“Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself. Shoot yourself.”
Those two words were on a repeating loop in my mind as I drove to the small-town grocery store to get ingredients for the sides and dessert I was charged with preparing for the family Thanksgiving dinner. It’s pretty hard to give a crap about pound cake when your own brain is trying to convince you to off yourself but I’ve always been bound by duty and guilt.
I had to drive by a bar to get to the grocery store. Okay, I didn’t have to. I could’ve taken a different route but I didn’t because I thought if it got bad enough in that ten-mile stretch between me and the green beans I had to buy, I could go in and just get drunk. If I really started to panic, I could go in and chug even just two or three beers really quickly and I knew I would calm right down. I made a list in my head of all the reasons why it would be okay if I did stop at the bar on the way. I really, really wanted to. But I didn’t. Which was kind of the theme of this new job I had called “being a mom,” it seemed. It didn’t matter what I wanted to do. I had a baby at home and a husband who was also in his own period of adjustment and I doubted, though he is a merciful man, that I would be greeted with much sympathy if I arrived home smelling like a roadside honky tonk.
When I got home, I told my husband about the voice in my head. He looked after me and when my body adjusted to the meds, I was better off than before. I don’t want to seem dramatic and I need to be 100% genuine and tell you that even though I literally had the “shoot yourself” refrain playing in my head, I knew I wasn’t going to do it. I don’t know how or why but I knew I wouldn’t. If you ever feel uncertain about whether you will or won’t, call someone IMMEDIATELY.
It’s hard to know where to start talking about depression. I’ve had a post or two in the past, when I felt like I just had to spit something out. And each time I’ve done those, I’ve received private messages from women who want to know more. Because of that, I’ve always wanted to do a series or an e-book on my personal experience and the resources I’ve found and information I’ve gathered through it. But, it’s hard to find the time to figure out how to organize and encapsulate, in any kind of comprehensive way, an experience with so much nuance. (And honestly, it’s hard to want to when I know that focusing on it again will probably bring an attack or two back to the battleground.)
Each person is unique and each story is different. I want to be able to share my journey in a way that encourages others without suggesting that their journey would be anything like mine. When we face depression, we desperately want to feel that someone understands but I would bristle at any implication that someone did. Because I’m different and they don’t know.
But, until I ever get around to that series or e-book, here is what I can tell you. I did not ever know I struggled with depression or anxiety until I was 28 years old. I thought I was the opposite of someone who had those challenges as did most people who knew me. Turns out that I had just always slept or drank myself out of my bouts. Because for me, it always comes in waves. Maybe not for you. Sometimes I can pinpoint a trigger, like when we set the clocks back in November or when I hear about something sad and then everything after that seems sad and then I’m wondering why we even have to suffer through life on this Earth where people do horrible things. I did not ever understand spiritual warfare and I had no concept of the connection between the physiological things that play into depression such as our hormones or brain chemicals and pathways and the demonic lies our spirits can be vulnerable to. So, depression can be sneaky.
There’s so much more I could ramble on about from my own perspective but instead, let me tell you about Hope Prevails. This is a new book from neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson about her own walk through depression. So, here we have an opportunity to learn from someone who understands the scientific and the human aspects of a trip down Struggle Street. Here’s what she says:
“My greatest shock came when I tried the same treatment suggestions I typically offered my patients- and they didn’t work. I tried medication, I participated in therapy, I ate right and exercised dutifully, and I even prayed and claimed healing. For me those things weren’t enough. Only when I started to understand what depression does to us spiritually, as well as what it cannot do, and then started cooperating with God did I finally begin to experience the chains of depression falling off. I wrote this book to share what worked for me and what can help you.”
And because she did and because I am so passionate about trying to throw life preservers out to a drowning world, I have a copy to give away. I know when I am depressed, the last thing I want to do is anything constructive that might actually help. (Think about that for a minute. Think about your urges or thoughts to do self-destructive things when you’re stressed out. Why would that be? When we know the healthy things but it’s the unhealthy things we are drawn to in a hard stretch, we have to think about why. It’s the enemy of your soul pouncing on an opportunity to hurt you, my friend.) So, if you aren’t currently depressed, now might be a great time to read this book! If you care about someone who may be depressed, this is the perfect time to read this book! If you are depressed and you want to read the book, by all means, enter the giveaway but if you don’t win, holler at me. We will figure something out to get you some help. Judgement free. For real.
As much as it almost makes me shiver to think about those darkest times, I am telling you the 100% truth that it was those times that caused my whole life to change. And by life I don’t mean circumstantial things, I mean my inner self because it was suddenly a fact that I had nothing but Jesus to help me. If that didn’t “work,” I was sunk. Nothing was “wrong”- I had a good life. I had meds and a supportive husband and good physical health and enough money and access to whatever else might help a person. And those things certainly made a difference, but they couldn’t accomplish the job on their own. Sometimes we don’t really get to know God until we have nowhere else to turn. Do you know that we have a promise from Him that says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:)?” I am a new, deeper, more compassionate person because of what I went through with depression. And I am not fooled, I live knowing that I am probably not “all done” with depression for good. But it is okay now. I don’t struggle to breathe with that knowledge anymore. And I don’t want you to, either.
Dr. Bengston said, “I don’t ever want to go through anything that painful again. Honestly, I wouldn’t voluntarily choose to endure such pain, nor would I wish it on anyone. But now that I’m on the other side, I can see how even in the midst of such pain God was there. And truly, he used even pain for my good. For that I am thankful.”
You don’t have to answer this but I would love for you to think about it, no matter if you are currently on a mountain top or deep in a valley. Has there been something hard you have gone through that you can see God has used your pain for good somehow? If not, He will- in His own timing- if you give it over to Him and trust Him with it.
So, friend, enter this here giveaway. Here’s what you win:
- Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson
- A “hope” bracelet
- A Hope Prevails scarf
- An 8×10 encouraging print from Jenn Jett
- A pretty 5×7 print
- A journal from Sole Hope
- Scripture memory bookmarks
- There was a special Hope Prevails Hershey bar but I’m not going to lie to you- I ate it. Sorry.
Click here to enter and I’ll announce the winner next Monday (July 10, 2017)!
Thanks for being here with me. Love you as much as that Hershey bar I stole from the giveaway box (which is a lot).