I will never forget that late winter Friday morning in 2007. I opened my eyes abruptly early that morning and felt nothing. Without feeling any emotions whatsoever I knew something was wrong, terribly wrong but I had no idea what. I simply felt nothing. I attempted to cry out to God but my words were mechanical, as if I was reading from a script. I felt like a dead woman and yet I knew I was alive and even moving. One thing was clear. There was no way I could stand in front of my second graders today. Not like this.
Mechanically I awakened my husband and informed him that I was going to call in sick and that he needed to take a personal day because I did not trust myself to drive to the doctor. He kept asking me what was wrong and in an even, dead-pan voice, I kept telling him I did not know but something was wrong, very wrong.
I was able to see my primary doctor that day. She is a good doctor who takes the concerns of her patients very seriously. She did not disregard my concerns. If I felt something was wrong, then something was wrong and she would try to figure out exactly what that was... or find someone who could. All my stats were normal except for one thing. My blood pressure, which had always been normal, was quite high. That had happened to me once before, 22 years earlier only then it had been due to pre-eclampsia. This time, well, it was obvious that something was going on but the question was what?
Finally I was given a small dose of medication and sent home with stern instructions that I was not to be left alone and she was to be called immediately if things got worst. I was also supposed to come in for an evaluation on Monday.
Riding home beside my very worried husband, I wondered at my apathy. The only thing I could tell him was that I felt like I was sitting in the darkness in a waiting room. I couldn't tell him what I was waiting for; I was just waiting and I was surrounded by a darkness I had never known. I wondered allowed if I would have to sit there forever. Then I told myself that would be impossible. I might have to sit there for a lifetime but forever? No and I wasn't alone. God was with me. He promised He would be with me and as I quoted His Word, tears filled my eyes. Then, as quickly as they had come, they vanished.
My mother came over after I had arrived home. My husband and mother took turns praying for me and reading God's Word aloud to me. As they would read, tears would silently flow down my face, stopping when the words stopped. Truly the Word of God can reach us where we are!
As the day wore on, I found myself wondering once again if I would have to stay in this dark place for the rest of my life. "Please God, not that! Don't leave me here in this dark pit!" My prayer gradually changed to something else. "If I must stay in this pit, then I must but please don't leave me! I don't care if I can't see You, hear You or feel You. You promised you would never leave me nor forsake me and I am going to cling to that promise!"
There was no light. There was no music. There was no joy. There was not even any feeling. There was only the dark "nothingness" that surrounded me and my refusal to let go of God's promise. In the end there was no answer. There was only the belief that one way or another, I could trust God... no matter what!
When I awakened the next morning, I was hit with an overpowering jolt of joy that was so powerful that I leaped out of bed, singing and dancing around the room. My husband raced to my side, afraid that I had lost my mind! No, I hadn't lost my mind. I was only rejoicing that I could feel once again and what a beautiful feeling it was!
I believe that on that day, over ten years ago, God gave me a tiny glimpse of a monster named Depression. I am so thankful it was merely a glimpse but it was enough to convince me that this beast is very real and that it should be taken very seriously.
Truthfully, the Church has not done very well ministering to those who battle depression and other mental illnesses. We offer people platitudes, tell them to have more faith, there must be unconfessed sin in their lives, they need to cheer up, etc. We make light of their affliction(s) and that is wrong. Jesus never did that and neither should we. Instead we need to stand beside our brothers and sisters with not only our prayers but our support.
Why God sometimes "removes the mountain" but other times makes us "live on the mountain" for at least a season is a question I cannot answer for I am not God. I only know that His grace is sufficient and that though I am weak, He is strong. I only know that He keeps my lamp burning and that He will, in His perfect time, turn my darkness into light. I only know that He is the One Who Goes Before Me and that He will never leave me or forsake me so I do not need to fear or be dismayed. Those are the things I do know.
I know a few Christians, some of them are here on CB, who deal with mental illness and I have to say that over the years they have taught me a great deal. In fact, they are some of the strongest people I know. What they feel like doing is curling up in a dark corner and dying. Instead they do the impossible. They force themselves to get up and go out into the world. I watch them give aid and comfort to those who are broken and afraid, though their own hearts are breaking and they too are afraid. They are pressed, oh they are so very pressed but... they are not crushed. They fight fierce battles, sometimes moment by moment and yet continuously reach out in faith even in the face of despair and hopelessness.
These men and women have the courage to go forth for they have learned that truly they can do all things through Christ and He is their strength.