Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Story

Tomorrow I'm posting the first in the series of stories about depression. I'm hoping to make this a regular feature on Thursdays. If you have contacted me about sharing your story, I encourage you to follow through and write it up. What has been shared with me so far has been absolutely amazing and I so believe that adding your voice to the discussion is going to be a huge benefit not only to those who feel like they are struggling alone, but to you as well.

All that said, I wanted to share my story with you folks.

For me, depression wasn't something that I ever struggled with until my first pregnancy. I was newly married, living in a new city, starting a new job and I found out I was pregnant. I spent most of my pregnancy happy that I was having a baby, but battling darkness behind the scenes. I was a terrible teacher to my students because it was really difficult for me to muster up the motivation to really do my job. I cried a lot. It wasn't pretty.

Photo by jonasj
Honestly, I thought most of it related to my job that I didn't like, so I didn't think much about it.

Two years later, I was pregnant again. Same thing. Even though we had been a part of a church community for a few years, I still felt very lonely. No close friends to speak of. The depression was far worse this time. I did almost nothing that wasn't absolutely essential. I overreacted to everything. When my son was born, I sunk even lower, with almost everything setting me off. I would spend most of my time in Bible study crying or wanting to cry. Even when we switched churches, there was little relief.

What helped at that time was a group of women. We were all from different churches in the area, but spent one day a week visiting, letting our kids play together, encouraging one another and just generally having a good time. These were the first really close friends that I'd had since college and it was just incredibly powerful to me. That group of women absolutely saved my life.

I struggled with depression through all of my pregnancies, but my close friendship with these women and particularly with my friend Julia really helped temper it a good bit. When I felt myself slipping into depression, I would turn to friends for comfort. Just talking about it was a huge help to me.

My next real battle came in early 2007, when we went through a truly horrible season at our then church (I wrote about some of that back then, you can check the archives for the back story as that would take WAY too long to write out). The depression that came this time was hard and crippling again. This was the first time that I opted to seek medical help in addition to counseling. The meds helped me get to a place of equilibrium so that the counseling was better able to make sense to my addled brain.

What I've noticed every time that I've dealt with depression is an incredible sense of loneliness. I could be surrounded by people who loved me, and it just didn't matter. I could still feel completely isolated.

What helped was people showing me that I wasn't alone. That I'm not alone. Yes, I know that with God I'm never alone. And when I'm in my right mind, that's easier to believe. But when the fog of depression clouds my mind? Not so much. Having someone there saying, "I love you. I care about you. I'm not going anywhere." Those things (coupled with meds & counseling) have been what have helped me get through. What helps me get through right now. I cannot thank enough the people who have offered their support to me during depression. Who have kept me from crawling into my little hidey-hole. Who have hugged me and let me slobber all over them. And who have done all of that without judging me.

If you're dealing with depression, please know that you're not alone. If there's not someone in your life you want to talk to, shoot me an email and I'll call you. Seriously. You're not alone.

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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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