deep down knowing that I should feel thankful, but no matter how hard I tried, I only felt empty.
Sometimes your body hurts. This may have just been me. They were probably phantom pains. But they prevented me from living life. They gave me an excuse to stay in bed longer. An excuse to stay home and not meet people.
And there is so much more. The triggers, guilt, shame, and denial. Depression is much bigger than anything I could write.
I overcame. Here I am now, two years later. I have sat down to write this post countless times over the past two years but I just couldn’t.
I’m not sure why now. Why I have the courage now. But I pray deep down that if any of you who have read this and are dealing with depression, that maybe just maybe this post can help you feel less alone.
Maybe it can help you find your own courage to fight back. To find treatment. To talk to a friend.
I pray that any of you who have not experienced this will show grace and love to any friends you know who are fighting this illness. That you will pray for them. Listen to them. And maybe take them a meal or ask if you can help in some way.
Because sometimes, those small things are a glimmer of light for someone who is living in darkness.
Originally published on the author’s blog