Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I'm NOT Alright

Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the trouble we suffered in Asia. We had great burdens there, which were greater than our own strength. We even gave up hope for life.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:8, ERV ~

It annoys many people and causes others to gossip -- my "letting it ALL hang out" approach to life.  I have gone out of my way live in a very transparent way, ugly and messy as it can get, both in person and on social media in order that I might make it safe for others.  Not everybody has the wherewithal to expose their weaknesses in a very public way, so I charge forward on their behalf.  My openness began several years ago, after the birth of my second child.  I finally started revealing to others that I have struggled through an agonizing lifetime of chronic depression.  While it had been debilitating for years, I finally agreed at one point to accept the help of medication, which I would contend saved my life and the lives of those stuck living with me.  

To understand the present, I need to take you back to the past.  Genetics has long been suspected in the origins of depression, and my family is no exception.  I was raised in an extremely dysfunctional and emotionally abusive situation, with one person close to me having a long history of anxiety, depression and prescription drug abuse.  Couple that inherited predisposition with never having learned sound coping skills, and I was bound to have challenges.  Always having an aversion to medications because of the drug abuse in the family, I was willing to participate in psychotherapy, but spent years refusing medication.

As so often happens in stories like this, I had to hit rock bottom before I would finally accept help.  Yes, I had willingly gone for therapy for some time, but things didn't drastically improve until I had that coupled with medication.  It was like putting a floor under my free fall.  And I couldn't even approach the notion of medication until I was literally at the end of my rope.

Ironically, one of the very things that would continue to tax me emotionally ended up being the lifesaver that helped me step towards medication -- my son being diagnosed with special needs.  I had so little support around me.  And 8 months into the special needs journey, my mother-in-law unexpectedly died after bypass surgery.  Having to fly to meet my husband for the memorial with a newborn and a 3 year old was enough, but having an in-law privately drag me away from the family and verbally slaughter me over our baby's diagnosis was more than any human can bear.  I finally said "YES!" to the help of psychotropic pharmaceuticals.

Since that time, I would tell you that my depressive episodes still occur.  I am more vulnerable than the average person to becoming emotionally overwhelmed or neurologically overtaxed.  However, I am now at a point in my journey where I can usually recognize those episodes as uncomfortable, much in the same way I would describe a cold.  I may feel miserable, but I know it will pass.  That mindset is a tremendous blessing because pre-medication, I struggled to ever see the light at the end of the tunnel.  My depressive thoughts were reality.  Post-medication, I finally had the ability to challenge those thoughts or at least ride them out knowing they were faulty, until they passed.

Does this mean that I'm finally fully recovered?  Absolutely not.  When I'm nearing a meltdown, my friends will more than likely see me share Sanctus Real's "I'm Not Alright" on my Facebook page.  While the group more than likely intended the song for a younger audience, so many of the lyrics resonate with me in a depressive state:

Burn away the pride
Bring me to my weakness
'til everything I hide behind is gone
And when I'm open wide with nothing left to cling to
Only You are there to lead me on.

'Cause honestly, I'm not that strong.

I'm not alright, I'm broken inside
Broken inside
And all I go through, it leads me to You
It leads me to You*

No, I'm not alright.  I am a broken creature living in a broken world.  But He is not broken, so I lean into Jesus in my weakness.  Parenting children with special needs only makes this battle all the more fierce.  There are many more things that can add to that depression or trigger depressive episodes for moms like me.  Yet, when I am willing to admit that I'm not that strong, I leave room for God to work.  He loves me just as I am, and He can use this illness to reflect His glory.
PRAY:  Lord, you have seen my despair and sadness.  Yet, you do not condemn, but comfort.  Thank You for loving me as I am.  Hold me close and keep me safe in my depression.  I am so grateful that I am not alone in this.


  1. Had no idea, Barb, but it makes a lot of sense now why I appreciate and get you the way I do. I struggle with depression too, and only just recently shared about it on my site. It's a good thing to be honest and I know it sets many free to face and move through their dark places because of the example you set. Thanks for being a role-model and friend. Big hugs!!

  2. Thank you! I am so refreshed to know I am not the only one with a messy family life! We need God so desparately. The truth stes us free... Thank you for sharing. I hope to give you a big hug at the Access Conference. (Walking away...mumbling..oh, i am not alone, i am not alone in this craziness! hbh)