Sunday, April 7, 2013
My story dealing with bouts of Depression
I have decided to share my personal experience with depression as a result of Pastor Rick Warren losing his son through suicide. My prayers and condolences go to him and his family and loved ones.
Personally, I have always had depression in my life, and I assumed it was normal for people to go through depression as that was all I knew. It wasn't until after my second suicide attempt which left me in a coma for 5 days, and in the hospital for a month, that I realized it was an illness.
Depression wasn't a feeling I had. It was more of a state of being. One minute everything would be okay, and the next, I would suddenly feel like all my errors, mistakes and failures (real and imagined) were center stage, and life had no more appeal. It almost was like a "woe is me" state of awareness. Typically I would stay in bed all day and daydream or fantasize about life until the wave subsided. Doing this as a child made me reclusive and a homebody. As an adult, I had learned to go with the flow, but there were moments when the pessimistic wave was just too overwhelming to ride, and I would try various routes to escape it - sex, drugs, etc. Sometimes it worked; other times it didn't. When it didn't and I got caught up in the tide, suicide was the next route. My life seemed to be a constant attempt at riding the wave of depression whenever it showed up, and doing everything not to get caught up in it. I even became skilled at knowing when it was looming in the horizon. I would immediately start putting my resources and escape plans in place so I could ride it out.
I know this sounds insane for anyone to think of annihilating themselves, but I'm just keeping it real and sharing my past. The first time the idea of suicide sprung in my mind, it was immediately rejected. But it kept coming back, and finally I entertained it. It seemed to promise an escape from an inner pain and turmoil that no one could understand or sympathize with. I couldn't explain my feelings like I can now because I was young and emotionally fractured then. Somehow suicide promised a bliss from an inner torment. I felt like I was a nuisance and a waste to this life, and getting rid of myself was doing this world and myself a favor. A completely twisted and demented processing of things, but in the throe of depressions pangs, it made perfect sense.
I am fortunate enough to have done 3 major attempts, and somehow lived to tell (with the scars to show for it). And I wasn't unaware of Jesus Christ either during the 3 times. So the question stems, how could I know that Jesus saves, and still opt for self annihilation? For me, when the cycle of depression showed up, it started with a loneliness and coldness inside. I couldn't connect or empathize with anyone, and I would withdraw into my alternate inner realm. Somehow it seemed even Jesus appeared not to understand what I was going through because the gloom and doom persisted even after praying and being prayed for. So I would withdraw from God too, and be a cold lonely and fractured child cowering in a corner feeling pity and hatred for my pathetic life. Then the seduction of suicide would show up, and after trying several times to escape it, I would eventually fall prey to it.
So how did I overcome this, or do I still struggle with it?
First of all, let me say that I did try medication and maybe I wasn't patient enough to go through the program to find the right dose for me, or maybe I just hated the "emotional zombie" state it put me in. Either way it didn't work for me so I rejected anti depressants, and opted to just have faith. This almost cost me my life twice! So I would advice and encourage anyone suffering from depression to keep an open mind regarding medication. Do not allow church folks to meander you away from meds with their dogma and rhetoric.
Anyway, I had to learn that just because I have Jesus in my life, and I am a demon-casting believer, it doesn't mean I won't have moments of gloom and doom. David said in Psalm 23 "Even though I go through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil". There has to be a knowing that regardless of how gnawing the dread and melancholy is, it is but a shadow - albeit an affecting one.
When those moments showed up, I had to meditate on the word and not focus on the state I was in. It was a hard thing to do. Some days, I would coil up in bed, crying and unable to open my bible, and all I did was call out "Jesus" over and over. I knew Proverbs 18:10 said "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe". I also knew the Holy Spirit made intercession for me, so if all I could do was cry and moan and call Jesus, that was fine by me. That was my routine for a while, and it got me through some dire moments. Then I got more grounded in the word and knew how to speak the word to my feelings and my state of being. Sometimes, when I used the word to speak to those feelings, they dissipated; other times they didn't. But I had to learn that I am defined by the word, not depression and its mood swings. That knowledge is what kept me, and keeps me even to this day. I know my sanity and well being depends on the word of God, so I don't really have the luxury of not applying the word daily to my life. When David the psalmist talks about how the word is life to him, or brings joy to him, I completely understand. If there is anyone in the bible I identify the most with, it is David. I see a dysfunctional man, who had some deep deep moments of gloom and despair, and he learned to cry out to God, and to worship God through his moments, and depended on the word of God as the deer pants for the water brooks after being dry and parched from a ravaging thirst.
Do the "woe is me" feelings attempt to rise up once a while, of course. And that is why I am equipped with the word, so when moments like that show up, I can encourage myself in the word. Sometimes, it immediately breaks the feelings of woe; sometimes it doesn't, but I thank God that he has been gracious and merciful to me so much so that, I simply cast myself to him. Sometimes I may have to switch off my phone and just have a vacation with me, myself and I, along with my favorite movie, or cuisine, and I just chill by myself and acknowledge who I am in the word. Some people may find a different resource in dealing with their moments. Whatever it is, do it while embracing the presence of God in your life. And there is nothing to be ashamed or inferior about just because you have moments when you feel "woe is me".
Find someone to talk to if you have bouts of depression and you can't figure out how to process and handle it. And more especially, if you have idle fantasies about suicide, even if you believe you will never attempt it, the very fact that the idea is hovering in the periphery of your mind suggests you should talk to someone.
And for the accusers and stone throwers who say "just believe in Jesus and pray and it will all work out", or "quit being lazy and get over it"......just shut up. Have some compassion. Regarding Jesus, Matthew 12:20 says, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out". So if you don't understand, shut up until you do; don't bruise an already broken person.
God bless you all, and I pray this ministers life to whoever needs it.