Monday, April 7, 2014

My Ramblings on Refinement Through the Pain [Depression]

My emotions have been all over the board lately. I've mentioned that I've been struggling with anxiety, and I've now returned to seeing my counselor who helped me through my anxiety in the past.

The counselor, and a book he gave me to read (Anxiety Gone by Stanley Hibbs) have really helped to alleviate my anxiety issues. I've found that my heart is calmer, my mind more clear. It's such a relief.

However, now that the anxiety is decreasing, I've found something ugly hiding underneath, jumping to the surface now that there's room.

Depression.

There isn't an easy way to describe depression to someone who hasn't experienced it. It's a weight, a heaviness, an ache, a complete lack of joy. The things that normally bring happiness to your heart - your children, your spouse, funny jokes, coffee, sunshine, music, exercise, friends - they all seem bland. As if you are looking at them through a dirty, filmy window - the brightness is gone, you are seeing and shallowly experiencing them, but you're not engaged and can't get engaged because you're stuck behind the filthy window and can't get through.

And then I feel guilty when I feel this way. Not necessarily ashamed or embarrassed; I've been openly discussing anxiety and depression for years now and don't feel that it's something to hide out of shame. Rather, I feel guilty because I don't want to bring down the joy of those around me. I want to be happy Kara. I want to be happy Wife, happy Mom. I want to show others God's love, show them that there is a reason to be joyful no matter what is going on in your life.

But how do I do that when I'm not feeling it myself?

Some people seem to think that one should be able to think him- or herself out of depression. That it's simply a result of poor mental habits, a product of looking at the glass half empty instead of half full. I tend to think that these are the people who haven't experienced the true weight of depression. Because I can guarantee you, when you are experiencing the weight and heaviness of depression, you are trying everything you can to get it to go away, including all the mental tricks in the book. You tell yourself, "Be happy! Look at the smile on your child, it should make your heart swell! Feel that warm sunshine! What a gift from God!" You tell yourself these things, and you know them to be true, but your heart won't cooperate and the emotion behind them that you once felt is now gone. You try so hard to trick yourself into feeling the joy you once did, but it is out of reach. You know it exists, but you can't find it. It's lost, or you are lost.

I have gone in circles over the last few weeks trying to decide what to do about these depressed feelings I'm having. They came and went a couple days at a time for several weeks, never severe, but just enough that I wasn't enjoying my days. Then this past weekend, the feelings were heavy. Very, very heavy. I walked around feeling like I weighed 500 lbs. I had no energy, no motivation for anything, and I just wanted to sleep. I didn't want to spend time with anyone, but made myself in an attempt to feel normal again. There was nothing wrong, nothing making me sad, but I wanted to cry and crawl under my covers and avoid my life and everything in it. I was starting to catch glimpses of how I felt during my postpartum depression.

I had tried everything on Saturday to alleviate the pain - family, friends, exercise, sunshine, coffee, shopping, quiet time - and nothing was working. I started wondering if I needed medicine again. What was wrong with me? How could I get rid of this ache?? And then suddenly I realized the one thing I hadn't done.

I hadn't prayed.

The moment I realized it, I immediately lifted my heart up to God. I silently called out to Him in desperation, and begged that He would take some of the pain away.

And you know what?

He did.

Immediately. Just like that.

Literally, within three seconds, the pain was gone.

I stood there shocked. I looked at my kids, and they seemed bright and beautiful again. I looked outside, and the sunshine felt like a glorious gift from God. I felt motivated to take care of my house. I felt happy at the prospect of seeing people.

God is amazing, people. AMAZING.

Now, the pain didn't disappear for good. It began to return again maybe 30 minutes later. But do you know what I did when it returned? I prayed. And then I prayed 30 minutes after that. And 30 minutes after that. And continued to do so through the rest of the day and the next day whenever I felt that ugly ache start to creep up.

I don't know the reason for these depressive issues, but I do know that God is using them to grow me. He's teaching me to be dependent on Him, to turn to Him FIRST (which is what I should have done!), to trust Him to give me what I need to get through the day.

And right along these lines, I read a Lent devotion this morning which specifically talked about God growing us through our pain. I've actually read a lot about this topic recently, but I enjoyed the devotion I read today because it followed up right behind my own revelation on the subject. I truly believe that God is refining me through these struggles. Do I believe He caused them? No, but that's a discussion for another day. All I need to focus on right now is growing closer to God, and learning to lean into Him as I know He wants me to.

If you'd like to read the devotion, it's below.

http://gs4nj.org/giving-up-quick-fix/

I pray that any of you who are experiencing pain are running to God and letting Him carry you through.

God bless.

{For a video that helps to explain the symptoms of depression, I recommend watching the video "I Had a Black Dog", linked in my previous post here: http://www.just1step.com/2014/01/andthe-anxiety-is-back-and-i-had-black.html.}

7 comments:

  1. Kara, thanks for sharing another honest and open post about depression. I'm so glad when friends are willing to talk about the issue, so it doesn't have to be suffered in lonely silence. You continue to inspire me as a mama and a wife and a friend of Jesus.And, I miss hanging out with you on the sidelines. take care friend.

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  2. Thank you for your kind words, Vanessa. :) You made me tear up. :) Miss you too...I hope we get to see you soon.

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  3. Well done for being so honest and standing up to it! I read your blog from England and miss your frequent, happy posts! Remember that sometimes, God gives you lows so that you appreciate the highs. This too shall pass and you will come out the other side a happier, stronger momma :)

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  4. Kara! This was definitely a post that resonated so personally, it's like I could have written some of your sentences. My heart was completely filled with empathy for you for all you've been experiencing. :\ And even with struggling with my own episodic depression for over a decade, I still feel at a loss for what to say exactly?! Except hold onto the hope you have found! Thinking of you...

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  5. Thank you so much, Daisy!! I appreciate your kind words - and your continued readership even when my blog is a wee bit lacking. ;) It's so fun to find out I have a reader outside the family and friends who know me in "real life," even moreso that it's someone living in another country. :)

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  6. Thanks so much, Holly. :) Are you struggling still? It's such an up and down battle. I've actually realized lately, through talking to my counselor, that I may have had issues with low-key depression for much of my life, but never knew it. Now that I've experience how it feels to be on medication and feel NORMAL (which is unfortunately not the case right now haha), I'm like, oh, wait, I didn't feel this "normal" when I was younger. I cried a lot when alone, and I was always scrambling for something to give meaning and joy to my days. So maybe it's always been there...


    who knows. :)

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  7. yyyyyyyyyyyy

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