I came to know the Lord when I was thirteen years old. I continued to attend church and Bible study through high school; however, I never developed the deep roots that ground one’s faith for the trials in life. I went to college, but was not involved in a church. I met my husband and we married after we graduated. My husband is a Christian as well; we grew up in church together. Throughout this time, I can remember several instances where I questioned my faith and always seemed to have this nagging concern that I wasn’t truly saved. I thought you had to have a particular “feeling” to know for sure.
Fast forward a number of years to 2005. I am happily married with a wonderful son who is five years old and a 10 year career with the same company as an engineer. We attend church on a regular basis but I realize in retrospect that I am still a “baby” Christian with no firm foundation. An opportunity presents itself at work for me to become a manager. It seems like the right thing to do even though I will be a first-time manager in a group that I have no direct experience with and will be managing 15 employees.
I very much have an “A” type of personality, which means I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. I start out with lots of energy but quickly become overwhelmed. I make expansive lists of things I need to do and learn in order to get up to speed. I begin working longer and longer hours with no breaks for lunch. I begin to have trouble sleeping and constantly feel anxious about work. Things feel very chaotic and out of control.
My son is only five at the time so I also struggle with the guilt of being away from him and my husband. There is no balance in my life. As I come home in the evenings, I break down sobbing to my husband about the job and the huge mistake I made. I lose weight and my sleeping problem continues to worsen to the point that I am only getting a few hours of sleep a night and eventually none at all. I don’t realize that these are all signs of severe anxiety and depression. I feel panicked every day and just want to run away. I reach a point after only three months where I know I need to quit the manager’s position for my own health and sanity as well as for my family’s well being.
Thankfully, the Lord was at work in the midst of the chaos (For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. 1 Corinthians, 14:33). He was orchestrating events and putting people in the right places to care for and help me. I could have easily been fired. However, my VP at the time said that family was most important and there would be plenty of time for career later. He allowed me to move back to my old group. I thought I would feel a sense of relief after making the decision, but I was still struggling with overwhelming anxiety, sadness and despair. I was embarrassed and felt I had let the company and my co-workers down.
Depression also leaves you feeling helpless and worthless. Things that normally would have been easy become insurmountable hurdles. Just getting out of bed each morning to go to work was difficult. I received a lot of support from my co-workers many of whom were Christians. A very good Christian friend in the group would check on me several times a day, take me to lunch, listen to how I was feeling and encourage me.
I had to confess my struggles to my manager and director at the time. They were both supportive, emphasizing my contributions to the group were important and I was valued. Again, the Lord was at work.
My struggles were impacting our whole family including my husband. His boss recognized something was wrong and my husband opened up. It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. His wife had also had issues with depression after the birth of their second child. He was able to refer me to her psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with major clinical depression and was able to prescribe medication.
As the medication began to work and as I gradually felt better, the Lord began working in me. I began to read my Bible – actually read it and study it. The Lord began speaking to me clearly and gave me two special verses to help me in my recovery – Romans 8:28 (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”) and Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”). I began attending a women’s Bible Study at work and became involved in a marketplace ministry. I began praying on a regular basis.
The psychiatrist also prescribed exercise as a way to combat depression. I had never been very active and wasn’t sure how to begin. It turned out that a woman who lived across the street from me at the time was a trainer in our area. She and I were the same age and had children the same age. We immediately hit it off and started training together on a regular basis. I still train with her today as she is one of my close friends. She is also a devout Christian and I believe the Lord put her in my life at just the right time.
I found out later depression runs in my father’s family as several members have been impacted by it. I will most likely have a life long struggle with depression since I am genetically predisposed. But I know the signs to look for and most importantly, I know the Lord will see me through it. I also learned my faith is not based on emotions. I am saved by grace, having assurance of my salvation based on God’s word and the fact that I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. This can’t be altered no matter how I may “feel.”
*Note: The author’s name is a pseudonym.