The floor and I became besties for a time. Mostly the piece of carpet in the downstairs living room in front of the Rinnai heater, but the floor in the back office at the church was tear soaked as well. There were hours I would lay and wonder if I could make my heart stop by simply willing it to stop. Or, if for a moment, I could have an out of body experience to give me a brief reprieve from the excruciating pain I felt. I stopped answering the phone, stopped going to church and dreaded going to the grocery store where people who knew what had happened would offer me their unsolicited opinions, either in support of my dad or disgusted by my dad.
I suffered from an acute onset of depression due to my pastor-father’s very public fall from grace. His license and ordination to preach were stripped from him by the denomination he worked for, and rightly so. In fact, I am certain there are a number of women who could claim #metoo because of my father’s inappropriate behavior towards them. I was mortified and embarrassed. On top of such public humiliation my parent’s marriage was meeting its end. Watching the devastation and embarrassment my mom suffered due to my father’s decades of indiscretions was also overwhelming.
For 2 years I battled the depths of depression. Emotionally I went to dark places I had never known before my dad was exposed for who he truly was. I was beyond disappointed. My depression had an acute onset and fortunately does not follow me today. However, I am intimately familiar with loved ones who do suffer with depression every day of their life. While I never would have chosen to walk such a dark road I am grateful for the experience.
My perspective prior to those years was that Jesus could heal everything if we just had enough faith or pleased him enough or prayed enough. That first year I begged God for relief, for a hand up out of that pit, but all I could see around me was a suffocating darkness closing in wanting to snuff out my life. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have been opposed to it at that moment.
I didn’t hardly speak to anyone about my struggle but sobbed all the way to the doctor’s office as if I had given up on Jesus. I was embarrassed about my dad and embarrassed my faith was’t making me better. It felt even more defeating deciding to take medication.
My doctor said in this depression my brain had made ruts that I couldn’t climb out of without help. Zoloft would help me make new thought and feeling pathways. He was Mormon but understood my internal conflict between Jesus and Zoloft.
Thankfully, what I understand today about mental health, especially depression, is that the brain is an organ just like our heart or pancreas. If you have heart disease you go to the doctor and take medication. If our pancreas doesn’t work properly we take insulin. To say to someone with depression, “Try harder! Stop thinking those negative thoughts!” Is like telling someone who needs reading glasses to squint harder. Sometimes you just need glasses! Or medication!
Depression makes us feel isolated, as if we are the only one who suffers in this way. As Christians feeling ashamed that our faith in Jesus isn’t making us better can add insult to injury. Jesus does heal. He brings healing through His Word. But sometimes He brings healing through present and patient friendships, sometimes it’s the wisdom of a counselor and sometimes it’s all of the above along with medication.
If you struggle with depression and need an ear, I am here. Depression doesn’t have to end in death. There is life. There is light. Your story is your own and there is healing created especially just for you.