Depression: Not Just "The Blues"

 

The room was dark and I could hear the steady breathing of my friend sleeping in her bed across the room. While she lay there peacefully, I turned fitfully, tormented by the thought that the world would be so better off I didn't exist.

Why not end it all? Why bother with this existence when all I did was mess up again and again?

Then like a bolt of lightening striking my heart, my tears of despair turned to tears of joy. "Because I love you!" was God's answer to my pleas. "I love you, dear child, and I have a plan for your life. You are not an accident and you would be missed if you were not here."

Those words, although not spoken out loud but heard only in my heart, brought me so much comfort and joy I couldn't help but waken my friend. "God loves me!" I told her. I have no idea what she thought about this, but to me it was quite a revelation.

Although I was only 14, I had suffered from depression for years. It was the first of many times I would seriously consider suicide, and God's grace and mercy saved my life.

As I would mature, that evening's revelation of God's love would help pull me through some of the deepest darkest moments of depression. Most days I could function without people sensing the self-doubt, perilously low self-esteem, anxiety, and sense of helplessness that I had been living with almost since I could remember.

I would say I lived with a moderate level of depression on a daily basis. Then I would have "episodes" that could last from a few hours to a few weeks to months of darkness.

In the pits of that depression no one could say anything to bring me out. The sky could be radiantly bright, but I honestly could not see it. Things almost literally looked dark and I could only see the negative side of everything. Even when people tried to point out the "bright side," I could not understand it. Only the darkness was real.

It was at those times when death seemed like the only way out. I credit God with saving me at those times because even though I did not understand why, and it was really hard to believe, I could not shake the certain knowledge that He still loved me, as terrible as I felt I was.

My life continued in this pattern until I read a brief list of signs of depression. I began to cry when I realized I fit so many of them. I went to a free depression screening at our local hospital and watched a video in which people with depression described their disease, what their life was like and how it had changed after getting help.

Again, I cried. There was a name for what I had been experiencing! I wasn't alone! I wasn't a failure for not having been able to pray the darkness away!

I saw my doctor and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. It was a relief, but also a frightening experience. Since then, I have been taking a medication that has radically change my life, and the life of my family.

I still have difficult moments and down days like everyone else, but now I can cope with them. With God's love, mercy, and grace I can handle life's ups and downs without completely falling apart and feeling like a total failure. This difference has brought untold blessings to my marriage and family as my husband and children were suffering greatly from my depression.

If you or anyone you know shows any symptoms of depression, please encourage them to seek help. I have found a web site on depression that has excellent information and resources if you would like more information. (www.depression.com)

Please pray for a better understanding of all mental illness and for compassion and mercy toward those who suffer from them.

There are many types of depression. Some symptoms of depression are:

  • Abnormal sleep pattern, including insomnia or the need to sleep a lot. Sleep may be restless.
  • Fatigue, lack of motivation, and decreased interest in usual activities.
  • Chronic pain, such as headaches or back pain. This pain is real, not imaginary.
  • Irritability leading to impatience, outbursts of anger, or rage. Even small stresses are difficult to handle.
  • Anxiety, nervousness, panic attacks, or severe agitation.
  • Sadness or a sense that something is wrong. Tearfulness and crying are common.
  • Difficulty making decisions, thinking clearly, or concentrating.
  • Increase or decrease in appetite. Cravings for sweets or chocolate are not unusual.
  • Diminished interest in sex.
  • Negative thoughts or excessive guilt; insecurity, self-consciousness, and dependence on others.
  • Thoughts of death.

 

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