The World Health Organization estimates that about 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression; in the United States alone there are 14.8 million people who are afflicted with this illness. When one lives in a fallen world is it any wonder that so many people suffer from this disorder? Day after day the news keeps us apprised of all that plagues are world–shootings, stabbings, suicide, rape, and death.
There are a great many reasons why one my become depressed: chemical imbalance; genetics; medications; medical problems; past physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; or family history. Many don’t understand depression, it’s not something you can just will away or just, get over it–I wish it were that easy.
Our brains are no different than another any other part of our body–heart, liver, lungs, etc.–and just like any other part of our body the brain may become ill. So why is there such a stigma attached to mental illness? I don’t know, perhaps a lack of knowledge.
There are times when everyone faces a bought with melancholy–sadness, forlornness, or woefulness. Depression goes why beyond melancholy…it’s just plain hard!
Depression can make dragging yourself out of bed in the morning near impossible…it can make you wish you could hang a sign over your head that reads “NO TRESPASSING”…and it can make you want to sleep the day away… and the next and the next. It can suck the life right out of you–making you feel barren and stark, battered and beaten, weathered and worn, drained and defeated.
We worry, what will people think, if we dare whisper its name…depression? If we do muster the courage to tell someone that we are experiencing depression we act as if it’s no more serious than a common cold—give it a few days and it will go away–ONLY IT WON’T!
Oh we want to be thankful, content in every circumstance as Paul tell us to be. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11. But we are not, not when we are wearing the mantle of despair–it weighs heavy and blurs our perspective.
We feel like God has abandoned us on the doorsteps of life. We ask, “Where are you God?” We hear no answer–or at least we think we don’t. It has shown up on my doorstep (uninvited) let itself in, overstayed its welcome, and slipped out the backdoor only to sneak back in through an open window–on far to many occasions. Always hovering like a thick dark fog. At times waning to a mist, but always present…waiting to pounce. Always stealing that which does not belong to it–Life. Snaking in and out, striking at will–its venom harming not only us, but our families as well.
I’m not a theologian or a medical doctor, therefore, what I write about depression come’s solely from my experience. I have battled depression on and off since I was in my early twenties. At times I was acutely aware of its presence, other times not. Over the years I’ve been on medication to manage the depression and life continued to roll on. However, even with the medication, I was always chronically tired and fatigued. I had come to believe that physical exhaustion was my normal and something I just had to live with.
In the fall of 2012, high levels of stress and constant business brought my depression to an all time high–burning the candle at both ends for far too long had finally caught up with me. My fast paced, over extended lifestyle only intensified my depression. God had been whispering to me for over two years to cut back on my volunteer work outside the home–I refused to obey. I had an idol and it was called “people pleasing” I feared man more than God. I feared what people would say or think if I cut back on my serving. That fall God, He’d had enough of my disobedience and depression was the device He used to break the chains of idolatry. He turned up the heat on my exhaustion until I surrendered my will to His. I gave up all my outside volunteer work, I paid a visit to my physician (she was able to tweak my medication), I and my family pulled back for a time of renewal, and I learned that God was the only one I needed to please–obey.
I believe God allowed the depression to persist and increase to get my attention, to show me who I needed to obey. Although it was one of the most difficult periods of my life, I am thankful for the instrument of depression that the Lord used to get my attention. Obeying God and changing my medication resulted in my feeling better than I’d felt in years. In the last two years I’ve grown closer to God and I’m experiencing peace, joy, and renewed energy. The Lord loves us too much to allow us to remain in our sinful nature.
If anyone reading this blog is experiencing the kind of depression that I described above, I want to encourage you to pay a visit to your doctor. Sometimes we grew so used to feeling bad that we don’t remember what it feels like to be well. Listen to the Lord’s voice and obey His Words. Get as much sunlight and physical exercise as you can–please seek help.
Count Blessings, Kasey