I was sitting across from the doctor explaining that I wanted to go off of one of my medicines. He put his pen down and looked me in the eyes. He told me I have medicine resistant depression and that stimulant is helping me. Although I knew this in my heart, hearing him say it hit me like a ton of bricks. Any hope I had left of finding the right medicine leaked out of me. I battled this in my mind for days. Maybe, I’m not going to get better. Maybe, this is it for me–a bleak existence on this earth with everyday being a struggle.
But, that’s what the devil wants me to believe. I am a child of God. He knew me before he formed me in my mother’s womb. He has a purpose for my life. He said he will never leave me or forsake me. He said he has plans to prosper me, not to harm me, to give me hope and a future. That’s it right there–hope and a future, that’s what I needed to hear! It may seem impossible, but nothing is impossible for God! That promise in the word of God has been in my brain and spirit lately. I can’t allow the devil to steal my hope because it steals my peace and I become anxiety ridden, worrying about my future. I am putting my illness in his capable hands. I believe He will use it for good. I don’t believe in my spirit that he’s going to leave me in this place.
So, no…do not lose hope! He promised to restore what the devil has stolen. He is faithful to carry out his purpose through us, and he loves us. Because of that love, I can put my trust in the one who died for me to have everlasting life. I am renewed in my spirit with hope for a future! Bless the one who mourns, for they will be comforted.
If this is you today, and you don’t think you can do one more day…you can! He who started a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Keep the faith, sister! Keep the faith, brother! Put your trust in Jesus. He knows you better than you know yourself. Don’t give up hope!
Would you say you have vision for your life and you know your purpose? Or would you instead say you have no idea where you’re headed in life and you continue to pray for God to reveal your purpose? When we live life with no purpose and vision, we tend to become depressed and anxious–that’s not to say it’s the only cause of those illnesses. But, it makes sense. God created each one of us to fulfill a purpose on earth that leads into eternity somehow. He placed gifts and talents in each of us and gave us each vision for our lives. If we’re doing our own things and living outside of our purpose, of course were going to become depressed. But how do we know what our purpose and vision are? Only by close fellowship and prayer. He will start revealing to us dreams and passions of ours that for some of us, we long forgot about. We can then start moving forward toward a future of adventure with our walk with the Lord; and, joy from living out our purpose.
When we bury emotions, past failures, sins, or whatever else that we want to forget about, we delay healing. We have to face these things that upset us and work with the holy spirit toward healing. Not what you wanted to hear, right? Who wants to think about unpleasant past experiences and revisit the pain, shame, embarrassment, you fill in the blanks? The answer is nobody, but it’s necessary in order to bring healing. I’ve spent years burying memories, but guess what…they appeared as anxiety in my body. I asked the holy spirit some time ago to reveal to me what was wrong and help me to get better. I’ve heard it said that the holy spirit is a gentlemen with how he handles us. My own experiences have proven that to be true. Slowly, over the past two years, he has shown me different pains I’ve buried and helped me to overcome them. One by one. It’s as if he knew I couldn’t handle more than one at a time. I’ve spent days praying and crying over things past and allowed myself to feel the overwhelming emotion that goes with burying memories for long periods of time. But, after I’ve faced it, prayed about it, and surrendered it to the Lord, I move on a little lighter on my feet. Buried emotions always come back into play later. It’s better to deal with them and get it behind you. When we refuse to let go of past pains, we only suffer more until they are faced, prayed about and surrendered. Why am I talking about this? Because those of us with depression and/or anxiety need to be aware that the devil wants to condemn us and make us feel guilty, but Jesus died for us to be free from condemnation and guilt. If we feel shame or hurt and repress our feelings, we’re only delaying dealing with them. They will manifest somehow, some way in our lives, whether it be bad dreams or constant anxious thoughts, or feelings of worthlessness. Let’s ask the holy spirit to reveal any buried memories that could be causing us current pain–whether realized or not–and help us to heal.
So, when I resigned from my job, I had a great peace about it. I knew I was making the right decision. Nearly three months later and I can’t seem to get my mind off having to eventually go back to work. My panic disorder has been flourishing as a result of my wrong thinking. I’m focused on what I gave up instead of what I’m gaining by trusting Jesus and keeping the faith that He works everything for our good and the good of others. Instead of living each day out, I wake up in a panic over everything. I am trying with the help of the holy spirit to live one day at a time, and to get even more granular, one moment at a time. So, the weeks following my resignation seemed full of promise for relaxation and some relief from the anxiety. But then I had a setback. I went off my medicine for a couple of weeks due to cost (this prescription costs over $600 per month without insurance), and landed right back into a major depression–or double depression as it’s called in conjunction with Dysthymia. I am back on the medicine and my husband should be getting insurance through his employer next month…alleuia! So, I found myself right back in that dark pit with the realization that I require medicine to avoid it. So, I experienced a disappointing setback, but I’ve decided that I’m not giving up. God never said the Christian life was going to be easy, but He did promise we could do life in His strength. Figuring out how to do that is part of the battle. It’s in the surrender. We are told to give it to God and not to worry. Back to the basics: stop with the nonsensical worry and start living in the moment and enjoying the life Jesus died to give me.
What do you think of when the phrase “Mental illness” comes to mind? Do you see yourself or have you compartmentalized it as something that is different? We all have something come to mind and that’s where the stigma starts–with us. We have to come to a healthy understanding that our brains are an organ and some of us require medication similar to a diabetic needing insulin. Depression and anxiety are considered mental illnesses and everyone has an idea of what those conditions are, whether it’s based on facts or assumptions. I’ve come across many people who think of depression as simply being really sad. Although that may be part of it, there are many physical symptoms of depression. Some will say anxiety is stress. Those of us with anxiety can tell you that it’s so much more than that. We can feel anxious even when there is no stress.
Ending the stigma starts with each of us with the illness educating ourselves and renewing our minds to accept that our illness is considered a mental illness and understanding all of the symptoms. And then, talk about it. Educate others on what it really is so they can change the perspective in their mind of what mental illness looks like and line it up with facts and truth. Be honest with your doctors and tell them every symptom even if it doesn’t seem related to depression or anxiety. Doctors and nurses very much rely on what we tell them. I flew under the radar for years with my depression, mostly because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I wish doctors would screen every patient with a few simple questions and then dig deeper if needed. Since there isn’t a blood test, doctors rely on our symptoms and if we leave information out, they could miss the diagnosis. I’ve talked to many medical professionals that have told me I don’t look the part. I didn’t know what was wrong with me so I didn’t know to ask the doctor about depression and to the doctors, I was a high functioning business woman who was very put together and well spoken; but, I was dying on the inside. My world was so joyless, so dark, and I was so fatigued and generally felt ill most of the time. The doctors recognized my chronic fatigue but never connected it to depression until I got really bad and went to a Psychiatrist, whom I still work with today.
I run a private group on Facebook and did a poll to find out how many people disclosed their illness to their employer. Most said they have not. Why? Because we’re afraid of jeopardizing our careers, or worse, our reputations. This is because the stigma is alive and well. The only way the stigma is going to end is with awareness and education. And, that starts with us. We know the illness personally and we have to talk about it to others. The statistic in the United States is one in five adults will at some point in their lives have a diagnosable mental illness. That means it’s very likely that you will meet others with the illness or others who have loved ones with the illness. Let’s pray to end the stigma by having the courage to start talking about our illness with others. God will use you to comfort others along the way with the same comfort He has given you.
While I try to be Tigger, my inner man is Eeyore. I didn’t realize that until lately. It’s as if God lifted the veil and I could see it. My inner thoughts have been thoughts of fear, worry, and yes, some superstition. Somewhere along the way, I became a bit superstitious because it seemed if I said something like “I haven’t been sick in a long time”, I would get sick. That translates into worry and stress, even though I thought superstitions were silly, I had some and it has caused me fear. I saw how something awful would pop into my head and I would then nurture it and worry about it happening. I would go to the family events, but it took everything in me to go. I dreaded it because I was starting to only want to be at home–my safe place. When I was at risk of losing my home, it caused me to go into a five alarm panic, literally. Since things started looking up, I thought this nervous feeling would go away, but it hasn’t. It has remained untouched by medication and I started to ponder…is this a chemical imbalance that is being resistant to medication or is this a problem in my inner world? I think I found my answer when I started to realize that I project one image to the world but my true self stays locked up. I’ve conformed to the world without even realizing it. I was comparing myself to other women and mothers and even other co-workers and trying to be the perfect everything to everyone. It’s no wonder I had a nervous breakdown at age 39! I realized that my inner man is more like Eeyore than Tigger. I aspire to be Tigger, so I am literally editing my thought life right now to train myself with the Lord’s help to become my true self. I’m letting go of political correctness and comparing myself to what’s “normal”. I am seeking my normal and my passions so I can live the life Jesus died for me to have. He did not die on that cross for me to live a miserable, pathetic life. He died so I can have life! Not just eternally, but a life here on earth. I am praying for God to help me so I can finally live–not just exist, but really live! I want to be Tigger!
When you suffer from anxiety, the biggest thing you crave is peace. Peace for your restless spirit. What if I told you that you can choose to have peace? Jesus said he left his peace with us. I have discovered that I have to choose to have peace. I have to choose to take one day at a time. I have to choose not to worry about things out of my control and place my trust in the Lord. The enemy knows our weaknesses and with anxiety, our biggest weakness is our lack of peace. So, I set out to find out how to obtain the peace Jesus promised us. And I found that I can choose to have peace. I can choose to get myself off my mind and refocus my thoughts to how I can be of service to the Lord instead of focusing on how I feel. I can choose to forgive. I can choose. A profound thing happened…I found some peace. It’s been over a year since I started actively suffering from anxiety/panic disorder. It was a long, hard year with very little peace or joy. Just recently, I felt my spirit was in turmoil between craving peace and experiencing anxiety. I made a decision to have peace and relax. I decided to stop listening to the enemy’s lies. I still have anxiety, but it is lessening each day as I practice having and keeping peace. If you are struggling with a restless spirit or an anxious spirit, try to purposely decide to have peace and sift out the negative thoughts from your mind. Focus on what’s good and practice a heart of gratitude. My prayer for you today is to have peace beyond understanding.
One of the first things my psychiatrist told me was that I’m human and I will still have days where my mood is low even on medicine and that was normal. Since I’ve been feeling better, I forgot his statement. Until I had two bad days in a row–yesterday resulting in me going home early from work. I was so discouraged and felt sorry for myself, so I gave in to it and cried and prayed for Jesus to help me. Of course, he did. I was reminded of what the doctor said and remembered that oh yeah, I’m human, so I’m still going to have bad days once and awhile. I let myself get discouraged instead of focusing my attention on my blessings and gratitude to Jesus for everything He’s doing in my life. I nurtured the low mood and anxiety until I felt so bad that all I could do was sob. I was suddenly aware that I was making myself feel worse, so I started to practice positive thinking and gratitude. I worked on a project and got me off my mind and guess what? I forgot I even felt bad! The rest of the day was better and today I feel good again. So, if you’re having a bad day, don’t do what I did and get discouraged. Start with positive thinking and start thanking Jesus for everything you can think of. Try to get yourself off your mind and do a hobby or do something nice for someone else. Depression and anxiety are part of our lives and medicine can help, but we are still prone to it. I know you can’t will depression/anxiety away. If it were that easy, I wouldn’t be on five medications to balance my brain to feel better. But, I cannot stress enough how important it is to watch your self talk and evaluate how you feel about yourself. If you have negative thoughts in your mind about yourself, you are going to invite your illness to worsen. I’m still learning to see myself through God’s eyes, but I’ve come a long way. I may not be where I need to be yet, but I’m making progress. My mind is being renewed. The Lord has been helping me realize what perfectionism is and how it invites guilt into my mind. He has shown me how toxic thinking makes me feel worse. If you’re currently struggling, hang on. Help is on the way! Jesus will help you through it and this too shall pass.
I have spent so much of my life waiting to be happy. I’ll be happy, when….it’s the weekend, my kids are more self sufficient, my finances are in order, you name it. It was a lie from the enemy that I bought into and it stole my peace and joy. I rarely felt joy. I typically felt stressed and impatient waiting for things to change so I can finally be happy. Guess what?! We don’t have to wait to be happy! We’re told in the bible not to worry about tomorrow. Jesus died to redeem us to himself and to give us life in abundance. We are told to live day by day as today has enough worries of its own. Stop waiting to be happy and start living in the moment. We are not promised tomorrow, so that’s even more of a reason to stop and enjoy today. We need to change our perspective and see each day as a gift and a blessing to do God’s work on earth. Quit focusing on what needs to change and go to God with it. Then, leave it with Him and enjoy your day…starting today!
We all get discouraged from time to time. Sometimes, it’s heavy to carry. It’s easy to go from a little discouraged right into the pit of depression. That’s why it’s so important to go to God when you feel even a little discouraged. As I heard a preacher recently say “pray and tell God you feel discouraged and then let Him decide who he’s going to work through to bring encouragement to you.” This is when praise and worship is important. And a remembrance of the things God has done for you in the past. Ask yourself, what is really bothering me? Get to the bottom of it and then take it straight to God and leave it in His capable hands. Sometimes, we have to make an effort to change our thinking from negative, self pity to positive, uplifting thoughts. Self pity and feeling low all the time kind of go hand and hand. Trust me, I know. God has been working with me on replacing my self pitying thoughts with uplifting thoughts to change my perspective. All things are possible with God. He’s been showing me how to put my focus on other people and get the focus off of myself. This really helps! I highly recommend doing something to help someone else out and just see if your mood doesn’t lift. See if you quit focusing on how you feel and realize you feel joy!