You would often read this in books and memes, but I only recently experienced this first hand. Not many people are aware of it, but I also suffer from DEPRESSION. It’s undiagnosed, as I never went to a psychiatrist, but I do know that I have it. And yeah, I am pretty good at hiding it—but not from my immediate family.
My episodes happen several times in a month. When I am ovulating, I have PMS, or when I already have my period. I am also affected by situations, movies, or pretty much anything that can trigger an intense amount of sadness. I also have bouts of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or the blues, as many would call it, just before my birthday, Valentine’s, and Christmas. Heck, I don’t even feel like celebrating my birthday because I feel it’s the saddest day of my life! Keyword: feel.
During these times, it is not just your regular sadness, I feel so sad that I get unproductive, cranky to the point of getting angry and lashing it out to the people closest to me, I feel like closeting myself, and many times, I plunged into self-destructive behavior because of misery and desperation. At times, it’s already sleeping time and a singular thought would creep up, ruin the mood, and I would end up shedding buckets of tears. That’s the reason why I don’t watch sad movies, I can cry very well on my own without the suggestion of sad scenes, thank you.
Depression is debilitating. It is not the kind of sadness that can be remedied by retail therapy. Sometimes (but not all the time), I would go on a shopping binge or treat myself to the salon or spa and when I get home, I become sadder because I have depleted my pocket. I feel emptier than when I left. It may go away with a dose of chocolate, but it will come back when the effect wears off. I also binge eat and go about with the extra weight, which also makes me more depressed. I have cried myself out to the Lord and begged for Him to deliver me, but these things continue to happen. Then by the grace of God, I get to drag myself out and get on to live another day.
Such was my double life, which I struggled for the last 40 years. My husband had been telling me that I can make a decision not to be sad, to choose joy but I always argue that I can’t do anything about it. It feels like a dagger is being pushed in my chest all the time. And you know what hurts most? The Christian cliché that a relationship with Christ will bring joy, not happiness, but real joy that can surmount even life’s greatest miseries. I get sick to the stomach thinking about why I get these episodes.
I am not sure when, as it was not a thunderous moment, but I just thought to myself: enough is enough. My circumstances may or may not change, but I can change my reactions to things and situations. I can choose not to succumb to depression. I am not really sure, this is not a pill popping solution but it first came with the decision that I will not accept depression in my life anymore. It has not been easy at first, but eventually I got used to the idea and it was easier for me to combat depression when it starts to seep in again.
“I will not accept depression in my life anymore.”
Sure I get mood swings. Sure I still get weepy when the time of the month comes, but now it has been easier for me to overcome the inexplicable sadness. It used to be like a wave that crashes or feel like a blanket that covers me. I could not help it but cry and think bad thoughts about myself.
I think Christians who get depressed feel doubly sad when it strikes because we may feel abandoned, most especially by God. I did, too. I cling on to His grace everyday—even my children’s names mean “The Lord is gracious.” So why the bouts of depression still?
I believe that God’s grace abounds and it’s always there for me to receive. The problem is, I was hanging to His grace with one hand while also fiercely hanging on to depression with another hand. It seems I couldn’t let go. Just like my salvation, I had to make a choice. It was a decision that only I was allowed to make. Yes, a PERSONAL CHOICE.
I owe it to myself to be happy (with or without unicorns)..and also to the people I love. I may not be perfect but being happier in who I am and being content with what I have has made me a much more pleasant person in the present.
Note: I am not an expert nor am I a counsellor. I am sharing a personal journey that can hopefully bless others. If I just encourage one person who also battles with depression, I am already thankful.