It was more than just the dark circles under my eyes. It was more than the multiple scares of nodding off behind the wheel at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It was more than waking up in the morning feeling completely exhausted and telling myself to push through it. It was more than the weekly refrain from others: “You look really tired.”
There was definitely something wrong. I was becoming someone I didn’t recognize.
I was mad at myself for feeling so lazy, for not being able to function, for not being able to push through. I hated looking in the mirror with blood shot eyes staring back at me. Something just wasn’t right. After two years of everything getting progressively worse, I couldn’t take it any longer.
After months of blood tests and sleep tests, my doctor still couldn’t find anything wrong. So she finally urged me to see a psychiatrist. At this point, I didn’t care who I needed to see. I just wanted to figure it out. But I fully expected my visit with the psychiatrist to just be another dead end.
“You are suffering from a moderate case of depression.”
I called my husband to let him know I would be home late, because I was waiting in line for my prescription.
“Yeah, they put me on a new prescription.”
I quickly changed the subject to what time he would like to go out for sushi (something he had been looking forward to all week). I’m sure he knew. But we didn’t talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about it over the phone. I didn’t want to talk about it at all.
The cashier told me a pharmacist would be over to explain my medication. With as genuine of a smile as I could muster, I let her know that wasn’t necessary. I didn’t want the pharmacist to say it out loud.
My drive home was spent in silence. I wish I could say I spent it in prayer or thinking through things. But I didn’t. I just drove in silence. I didn’t want to have to process what this meant. I didn’t want to decide who I would tell and how I would tell them.
I walked into the bedroom where my husband was relaxing after a long week of work. I sat on the edge of the bed and began taking off my shoes.
“They said I have depression.”
As soon as I felt his arms wrap around me, I lost it. The tears wouldn’t stop. There were no words. Just the warmth and comfort of his embrace. I wanted to stay there forever.
“We’ll get through this. One step at a time.”
As I lay in his arms crying, I thanked God for my husband. It was his words that made me realize that I didn’t have to process everything at once. I really can just take it one step at a time.
I also felt a sigh of relief, because now there was an answer.
For the last two years I just thought I was crazy. When you tell people you’re tired, they think it’s the same type of tired we all experience. And so they brush it off. What I was experiencing is so much different than not getting enough sleep. It completely drained me of all my energy and desire to do anything. I didn’t know how to explain it to anyone. But now I have an answer and a way to start a journey of being healthy.
This is all very new for me and very new for us as a couple. We are still navigating how to continue on this daily journey of restoration and what it looks like to cling to Christ in the midst of something I don’t fully understand.
The truth is that depression has altered a large part of my life–a large part of who I am. The symptoms are both behavioral and physical. Outside of just learning more about what depression is and how it affects me, I have learned two major things.
1. Depression is not a lack of faith.
If someone is struggling with depression, it doesn’t mean they have a lack of trust in God. I refuse to let this lie take root in my life.
Depression is a combination of biological and psychological factors. It’s a kind of distress you cannot control. If you know someone suffering from depression, please do not even suggest that they lack faith. First off, it’s simply not biblical. Secondly, it’s just not helpful.
2. Depression does not give me a free pass.
Perhaps the hardest part of dealing with depression is seeing how it affects my husband. We have had a few really tough moments that, if it weren’t for depression, we probably never would have encountered.
Certainly, there is an element where my husband needs to be understanding and supportive. And for the most part, he does this really well. I am truly grateful.
But there is also an element where I still have to check how I’m responding or acting. My depression does not give me a free pass to treat him however I feel. Insofar as I’m able to control it, I have a responsibility to my husband and to our marriage.
We are very fresh into this journey and I am probably not as educated on this topic as I should be. But one thing I know: this is not too big for Christ.
Though I don’t understand it and I would rather it not be me, I know that God doesn’t often call us into something easy. But God always calls us into something beautiful.
I am reminded of the truth that Paul said to the Corinthian church. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away [which is exactly how I feel], our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18a)
I am clinging to the One whom my soul can trust and the One whom has brought me through far more difficult situations. I know God will use this journey for something far greater than me.
What’s Your Experience?
What has been your experience with mental health, whether personally or with someone you love? What have you found helpful?
Leave us a comment!