At the age of 16 I didn’t know how to cope with feeling overwhelmed by negative feelings and shame. Even though I had a normal family life and a Christian upbringing, a darkness consumed my soul. Life seemed too hard so I devised a plan to die.
In college I battled depression again and then again in my 20’s it grew so severe I sought help. I took medication for the first time and felt like a fog surrounded me – the bad feelings went away but so did all my other feelings. My husband and I decided to start our family and in the euphoria of expecting our first child, I thought the dark had finally disappeared so I stopped the medication.
While pregnant with my second child, the darkness returned. I again seriously considered suicide because I believed my kids would be better off raised by someone else. I reached out for help and found a Christian psychologist who tried to convince me God loved me. I struggled to believe him.
When my third child arrived, the depression receded and once again I thought all would be alright. However, as my oldest turned 5, I started experiencing flashbacks of childhood abuse from someone outside my family which led to anxiety attacks. My sanity seemed to be slipping and despair crept in as I wondered if I would lose my mind.
A psychiatrist diagnosed me with cyclical clinical depression and told me I needed medication for the rest of my life. For the next 9 years, I continued with talk therapy and different medications, switching when the effectiveness of each tapered off. During those years, I resigned to the belief I would never really be healed and could only learn to live as a “lesser Christian” because of the consequences of another person’s sinful actions toward me.
Thankfully, that’s not how my story ends.
When the next crisis came, a friend introduced me to a Biblical counselor because she knew we shared a similar history. Growing up in the church, I assumed I understood the Bible, but she explained God’s Word in a way I had never heard. Although her story was far worse than mine, she lived in freedom with joy and purpose. For the first time I had hope.
I met with my counselor individually for about a year and then in a group setting for over four years. As she guided me through God’s Word, His light penetrated my darkness. She taught me God loves me exactly the way I am. I couldn’t be loved more because of good behavior and I would never be loved less because I didn’t measure up. Over and over, the Bible tells us that God loves us, is FOR us and will NEVER forsake us. As I slowly began to internalize these truths the power of shame dissolved.
I also needed to learn how to trust God instead of my feelings. I still remember the first time. One evening near dinnertime I found myself “in the dark” sitting on the couch and checked out. I sensed God nudging me to make dinner for my family. I whined and bargained, elaborating on all my excuses. I finally DRAGGED myself into the kitchen and cooked a “nutritious” meal of grilled cheese sandwiches. We had a wonderful evening and God taught me an important lesson — I bring a tiny offering of obedience and He brings a load of blessing.
I now live with hope, freedom, and joy which stem from this truth: God is for me. His love and grace release the freedom to act in obedience. Dark moments still exist but never for long, and I have been off of medication for many years. I enjoy the privilege of teaching others how God’s truth in His Word provides a way out of the darkness of depression. God set me free and I am confident His Spirit can do the same for all who look to Him.
“But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.” Psalm 13:5