(*I have been given permission to share this personal story in the hope that others might let go of the stigma behind mental health issues.)
My daughter, Peyton, texted me the other day begging to come home. She didn’t want to be at school and felt overwhelmed. Her depression was hitting a low and she was really struggling. To make matters worse, she had been confiding in a friend about the struggle on the bus when another girl, overhearing, leaned over and made a comment that she’d noticed something was wrong because it looked like she hadn’t brushed her hair in a few days. It felt like a gut punch.
I encouraged her to tough it out at least until lunch and if she was still struggling she could give me a call. The call came as soon as lunch began. She drove herself home and walked into my office. I asked her if she was ok, and she broke down in tears, “I’m so tired of feeling like this, mom. I just want to feel better.” As I hugged her, I told her over and over again that she would get through this. We would walk with her in this and that it was ok to feel like this right now.
The diagnosis doesn’t fall far from the tree. I was diagnosed with depression in my 20’s and have worked through the same kinds of feelings for 20+ years. I’ve learned that with medication and appropriate techniques, I can manage the symptoms and work through the ups and downs. I’m not ashamed of it. It’s just part of who I am. But over the years, I’ve had to learn to figure out how to take those lows and channel them into leaning into my Creator.
More often than not, when I’m in the mire of an episode I’m not thinking, “Take this to God.” I’m thinking how horrible this feeling is, how overwhelmed I am, how can I make this feeling go away. I want to hole myself up in a dark room under the covers. Sleep the day away.
But none of those solutions are really solutions at all. One of the first things I should be doing is calling out to my Protector and asking Him to cover me. It’s something I’ve had to train myself to do. It absolutely does NOT come naturally. But when I purposely call attention to God, I allow myself permission to stop trying to control what I can’t control and give it to Him to take on. Here are a few verses that help me when this happens.
“Answer me quickly, Lord, my spirit fails; do not hide Your face from me, or I will be the same as those who go down in the pit. Let me hear Your faithfulness in the morning, for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul. Save me, Lord, from my enemies; I take refuge in You.” –Psalm 143:7-9
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28
“He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may take refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and wall.” –Psalm 91:4
When I pray on these verses and ask God to help me through the depression or anxiety, it allows me to recognize that my hope is in God, that He knows exactly what’s happening, and that He’s walking with me through it. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m in the middle of a depression cycle. But it changes who I rely on in that cycle—HIM!
I encourage you, dear friends, if you struggle with depression or anxiety to know and understand that you are not alone. God is there beside you, fighting the fight. And you have friends here at the Iron Porch who support you, too!