You know those moments when you can see the reason for the why of things so clearly looking backwards?
The moments you can see so clearly God’s goodness and faithfulness in a story that only felt bad at the time?
I believe we’re all meant to share our stories. I’m not anyone special, I’m just willing. It helps us as we go through the hard stuff and the mess. It helps someone else by encouraging and inspiring them as they walk similar paths or face similar struggles. But ultimately, when we share our stories, it allows others to see God at work in our lives and it brings him glory.
So. Here we go y’all. This is the part of my story of dealing with depression, isolation and the lies I believed about myself and how I’m overcoming it now.. This is the story about what I thought were the hardest and worst year and months of my life but I can see now how blessed I am to have had them.
I would say that almost since I turned 30 (I can’t believe that was nine years ago) Bart and I have had change after change after change. And the funny thing is – God told me it was coming! After being married for seven years and struggling with infertility from the beginning of our marriage, we became parents through adoption in 2009. (This part of our journey has been one I have shared openly in the past. ) A little after a year from Brennan being born, we had another major change and moved to the midwest. Two years later we moved to Texas. Almost two years later we went through our second and really hard adoption with True. Eight months later we were blessed with our “bonus adoption” with the birth of Hayes. And immediately following that, God moved us back to Memphis. Full circle full of changes within 5 years time. I now also suddenly had two babies that were only eight months apart. Let’s not miss that friend… EIGHT MONTHS!
So let’s just say I was tired.
Then this is what I believe was the final catalyst for my year and half or so of living alone in a dark pit. Months after moving back we discovered I had thyroid cancer. I quickly underwent two surgeries. A few months after all of this, my Dad died. Now – this wasn’t the typical grief a girl has when her Dad passes because I didn’t have a healthy or consistent relationship with him. But there was grief. And after the grief I began a process of reevaluating everything I thought about myself and everything I believed God thought about me.
During that process, I realize now I had become depressed. I think finally after so much back to back major change and then, I would say, after the trauma of surgeries and cancer and the death of a parent my brain and my spirit were just plain spent.
I didn’t know that I was doing it, but I would isolate myself more and more from family and friends and even my husband.
I think I’ve always been a pretty balanced introvert/extrovert. But I very quickly became a complete introvert. Not wanting to go to any of the women’s events at my church – using the excuse that I didn’t know anyone. I wouldn’t make plans with my friends. And then when I would go places like church or events, it was like I completely forgot how to be social. The enemy jumped on this and took these struggles I was having and ran with them. He would whisper things like “you don’t even know how to make friends anymore” and “Why go to that thing when you don’t know anyone – you’ll be all alone and everyone else will be talking and hanging out with each other.”
Y’all… I am almost 40 years old. And I felt like a middle school girl at a new school in the lunch cafeteria having no one to sit with. Seriously! This was a daily battle.
It’s now April 2018. I can actually say that I have come out of the gray fog (in my mind that’s what it felt like).
I feel like it’s important to share this part of my story for so many reasons. There are so many people who suffer from some form of depression and don’t realize it. Mine was mild and it came on very subtly. I blamed myself and had tremendous guilt for my behavior but I couldn’t do anything to change it. I thought I was just a bad mom because I didn’t want to go anywhere, or that I was just too lazy to do anything. It’s important that when you’re going through this you know you aren’t alone! You didn’t do anything to bring this on and you aren’t a bad person for admitting out-loud that you are going through it.
For some reason in our world there is such stigma attached to anxiety and depression. I felt all of these things and on top of that heap of lies was the pressure I felt from my husband being in ministry. The wife of a pastor shouldn’t be depressed, right? She should know so much about scripture and be so close to God that this doesn’t effect her (more lies that come from the enemy). I battled with feeling like everyone expected my faith to be so strong that I could just turn those feelings off.
I’ll share more about my process of healing and how I believe I got out of the dark hole. But for now I want to leave you with this… those lies I believed, the thoughts I thought others were thinking about me or would think about me if they knew what I was going through weren’t even true. Once I finally began to open up and share more about what I was going through, not only were people supportive and encouraging but I also began to feel better more and more each time I opened up with someone and let them in. We are not meant to carry this all on our own.
Think about it this way… when I started to become depressed I would isolate myself from others. I choose to be alone but I was sad because I felt all alone. I felt like no one else understood or cared and therefore I got even more depressed.
We have to choose to do the hard thing – the thing we most do not want to do – and let someone in the hurt with us. Usually it takes the hard to bring something so good.
I’m sharing this because I know when I opened up on my blog before about my struggle with infertility, it was so hard to do. BUT, I would get emails or comments from someone who was going through something similar. And they felt encouraged just by simply reading someone else’s similar story and how God brought them through it.
And I’m sharing this with you because it was this time that brought me to where I’m at now with my art. My painting has been like a therapy for me.
It’s my prayer that someone reading this will be blessed and encouraged by at least knowing that your not alone in these feelings.