I had just given birth to my precious newborn son~ I had long-awaited his birth with great love and anticipation! Why then, when we arrived home, did I feel blue, dark, and sad……..for days? I am a happy, positive person! Why was I feeling so “dark”. I felt guilty and embarrassed. I reached out to my personal doctor who helped me walk through what is called “postpartum” depression. I found that experience scary and disconcerting; once it passed I was incredibly relieved.
It was in a small town in Northern California where my husband was serving as a pastor in a small church, I experienced the impact of depression once again. I had two small boys, we were isolated, we were poor, my husbands schedule was enormous, and I was struggling to see where I fit in this community. The darkness slowly began to settle in. As the church leadership became more and more unhealthy I became worrisome, scared, and lonely. The darkness settled in even deeper. I can remember the day when I called my mother who had always been so supportive; we talked for a half an hour when she began to say her goodbyes. I can clearly remember saying to her ” No mom, you cannot hang up the phone, I can’t promise you that I’ll still be here”. She remained on that long phone call until I could catch my breath and see a glimmer of hope again. Depression had led me to the brink of reactional and unhealthy thinking. It was scary.
In light of the recent passing of Robin Williams; a multi-talented actor and comedian, I was reminded of the power depression can have over the emotions and will of those struggling with it. I recognize that my depression was a result of hormones and situations that felt out of control~ yet, I have experienced just enough to know how scary it can be. Clinical Depression is really serious and to onlookers often makes no sense. A flourishing career and a history of great success could not remove the darkness that continued to settle into this actors heart. Drugs, alcohol, and other unhealthy coping mechanisms could not make this darkness disappear, in fact it only made things worse.
We are left to ponder the power of depression in the lives of those we love and care for. How can we help? I know I don’t have all the wisdom needed to be a definitive voice on the subject; I have dealt with many people struggling with different levels of depression. Here are some ideas that could support those who struggle with depression:
1. Talk about it, draw them out. Be willing to sit and listen, really listen. Encourage them to journal. Encourage them to find a counselor whom they can trust over a long period of time.
2. Pray for them. intercede on behalf of their un-healthy emotions. Believe that God cares for them. Remind them how precious they are to God. ( Psalm 139:13-16)
3. Get educated on clinical depression. (http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-resources) If we, or a family member struggles with depression, we must intentionally learn what we can so that we can watch for the signs and respond IF we see them.
4. Invite them into life-giving experiences–get outdoors in the fresh air, create opportunities for laughter, show you care.
5. Isolation is a response to depression; be mindful that your friend or loved one does not experience long seasons of isolation.
Ultimately, we all need each other. Learning about depression, finding helpful tips, being prayerful can make a difference in those we love who are facing this “darkness”.
Suicide is heartbreaking for everyone! Everyone! My prayer is that we will not lose another mother, brother, friend, or celebrity due to the effects of depression! 😦