God Speaks Through the Storm, Part Seven
If you’ve missed any part of this series, click on any post directly below.
Part Two-My Storms in a nutshell
Part Four-More Depression
Part Five-Even More Depression
Part Six-Guest Post, Dan Blanchard
Part Seven-The Last Depression Post
Part Eight-Death of a Child
Part Nine-Death of a Child
Part Ten-Guest Post, Holly Good
Part Eleven-Death of a Child
Part Twelve-Death of a Child
Part Thirteen, Death of a Child
Part Fourteen, Death of a Child
Part Fifteen, Death of a Child
Part Sixteen, Conclusion
If you are visiting today from Experiencing Motherhood, welcome! We are in the middle of a series called God Speaks Through the Storm. You can click on the storm picture in the sidebar to read the series in its entirety, or hop in right here. Enjoy your visit!
“Rather than be surprised when a mother becomes depressed, we should be shocked that there aren’t more of us openly talking about what is a remarkably common experience.”
~ Carla Barnhill, The Myth of the Perfect Mother: Rethinking the Spirituality of Women
I knew depression was common, but never did I realize just how common, until I started sharing my own experience. In the history of my little blog, I have never had more behind-the-scenes discussions with readers as I have since starting this series. Some of you are sharing your own struggles, some are sharing the struggles of someone with whom you are close.
And I haven’t kept an exact count, but I think about 137 of you are on Lexapro or some other antidepressant—give or take. OK, I’m exaggerating, but it’s a lot of you.
Statistics show that one in five women will experience a period of major depression in her lifetime (most commonly between the ages of 25 and 44). And though women experience depression at more than double the rate of men, men are three times as likely to commit suicide than women.
Remarkably common, indeed.
While depression is common, it is also quite complex (as we learned Monday in Part Six). Not only is the brain itself the most complex organ of the entire body, but our lives are amazingly complex, as well. Everything from our upbringing, to our temperaments…our diets to our work environments…our sleep schedules to our stress levels…affects us profoundly on an emotional level.
That’s why it’s not just vital to examine the WHAT of our depression, but I believe it’s equally vital to examine the WHY of our depression. In other words, diagnosing our depression is only the beginning of the battle. The rest of the battle is fought (and won) in understanding why we are depressed so we can take the proper steps to treat it.
Let me begin by humbly urging you: if you think you may be suffering from depression, please go get some help. Coming from a girl who tried for seven years to self-diagnose and self-treat her depression, I can assure you, I wasted a lot of time and hurt a lot of people along the way.
The more I tried to help myself, the more I continued to fail. The more I failed, the worse I felt about myself and about my relationship with God. The worse I felt about myself and my relationship with God, the more isolated I became… and thus, the more depressed I became. And further and further it spiraled until I broke down completely.
If you are reluctant to seek help, I totally get that. I was too. But now that I’m on the other side of it, I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for God leading me to the right people to help me.
Let me just give you a few quick reasons why I recommend you seek help, like TODAY:
1. Obviously, if you have organically based (or bio-chemical) depression, you will need prescription drugs to help you. And unless you are into illegal drug trafficking, or enjoy the thought of spending years in a prison cell with a roommate named Butch (male or female), you will need a doctor to prescribe said drugs.
2. A good therapist will equip you with tools (books, tapes, websites, and other resources) for you to learn as much as possible about your condition. Some of my biggest “ah-ha” moments in my recovery occurred while reading one of the books Dan recommended to me.
3. A good therapist will help you sift through your life piece-by- piece to help you determine what life habits need to go or need to stay. In my therapy sessions, Dan helped me discover that my depressive episodes were often triggered by going extended periods of time without sharing deeply with other women, thus becoming extremely lonely and isolated. I never isolated myself on purpose. I was just trying to be a good mom. Life with babies makes it very difficult to connect with other women on a regular basis. And when you do connect, it’s impossible to finish a thought, much less have any deep connection. So interactions with friends tend to be brief and without any real depth. Dan really encouraged me to stay connected to my girl friends on a deep level, even when it feels like we can’t find the time, and even if I need to hire a babysitter to do so.
4. A good therapist will help you sort through and deal with your past. Dan helped me realize the origin of some of my destructive thought patterns were deeply imbedded in childhood or early-adult experiences. He validated areas of intense pain in my past—areas I had previously tried to “suck up” on my own or downplay by telling myself “it wasn’t that bad.” By validating my pain, not only did those memories come into the Light, but they instantaneously lost their power over my present-day emotions.
5. A good therapist will hold you accountable. Dan would send me home with an assignment, and then follow up with me on our next appointment. That was just what this “I-can-do-it-all-by-myself” girl needed. Accountability.
Finally, and most importantly, there was something about seeking professional help—making an appointment and writing a check every week—that helped me understand the seriousness of my condition. For so many years, I had written off my irritability as hormones (or more often, being a bad mom).
But now I know it is a sickness. A valid medical condition that deserves my attention and must be treated.
Seeking treatment equipped me with the tools necessary to set appropriate boundaries around my time and my mind so that life’s circumstances are less likely to “trigger” another depressive episode in the future.
It helped me find the courage to express clearly to my husband what I needed without feeling guilty for “needing” something.
And finally, it exposed the lie of the Enemy: the one that says “I don’t need no stinkin therapist.” And showed me that God doesn’t expect me to do life alone. To the contrary, He places all sorts of wonderful, Godly people into our lives. People to bring out the best in us and assist us in becoming the man or woman of God He created us to be. Even stinkin therapists.
For a fabulous sermon on the power of community, check out Together is Better by Tim Parish.
Listen on line or download to your computer or MP3 for free!
Did you know the early posts of God Speaks Today set a strong Biblical foundation for God Speaking to us through other people? You may want to check out this post, When God Speaks Through Other People, Part 2!
Can I just say that you’re amazing?!? This information is so touching yet so informative. You have once again left me in tears.
Connecting and boundaries are so, so important to keep me from spiraling out of control.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart for this reminder to take inventory.
This post rocks, Sandy.
I love love love that quote by Carla Barnhill at the beginning.
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. This series has brought to light MANY issues of my own that I need to tend to. I can’t thank you enough.
Have a great Wednesday,
Thanks for doing this series.
love it! 🙂 u are awesome girl. Thank you!!
Another great, encouraging post, Sandy. Great to see you getting the word out there.
When I went through severe depression back in the early 1990s, there seemed to be a lack of understanding about the illness. People spoke of it, doctors even said I had it, but a lack of knowledge of the nuts-and-bolts of depression kept me in the dark. The Christian counselor I saw helped a lot, and she spent a lot of time going through childhood traumas that were responsible for faulty throught processes that either contributed to my depression, or hindered recovery. Then came the book that helped me, which broke down nervous illnesses into its various nuts-and-bolts.
Getting help for major depression is vital, it is not something we can recover from by ourselves, and I agree, let’s ignore the lie Satan tricks people into believing, “I don’t need no stinkin’ therapist.”
What we need is to recover. And by learning how to deal with it, Jesus can set us free from its recurring cycle as well.