photography by Anthony Kaetzel
And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther'... Job 38:11a NASB
I am amazed at God's goodness and love for me. Although I am currently in a struggle with my own depression, God is bringing women into my life who need a little wisdom from my experience. The more I speak to others about depression and God's healing touch whether through medications or behavior modifications or counseling, the more determined and strengthened I am to conquer my own depression.
I am on a combination of anti-depressants. Not all anti-depressants work the same way... and not all people suffer depression the same way. So, one may work for me... and not for you. Or you may not need medication at all. (I am always a little nervous writing it on my blog, but I tell people all the time.) I know I am judged for taking anti-depressants. And I have heard... Perhaps I should pray more. Have more faith. Attend church more. Read my Bible more.
Seriously. I am judged for being on medication that saves my life. Oh, well. No bother. I am not alone in this. The Lord and I have spoken extensively about this, and He asks me to not judge those who are judging me... and so I offer to those who sit in judgment of me... GRACE. And I have to admit grace is not easy to come by when I am suffering depression. Mercy comes easy and actually overflows out of me... but grace does not. When I am suffering through depression, I have no grace to give. I am short-tempered and may end up giving my true opinion without any love attached. So sometimes I need to quarantine myself or bite my tongue... literally.
I want to share with you just two of the precious sisters who I have communicated with in regards to their current state of depression just this week. They are beautiful godly women. They are struggling and they need some wisdom. And they need mercy. And a touch from God.
First precious sister:
Dear Sheri,I remember your talking openly and of course reading about it on your blog, your struggle with depression. I have found myself slipping towards the dark side (my description of it, anyway). Probably just hormones or the lack of them... but it doesn't make it any less real. I am seriously considering going to my doctor for some medication, but it makes my heart palpitate a bit. But thinking that I am going to be a crying, moody, blue mess around my family makes my heart palpitate even harder! Do you have any suggestions or words of wisdom?
My response:One thing i have found to help me after a long tearful evening is repeating a few of my memory scriptures... over and over and over.
Her response:You are on the right path! Praying. Reading Scriptures. Praising God. Considering different options. And seeking wisdom from someone who has been there.
First of all... is to isolate certain things.
1. Is this new? Or on-going? Or seasonal?
2. Are there any new stresses in your life?
3. Have there been any huge changes in your life or schedule?
4. How has your health been overall? Any sickness lately?
5. How are your loved ones? Has there been any major changes in their lives?
6. Does anyone at all in your family suffer with depression? Could be genetic.
By thinking through these things you will have more information to give to the doctor. You may need some counseling and/or medication. Don't worry that just because you go to a doctor that they will give you medication. They might not, but if they do... you can do research on it before you take it.
1. Sometimes we need medication to get us through a reason. Kind of like needing a cast on a leg. But then it heals and is completely better.
2. Sometimes we need medication for a season. Kind of like having an allergy. We need to maintain our hormones due to causes like Seasonal Affective Disorder.
3. Sometimes we need medication for a lifetime. Kind of like having diabetes. Our bodies are not producing enough neurotransmitters most likely due to genetic reasons (or thyroid issues and the like).
I am praying for you. There are tremendous resources like the In The Light Website. http://www.itlcommunications.com/resource_listing.html
Or the book Conquering Depression by Sutton and Hennigan.
Get informed. Be persistent. Stay in communication. Sometimes just speaking about it gives it less power over us.
God will truly make a way. You are not alone. He will fight for you... but we need to seek out the wisdom and knowledge that is out there. This does not have to be a dark cloud... It can be a new day. A turning point where you have said, "Thus far, but no farther!" You can be better than ever... God is that good!
I love you, my dear one!
Thank you thank you thank you. Once again I'm crying here at my desk...but this time it's for a positive reason! You have given me wonderful insight and things to think upon. I have an appointment at my counselor next Wednesday, but am going to make a doctor appointment, too. I just can not continue like this. Like you said, Thus far, but no farther!
Second precious sister:
I don't know which questions to ask, where to start. Can you recommend any books? I've been having a rough time lately. Things had been going so well for so long that I'm really being thrown for a loop. I was lucky when we got the right combo of meds the first time, without going through the trial and error and struggle of searching for the right combination. But I don't know how long that combo lasts. Years? How many? Am I on borrowed time? I'm nervous. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist so I'll ask him these questions, of course.
I don't know what I need to do, or where I need to begin, but I need to do something. So I'll start where I can see the most obvious issues and go from there.
Thanks for being here. As you know, it really helps.
First of all let me tell you that you are going to get through this. God is greater than any illness or depression. He is greater. And He has a great plan for you.
That you are reaching out and trying to get help is the first step. You need to fight depression. Be persistent and know that with help you are going to be stronger than you ever have been.
I have dealt with depression my whole life. It is hereditary (my father had severe depression). My father abused me. I have Thyroid Cancer. But in 2006 it all came to a head due to other circumstances (including death of a close friend and over commitment and poor boundaries), I went into the "dark night of my soul." We checked everything health wise, but I was falling apart (losing weight, not eating, pathetic, dazed, unable to think, diarrhea, unable to sit upright for long periods of time, no energy, no desire to continue to live...). After thorough evaluations we finally understood that all the health issues were coming from my depression and that we needed to focus on it.
We had been trying to tweak my medications, but obviously I was on one that was not effective for me. Then we started working with a combination of medications and I started coming back to life.
Okay, so now you know where I am coming from. During the depths of my depression I began journaling (again) and reading a Psalm a day and I picked up the book "Conquering Depression" by Sutton and Hennigan. (The authors are Christian and one is a counselor and one is a medical doctor.) I know the book "Conquering Depression" was a huge help to my understanding what my role was in surviving depression. Behaviors I needed to modify. Boundaries I needed to set up or enforce. Routines I needed to set up.
For me combining the right medications with behavior modification along with PERSISTENCE is how I survive depression.
I recently went to a seminar. http://itlcommunications.com/ These guys are local and amazing. I am actually going to see the psychiatrist because they just seem to know more than my current psychiatrist. Read the info on the site. Watch the videos. The more information you have the more you can defeat this.
I also blog about my depression. If you want to read more about my depression and how I deal with it. If you use this link it will pull up all the posts on depression. http://theleakingwindow.blogspot.com/search/label/Depression
I want you to feel free to call me. Or if you would like to meet and we can talk through this. I have come alongside a number of Christian women who are suffering with depression. The more women I meet the more I learn about the science of depression and how it can be conquered. I believe God when He says that He will comfort me in my sorrow so that I can comfort others as He has comforted me.~~~~~
I am here for you, dear one. You are not alone. I will be praying for you. Feel free to call, meet or FB me. Consider me a living resource!
I love you!
So, dear ones, remember... "Thus far, but no farther!"
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses,
in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10