For a long time, the word depression came with a lot of negative thoughts. It felt like a taboo word in Christian circles. It brought up feelings of guilt, failure, and shame. I had a hard time even thinking or saying the word out loud and even more difficult time considering it might be my state of mind. I would define depression as disappointment with myself. A state of mind that critically judges my actions based upon preconceived expectations or standards.
It was after my third child was born that I began to slip into this depressive state. We had recently moved from one home to another. My best friend had recently moved away and I had gained a ton of weight from being put on bed rest during my pregnancy. My newborn daughter was a very challenging baby. She needed constant touch from me and would rarely go to her father without screaming and crying. She cried a lot. I mean a whole lot! It was hard. I had a 4 and 2 year old to care for on top of the newborn. My house was still in disarray from the move and every time I looked in the mirror I wanted to cry.
The insurmountable stress of life left me feeling tired and defeated. Most would say why didn’t I take time away? Well, that is exactly where the the depression started. Every time I tried to take time away to care for myself there was this guilt that set in. It was a little voice in the back of my head that yelled, ” you should feel ashamed for being so selfish!” And “your real problem is that you don’t pray enough or study your bible enough.” So I would desperately try to clean or do house work to “earn” that time away but failed because house work never ends with three kids. I then would take that pent up stress and failures and try to to eat them away. I tried to press down all the the negative feelings I had. Then I would look at myself and feel even more ashamed and feel like a failure. I believed at one point that the solution to my problem was contentment. That I just needed to be content in my circumstances. Looking back contentment was not the problem. I loved being a mother but the pressure was hard and even Jesus took time to be alone and I needed to do the same but no…the real problem was the way I viewed myself. It was so poor that I could not give myself a break.
I eventually became accustom to that depressive feeling that familiar inner voice. It was a constant reminder of I’m not enough and I can’t do enough. I prayed and prayed for change. I wanted God to change me because obviously something was wrong with me. I was a deeply flawed individual that needed to be changed completely. I looked to God for him to change the way I acted towards others but those deep dark feelings I had about myself I pushed those way down. I put them in a closet and I slapped a fake smile on. But the fruit of such a practice left a bitterness in my mouth, a sharpness on my tongue and anger in my heart. I was pretty good about distracting myself from the feelings that I had. I masked it well enough so most people probably would not guess that such darkness lies on the inside. I just kept on ever pursing how to change my outward actions without truly acknowledging that inner voice was not a help or a friend.
I got to the point that I just could not deal with the feelings anymore. My dark thoughts led me to want to be absent from life. I didn’t want to commit suicide physically but I wanted to emotionally and mentally. I wanted to numb out and check out from the pain I kept feeling. Silly as it sounds, I literally asked God if I could just check out knowing full well he would say no.
But it was the turning point.I would love to say, “oh I became happy and joyful.” Nope, it was a turning point inward. God was about to carry me through a very dark valley within myself.