As you all have been reading this blog of late, you may or may not have picked up on the fact that these last several months have been really tough for me. In the early months of this pregnancy I struggled with a vicious bout of depression. Even though I knew that the reason I felt the way I did was simply because of my hormones and the crazy things they like to do, I still couldn’t get past the feelings of despair that plagued me daily. This has gotten better in recent weeks, but I still have “gray days” occasionally when I can feel a gray Curtain falling around me and I am utterly cut off from any signs of life and hope. I had trouble writing or talking about how I felt then, but I’d like to try to communicate now just how hard life was for me. One reason I want to write about my depression is so that someone else could know that they are not alone and that there are others- yes, even Christians- who have felt this same thing.
There is no way to gauge when it started or even how it all started, but one day I found myself in a blackness that felt impenetrable. I couldn’t feel the way I knew I should feel. I couldn’t love the way I wanted to. I couldn’t bear to wake up in the morning and I hated going to bed because I knew that morning was coming and I did not want to live another hopeless day.
I remember many times when I could not even form a coherent prayer and all my heart could utter was, “Father, please help me just to be alive right now.” I remember feeling so ashamed of the different thoughts that would run through my head. Thoughts telling me that I was a terrible mother and that my children and husband would be better off if I were dead. Thoughts that said there was no way I could handle having this next baby and wondering if it would be better if I miscarried. These thoughts were always the worst during the day when the kids were acting up and dirty dishes were still sitting in the sink from breakfast and Joshua wouldn’t be home from work for another five hours. Those were dark days. There were many times I didn’t think I would ever make it through. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for me. And I was so alone in that darkness. I did know enough to never act on my feelings. Even on my darkest days I knew that I would never even attempt to harm myself or my children in any way. God granted me grace enough to keep my sanity. And for that I am grateful.
Through this time I tried to not let most people know how I was struggling. If someone asked how I was feeling, I’d smile and say I was fine and then try to change the subject. Perhaps I should have let others in on the secret of my anguish, but I couldn’t bear the thought of receiving some useless sympathy that would only make me feel worse. Joshua, of course, was so sweet in the way that he was patient with me. He was understanding when the laundry wasn’t done and usually offered to pick something up for dinner if it had been a particularly bad day. My dad, too, was an encouragement to me. But even though these men helped me limp along, what I really wanted was another woman to talk to who could understand how I was feeling. I think there are some women who I could have talked to, but I just didn’t have the energy to reach out, ask for help and let them in on my dark secret.
I don’t know how I would have survived without the love of my God to carry me through- even though on most days I would feel like God was floating somewhere out in space a million miles away from me. Even when I felt like He must not be the loving Father I thought He was. Even when I felt like He might as well not exist for all the good He was doing me. But then on those days when the Curtain was lifted ever so slightly and I could see the sun again, during those brief, beautiful moments I could see clearly how my faithful God had led me through the darkness and I knew that when the time came for the Curtain to fall again He would be with me- not floating out there somewhere in my imagination, but living, working and breathing in my very soul. The Curtain could never block Him out. It could block out the sun, my will to live, and any ray of hope, but it could never, ever separate me from the love of my Father.
Just this past week, I was praying before bedtime and I could suddenly feel the gray Curtain slowly starting to fall. “Oh, God,” I prayed, “please don’t let the Curtain fall tonight! Please!” To my astonishment I could feel it being lifted and then it vanished. I heard Jesus whisper that He would not let it fall tonight or tomorrow. The next day I could feel It hovering around the edges, but I remembered Jesus’ promise to me and I knew I could fight It today. I even wrote on the top of my “To Do” list, “The curtain will not fall today” just to remind me.
Perhaps someone reading this has felt the gray Curtain of depression. Perhaps you, too, have felt the empty ache that comes when nothing on earth seems to matter anymore and the feeling that you are alone, so alone, in this losing battle. If you claim Jesus as your Savior from sin then He is your Savior from this, too. Cling to His promise that He will hold you in His loving arms. Cling to this promise even when it feels like you are clinging to empty air. If you do not claim Jesus as your Savior then repent! Acknowledge that you are lost in your sin and that He is the only hope you could ever have to live in this life and in the Life to come. Believe that He- and only He- can save you. I know this is true because He saved me.
How grateful I am to serve a God that knows the pain of living in this fallen world! How awed I am to know that He has conquered this pain and that one day the Curtain will be gone forever and that I will never again feel separated from the One I love.