Some years ago a counselor told me he believed I had “Chronic Depression”. I refused to get help, because I did not believe that there was anything anyone could do. That is one of the dangers with depression. You feel as if there is no hope , no solution, no way things could ever change. It doesn’t really matter what triggered the depression. It is different for everyone.
I spent about one year trying to escape reality. There were long periods when I slept almost all the time, and then there were days when I could not sleep at all. When I was awake I would play computer games and watch TV, because then I did not have to think. I am thankful for the composing jobs I did during that time, because those gave me a reason to get up in the morning and do something productive. Nathan took care of the children and our home. I am so thankful that he loved me through all of this. I am thankful to God that our family did not fall apart.
About one year later I had a wake-up call. My youngest daughter, who was 4 at the time, asked if we could play. I always used to say no, but for some reason I said yes this time. She handed me a doll and her doll said to mine “Do you want to see my mom? She lives upstairs in her bedroom. That is where she sleeps. We can’t wake her up because then she gets angry, but when I miss her too much I stand in the doorway and watch her sleep for a while.” I realized she was speaking of me. She was describing her own life. I realized I was slowly but surely losing my family. In a sense, I was missing life as it happened all around me.
I called my doctor and asked for help. That was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Last spring, a couple of years after I had realized I needed help, I woke up one day and thought to myself that it was going to be a good day. That was when I knew things were getting better. I had not sincerely thought life could be good for so long – it was a surprising and wonderful feeling.
I did not embark on this journey alone.
There were a couple of people that I trusted greatly that I knew I could talk with at any time about how things were that day. People I knew I could be totally honest with. I knew they would listen, love me, and give healthy advice. I leaned heavily on my faith. Part of that was to read the Bible every day and go to church on Sundays. I spent time outside every day, even when it rained. Instead of thinking of the past, or worrying about the future, I tried to be in the moment. Enjoying the beautiful nature, the laughs from my children, the fragrance from the flowers, the crunch I heard every time I stepped on gravel etc. I also read several books. One, that I would highly recommend, is “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie. I also want to mention the non-profit web site https://joepanic.com/, a resource for anxiety disorders and depression. I heard about this site last fall during a conversation with a colleague who founded the site after having found a way out of anxiety and depression himself.
Why am I sharing these personal things with you? Because depression makes you hide yourself from the world. I cut myself off from family and friends. I hid in my dark corner. I don’t want to hide anymore. There are certain things I will never share. You don’t need to know the details. But I know there are people out there, maybe you, who needs to know that there is hope. If sharing some of my journey will help someone, then it is worth it.
If you are struggling with depression, or anxiety, I want to encourage you to get help. Reach out to a friend or two that you can trust who can support you. If you are in crisis or think you may have an emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency room, or call 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a trained counselor.