Depression is ugly, people. Depression lies. Like the snake in the garden of Eden, Depression twists and turns it way into your mind, and your heart, and your gut; it whispers small lies at first... building and building until the only "voice" you hear is the demanding, punishing voice that is Depression. I have danced with Depression a few times in my life.
The first was after Kid 1 was born. It had already been established that I had OCD. I am not the compulsive hand-washer or cleaner (sorry, Hubby!), I am the "lock-checker." At my worst, I spent 20+ minutes just trying to exit my house. Testing exterior doors... holding the shaft of the curling iron in my hand to make sure it was cool and off... squeezing the plug of the iron and curling iron into my hand to make imprints so I'd remember that I'd unplugged them... laying my hand on each stove burner to make sure it was cool. Yeah... I did all of that! :( Once I started medication (zoloft), the panicked voice in my head convincing me that I would single-handedly burn my house down with a careless light left on was muted somewhat, I could finally concentrate on the "sane" thoughts that had become buried in the cacophony of lies. I found my "normal" again. For me, medicine helps me sort through truths and lies. "Mind over matter" wasn't enough for me, I needed professional, medical help.
I stopped taking Zoloft when we decided to get pregnant. Then I decided to try breast-feeding after Kid 1 was born. That meant a total of about a year without meds... and postpartum depression slithered through that open door inside my mind. I remember looking at my baby and realizing just how fragile he was. Everything he required depended on me! The doubts got so strong that I started being afraid to walk past the top of the stairs with him. I had visions of tossing him down the stairs, even. I'd hold him close on the trek from our room to his room and hug the back wall - staring straight ahead to his door, walking swiftly (but not TOO quickly or I might trip!). I didn't want to be responsible for breaking or hurting or killing him. I reminds me now of a conversation that Twilight's Edward had with Bella:
It’s just that you are so soft, so fragile. I have to mind my actions every moment that we’re together so that I don’t hurt you. I could kill you quite easily, Bella, simply by accident.
Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 14, p.310
The second time, the medicine caused the lies...
Packaging on anti-depressants tell you that if you develop suicidal tendencies, to CALL YOUR DOCTOR right away. A few years later... this weary stay-home mom with a toddler and a new baby was exhausted. Overweight... with high blood pressure... pulled in so many different directions... I remember thinking that "If everyone keeps taking a piece of me... soon I'll be left with nothing but pieces..." And, I remember thinking that perhaps it would be SO much quieter if I were dead. Fortunately, I also remembered the warnings on the medicine package. I called my doctor, switched my medicine, and the lies of Depression were stifled once again.
I share my story in a effort to show that if you are suffering from depression, or anxiety, or OCD, or crazy thoughts, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There was a funny quote kicking around that said:
1 in 4 people are crazy.
Look at your 3 best friends.
If they seem normal, it's you.
Sometimes, I think that's a bit backwards... because the amount of people I've run into who have had issues with depression, anxiety, etc. seem a lot higher than 1 in 4!
But Depression is a powerful, powerful snake. It crawls in and tramples all over the "sane" thoughts until all you hear are the lies. My friend, Phil, posted this Bible verse recently:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:10-11 ESV)
Depression IS a thief. It steals your joy, your sanity, your life. And there isn't a quick fix. There are only tools that you can try (and mix & match!) to get control over it. First, is God... and then all of the people, programs, medication, and/or therapy that God has put in place around you.
God tells us in Isaiah 40:31-
But those who HOPE in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
And in Psalm 46:1 -
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
God is there for you to turn towards. And He has placed key people on this earth to help you as well. Friends, Family, Doctors, Therapists, Medicine, Meditation, Blogging, ... who and whatever! Reach out. Talk to someone. You are not alone. Please, use the tools around you to thwart the Lies. Because there IS joy ahead for you. There IS faith. There IS life.
Everyone who's ever met me knows that my all-time favorite show is Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Best show ever - seriously. And at the end of Season 5, Buffy must sacrifice herself to save the entire world by jumping through a portal keep all hell (literally) from closing in. She gives these final words to her sister, Dawn:
"Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles... tell Giles, I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong, Dawn, the hardest thing in this world... is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me."
The hardest thing in this world... is to LIVE in it. All of you who struggle, I encourage you to be brave. LIVE.