|Image courtesy of Kolesnik Svetlana via 123rf.com|
Another week begins. I groan in despair as the alarm goes off at 5:30 AM. I wish there was some relief, some help, so I wasn't such a required part of everyone's morning. But there is an IV infusion to administer before school for one child, and the other needs a ride to meet her teacher for help before classes start. I glance at my schedule for the day in hopes that I can just crawl back into bed after drop off. I hurt everywhere.
The pain I experience comes courtesy of the liar, depression. It makes me feel physically weak, demeaning me with thoughts questioning whether I am loved, whether I am unlovable, whether I have any personal worth, and whether God even cares. Depression tells me things will never get better. I will always live in poverty; my marriage will never get better; no one will ever catch on and support the vision of our ministry. It tells me garbage like everyone is better than me, smarter than me, more qualified than I am, viewed by others more favorably than I am. It tells me that I am toxic in everything I do and say.
Nonsense like these thoughts are not just an attention-getting pity party. They are a debilitating chemical reaction that occurs in my brain, largely because of my genetics and biology. While there are things I can do to make myself and my depression better, it is a battle I will fight the remainder of my days, just like those living with high blood pressure or diabetes. This is why I have come out of the shadows over the years -- because I realize that depression is an illness just like any other. I certainly would never wish this for myself or anyone else. And few things are more frustrating than willing yourself to feel better, but being unable to make it so.
The good news is that I have found ways to cope with this sometimes paralyzing mood disorder. The number one means of doing so has been to cling to the truth that, "God is real no matter how I feel." Even when my depression has me feeling so low that I want to hurl my Bible across the room, I never stop reading God's word. Because I pour God's truth into me, I can know at my core, beyond a place where my depression can touch, that His promises are infallible. His Word will stand no matter what.
Combined with medication and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), I learned that I can ride out my depressive episodes much like I ride out the misery of a head cold. It feels awful, "But tomorrow will be better," I tell myself in the midst of the storm. I could not do that without the anchor for my soul that God provides through His word. He pushes back all of the lies that depression spews at me with words like:
- You are fearfully and wonderfully made, Barb! (Psalm 139:14)
- I have numbered every hair on your head. (Matthew 10:30)
- I delight in you, Barb! (Zephaniah 3:17)
- I have big plans for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
- I guide your every step. (Isaiah 30:21)
- I am your protector. (Psalm 12:5-7)
- Nothing is too hard for me, Barb. (Jeremiah 32:27)
- I cannot lie and I never change. You can be secure in me. (Hebrews 6: 16-20)
- I will wipe away every tear and give you an amazing new future. (Revelation 21:3-7)
October 4 - 10, 2015 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and World Mental Health Day is on October 10, 2015. "Dignity in mental health" is this year's theme.