Many may not understand the full struggle one goes through with depression or anxiety. I know I hadn’t a clear idea until I was diagnosed with it myself, now over a year ago. It takes strength to get through every day — every day that is filled with strong feelings of sadness or fear, but there can be no explanation for them. You just feel it. And you can’t turn off the feelings. They are not something that will pass without a thought. They are deeply rooted, and by the time you are aware of their intensity, it’s too big to shake.
Living with someone who has these mood disorders is difficult as well. I can only imagine what strength my husband has to be so patient with me. He is going through this with me, not apart from me. Though I am the one who battles the emotional and chemical imbalances, he is the one, with God, who must be the anchor I can rely on. That takes such courage and strength.
Living with the depression has been something I’ve resisted for so long. I still have trouble accepting that I have these imbalances in my head brought on by giving birth. I often question God’s “working for the good” in all of this. I often look back to my happier self and mourn the person I’ve lost.
The anxiety is annoyingly depressing. Getting the pit in the stomach, the chest get tight, and the heart feeling like it’s out of control is such a physical response that I am worn out by it. Panic attacks affect my energy levels for at least 24 hours. But then, depression does that too, so I’m used to it by now. Oh wait, it’s also my kid who drains my energy! (A much happier reason for energy-drain.)
I am a person of deep feeling. For as long as I can remember, I felt things deeply all the time. As a child it manifested itself in a lot of crying, mostly because my feelings were hurt. As I hit my teens, it was seen in how I related to books, movies, and the people around me. These last few years have been less obvious to those around me, mostly because I’ve learned how to control my reaction to what’s going on in the heart. So when I say that realizing I have depression, I hope you can understand that it’s been so hard getting through this. I’m not saying I have it harder than others, but simply that because I feel deeply, it’s even harder to sift through the feelings and find the truth — the logical truth of my physical imbalances due to childbirth.
There’s always a reason to a feeling, was my philosophy. It’s true, except I had to learn that sometimes that reason is simply: depression. A feeling is nothing but a feeling, it’s not a way of life. Depression has helped me to see how much I viewed feelings as more trustworthy than the mind. I know, don’t listen to the “Trust your feelings, Luke,”. But still, there’s that part of me that believed my feelings.
I am still a believer in emotion. That will never go away. Emotion has an important role in every aspect of life, but not tempered by truth it can become destructive. What is that truth that I am talking about? Well, my basis for truth is what the Bible tells me. And what the Bible tells me as truth is that God didn’t make a mistake with me, that I was knit together in my mom’s womb. The truth is that Jesus didn’t die for everyone but those with depression, but he gave his life for me, and I’m not forgotten. The truth is that we live in a sinful world, and depression is a result of the Fall, it’s not a result of God giving it to me. However, God is using it to show me His love and mercy, His role as Father and His role as Comforter.
Believing these truths instead of listening to the dark, depressive feelings is a daily, hourly job. I fail more often than not to remember them. It takes a lot of mental effort to ignore the negative feelings that creep in, and though I’ve only been actively working on that for a few weeks, I can already see the difference. Why listen to the lies when the truth, written in the Bible, is at your fingertips? Why feel beaten when you are already victorious?