Depression2

Written by cycleguy on June 23rd, 2014

Thanks to Kari’s contribution to the Second Chance series, I asked her to post more on Depression. Last week’s post can be read here. It was posted while I was on vacation so it was great she was able to respond to your comments.  Our approach was to do it as an interview. Here is her second installment.

What role did your husband, church, family, etc. Play in dealing with depression? Did you come to faith during this time, or was your faith instrumental in overcoming it?

Had I not had relationships that mattered to me or that I at least wanted to matter to me, I don’t think I would have had hope. The first was the hope of a relationship with God, but more on that in a minute. First, let’s address the other relationships mentioned in the question.

My husband joined this journey with me when I was only 5 years into it. You do the math, and you’ll discover we got together pretty young. I could never do justice to the junk (the kindest word I can think of to describe it) I put him through over the past 25ish years or to the patience he continually doled out. Simply put, he never gave up on me and refused to leave me. He looked me straight in the eye on more than one occasion and said, “I will never leave you.” I get choked up thinking about it. I realize today that him never giving up on me made me unable to give up either.

I grew up in a very rules-oriented church culture, one where God was this distant being who seemed more like a master chess player than like anyone who wanted me to know Him personally. So, the first 28 years of my faith life included what I “should” do, including believing in God. Around age 28, that changed. I began to discover who I was in Christ, and I learned that Jesus not only wanted a relationship with me but that He gave me His Holy Spirit to comfort and help me. I learned that the Bible was a guide for life and not simply a book of rules. This process of correcting my wrong views about God and seeing life from a full-Gospel perspective truly gave me a new foundation to build upon as I began to live more and more outside of the pit.

Not sure how to characterize my family’s role, so I’ll just dive in to some specific examples. My dad was absent a lot and pretty self-focused, which does not bode well for the self-esteem of a little girl. My mom always loved and accepted me no matter my emotional state, but she had struggles of her own that didn’t allow her to do more. My extended family was a non-factor.

My journey out of the pit really began after I had my oldest son. When he was a toddler, I realized that I did not want his memories of me to be ones of a depressed an unhappy person. So, I began the journey for him. My youngest son entered this journey only about 4 years ago, but it too was a pivotal experience in that he needed me to live fully and completely outside of the pit in order for him to not live in one himself. For him, I took steps to fill in the pit of depression that had been my dwelling place for so many years, making it no longer an option.

Now for the role of faith. I don’t remember not believing in God. However, I do remember not really knowing who Jesus was and what role the Holy Spirit played. Learning about relationship with Christ changed everything. My growth in faith coincides directly with my progression through depression and out of the pit forever. Depression was the trial of my life that drew me always closer to Him; it was either that or end my life. Realizing my inability to overcome on my own led me to realize my desperate need for Him.

(Note: If we had time and space, I would also discuss the role of Christian counseling as well as of the books I read in this whole journey.)

Kari will be here to respond to your comments again. What are your thoughts?

 

24 Comments so far ↓

  1. Daniel says:

    “Had I not had relationships that mattered to me or that I at least wanted to matter to me, I don’t think I would have had hope.” This basically sums up why I am where I am. We can all go without hope for a little while, but when that hopeless feeling lingers, when it settles in for the (seemingly) long haul, then thoughts of checking out become a regular thing to consider. I am glad that you found your way to a better place.

    • cycleguy says:

      Those words are priceless Daniel. Like you said “that sums up where I am.” While some can move through life and not be affected, those who suffer from depression need others (whether they realize it or not). Your daughter has given you something to live for as well. 🙂 I’m glad because that gave me a chance to know you.

    • Kari Scare says:

      Definitely considered checking out many times, Daniel. When I lost sight of any hope, that’s where my thoughts went. That “way to a better place” came through a lot of small things (pieces of hope) that added together over time to make tremendous difference. In other words, it didn’t happen overnight. Keep your focus on that hope, no matter how small.

  2. When I was around 13, my mom had a nervous breakdown. She never had the ability to take the steps to truly take the journey Kari has. I love reading this story.

  3. Zee says:

    Kari – I love what you said about your son and making an effort for him (and later for the younger one as well).

    And your husband rocks. I’m new to the married life (1 month+), but I am also discovering that when you have someone strong to lean on to, it helps. As well as being there for the other person when he / she needs to lean on to someone. In me, it boosts my own strength and mood when I know I can help someone and focus on them instead of my own problems.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • cycleguy says:

      A good mate does help make a difference Zee. No doubt having someone to lean on, and in kari’s place someone who believes in her and stands with her, is essential. May you and Sam always have that in each other.

    • Kari Scare says:

      My husband truly saved my life. The interesting thing is, I don’t think he really realizes the impact he had. Marriage is a lot of hard work, for sure. The one principle we live by, even in good times, is to never give up. He is a tremendously committed individual in every area of his life, and he simply refuses to give up on anything. God certainly knew I needed Him, and I’m so glad he was obedient to God’s call in His life too. Individuals who live with God as their focus make the best marriage partners.

  4. Jeff says:

    I am glad you are in a better place. I am curious if you think growing up with religious legalism contributed to the depression, if you got professional counseling and if medication is or was part of the solution.

    • cycleguy says:

      Those are good questions jeff. I am sure Kari will answer them.

    • Kari Scare says:

      Let me just dive into those questions. I’m not sure if the religious legalism contributed, but I do believe it left me absent of many of the tools I needed to deal with the challenges and emotions of life. Even with that, the hope of God being more than I knew at the time kept me alive. In that respect, knowing about God made a huge difference for the journey. Yes, I got professional counseling, three different times actually. Each one provided another step out of the pit. The first was recognition, the second led me to a physical problem (thyroid), and the third helped me develop mental and spiritual tools for dealing with emotions. When I was first diagnosed in my early 20s, I was on medication for a while. It did help in that it helped me see something other than dread. I have also done a variety of other things that I believe do what medication sort of does, but that’s another long story. Suffice it to say, I changed my diet, eliminated sugar, take supplements, etc. For me, these help balance the physical, which allows me to better process spiritually and mentally. I hope this all makes sense. I’m giving pretty short answers, since each of these is another post (at least) in themselves. Feel free to ask additional questions to clarify any of these.

  5. Meekly Seeking says:

    I am guessing it will be in a later segment but, if not, I want to be sure to ask it. If it comes later I’ll wait.

    For some reason, I’m a person that people often feel safe to confide these thoughts and feelings to. Even when they are still good at hiding it, I often find friends or friendly acquaintances confiding to me that they suffer from varying stages or depths of depression (both chemical and circumstantial). What are some directions one can go in these conversations that convey concern, love, encouragement, hope, comprehension (as close as I can get to understanding), etc? I don’t like to choose words that might have the opposite affect (which can easily happen in some cases).

    • Kari Scare says:

      While this is a topic I cover in a later segment, let me provide a bit of an answer here as well. Know that if you have additional questions after reading both, I am happy to answer those too. Having a safe person to talk to helps, though a depressed person often feels talking to anyone is pointless. My husband simply being consistent person helped tremendously. He just didn’t let himself get pulled down into the pit. One “mistake” he made was suggesting that I should just choose to be happy. He only said that once and discovered it was a bad idea when I said, “Don’t you think I would if I could?” I think the key is boundaries. Don’t let yourself get pulled into the pit, but don’t remain so distant as to seem uncaring either. Hope this helps. Again, feel free to ask more.

  6. floyd says:

    What amazing gifts you have from God, the fact that you realize all of them shows wisdom. Trying to be more to and for others is the purest kind of love and shows the heart of our Father. I admire that trait in folks like you.

  7. Caleb Suko says:

    Kari it sounds like God gave you just the husband you needed! That’s amazing! Thanks for sharing your story!

  8. Jan says:

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you sharing your life with us. You and I sound similar in that we have wonderful husbands who have supported & never gave up on us through this depression pit and we have grown closer to God and our reliance upon Him. Even today, I struggled to get out of bed and find a purpose, with christian counseling and medication I somedays just don’t understand why depression still weighs on me, I have a lot of reasons to be very happy. I know if it weren’t for God, my husband, children and grandchildren, I would have checked out long ago. We must stay strong in the Lord. Thanks again for sharing.

  9. Kari Scare says:

    I’m blessed to know that my story helps in some way, Jan. I do understand the feelings you expressed – lack of purpose, heaviness, desire to check out. It really is the small things that keep us going each day. And, it’s the small things – the footholds and handgrips – that provide the way out of the pit. Keep taking those steps. Never give up. You’ll get there!