Before I tell any part of this story, I’d like to say a small word to those of you readers who will feel uncomfortable with the topic—those of you who see depression as sin, a problem that could only be spiritual in nature. Depression can be sin. There are numerous Biblical examples of people who walked in emotional darkness, and while some experienced depression as a result of rebellion and disobedience to God (King Saul), others experienced deep sorrow (Hannah) or dark exhaustion (Elijah) as godly people, imperfect.
Please know I’m not presenting a case for depression—I don’t like depression, myself; wouldn’t recommend it to a pig—but I have a story to tell: a story with some deep blackness; a story of redemption and healing as Jesus keeps working in me.
Some of the places I went in my mind were very wrong. But glory to Jesus can only be unleashed when I accept my experience for what it is; and how much more when I allow others to glimpse what He has done for me! “Should Christians struggle with depression?” becomes slightly immaterial in light of the fact that many of them do…
And to those of you brave enough to admit a similar struggle— please know I am not putting you in the same box I emerged from. Your story may be very different.
Once upon a time—not ten years ago, nor twenty, but exactly two, if you want to know the truth—I sat in a doctor’s office.
I was there for two reasons—to get some input on the hyperactivity issues of my three-year-old son, and to get some health advice for the seasonal depression I was experiencing. I was afraid. Afraid to be honest about how bad both issues were—how unusual my son’s behavior was, and how intensely dark I was feeling. My husband and I sat there, side by side, talking to our doctor first about Regan.
The conversation went really well, and I began to relax. She listened well. She was puzzled, like us, but she didn’t freak out.
We talked for a long time. Then she said, “Now, tell me about this other issue—how you feel in the winters.” I began, falteringly, to talk about it, trying to put it into words.
She began to frown.
The first question she asked was, “How bad is it in your worst times?”
“Well,” I said softly. “Uh. In my worst times I have to make myself stop thinking about ending my own life.”
She barely gave me time to catch my breath. Just like a whiplash across the room, she flung her second question: “How would you do it?”
And I froze. Because that was the one question she was not supposed to ask.
I knew exactly how I would do it.
When I titled my blog “Confessions of a woman learning to live” I wasn’t just whistling Dixie.
More next time.
I want to weep. You’re a brave LADY.
I AM weeping. This just hits too close to home.
Praying for you as you continue to write. You are ministering to those of us who understand, and I pray that you will open the eyes of those who do not. God be with you.
Well said, Joanna. Shari, you are a beautiful lady – this kind of vulnerability touches us all. I pray for protection for your heart as you minister here…
I am weeping…. the feelings and pain. God bless you as you share.
There are tears in my eyes and I keep checking this blog looking…waiting for the story…and yet struggling with you because not so long ago…just a few short months ago I went thro the very same thing…struggling with sharing my story…not on a blog but standing…publicly in front of lots of women, old and young at a seminar…not just about depression but my whole life story…it.takes.alot.of.courage. Hugs Shari
Thanks for sharing your story…I am very interested in hearing more. I grew up in a family where we had very little time for emotional weakness and, to a wounding fault, did not have sympathy for those who did. As a result, I eventually came to a place of dissolving, falling apart, crashing, because I had not been comfortable with knowing my own dark side, my own weakness. I don’t know that I have ever been depressed, but I applaud you for your journey, for struggling through it, and for finding answers. I am very much looking forward to the rest of this story! Thanks for being vulnerable. hugs!
Wow. There have been many, many times i wished i could “check out” of my life, too… but most of my thoughts were of getting away – like going to another state, or to live with a friend (but who??) for several months or a year – just to not have to “be me” anymore, and have to live my life. I was just plain tired of everything, felt i could never measure up, and didn’t want to do it anymore. I realize now i was depressed for most of my life. And winters were definitely the worst.
I don’t judge you in the least, Shari. I just want to give you a long, tight hug.
I just hope you can realize that even though this is so difficult for you not only experience but to share with others, you are helping people and empowering them to help themselves. Sometimes we think we know why God wants us to go through something, and right now I’m thinking part of why you were/are going through this is to be a light to others – and in doing so be a light to yourself. You’re such a sweetie and so brave for doing this.
As shocking as that question seemed from the doctor of “how” you would do it, that’s a very common question when dealing with depressive and suicidal feelings. It’s one of the determining factors between say, “the blues”, and real depression. I love that I found your blog. ♥
So glad you’re writing. I’m glad I can hear the inflections in your voice. 😉
Like Anita, I always ‘Hear” you reading. 🙂
I am waiting quietly. This story has been begging for some time. What BethR said…
Thank you for being brave enough to share. Like I said earlier, I struggle with SAD, but I don’t think it brings on a real deep depression- more like the blahs, lack of energy and motivation. It’s not the deep scary kind. I have had the deep, scary depression. Like GrandmaKitty, I would struggle more with wanting to run away from my life, wrongly believing that somehow my situation was making me feel this way. It’s “good” to know I am not alone- others have gone through this and survived. (I don’t feel completely healed, but it’s so much better than it was). I look forward to hearing the rest of your story. Praying for you as you share with us.
I’m so looking forward to your story. I thought I was just tired and weary but as time moved on and I couldn’t grab a hold of my life I realized there might be more to the story. So this has really grabbed my attention. May God richly bless you as you share.
Just a little who I am, Ryan taught school here at Hayward, WI and I know your parents from Bible School. ( I am sure you hear that lots!)
Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability. We need both far more often in our pretend-I’m-perfect Mennonite world.
I’ll be back to read more.
Shari, Thank you for sharing your heart so deeply. You are very brave indeed! Your vulnerability makes me think and ponder…. and more willing to go to my own deep, dark places. Tears~because I can feel the pain. Maybe not this particular story but a different story. Thank you again. I join the others in praying for your heart as you open yourself to us. God is here!
I am also a follower of Jesus, and a Menno, too, for that matter. My ramble in depression lasted twenty years, starting about age 9. It was seasonal, too, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. I was only suicidal once, but that moment came, ironically, on the bus with 40 other young people on a choir tour, a week and a half of ministry in churches and prisons.
I remember very clearly that afternoon, the darkest moment, thinking through my options, inventorying the tools at hand, thinking through how to minimize the gore for those who would find me. And I remember also that I was surprised how normal and calm it felt to be thinking through how to end my own life. There was no fear or any other emotion, just a sense of focus and purpose.
I look back more than a decade later and I am grateful that God gave me the sense to tell a friend, and to give her the knife. I am not so much horrified by the fact that I thought about suicide, but that I thought about it in much the same way I would plan to fix a meal or organize a closet. It was something that needed to be done, but done properly.
You’re not alone, Shari. I’ve been there, too.
Ah, brave woman. I never knew you hated Plain City . . . but honestly? There are a lot of reasons that spring instantly to my mind of why I would have hated it . . .
And I well, well remember my own first year as a married woman in a completely new community, state, culture, church and every thing else. I sometimes thought that it was strange that something that also made me wildly happy could also be so bitterly full of tears and some of the worst moments of my life in many ways . . . (worse ones would come later, and yet in some ways, I will still always consider those my worst.) I’m glad that God can still drag us along even in our darkest hours . . . even when we don’t realize that is what he is doing. HUGS and MORE HUGS, and I’m thanking you for keeping it real . . . and praying for God’s protection to you right now.
I am so glad to know I am not alone. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your story.. something I haven’t yet been brave enough to do.
I haven’t been online in a few weeks, and to check your blog and read your candid story about depression…! I’m blessed and touched. I’ve been depressed, too, and I understand where you’re coming from.
God bless you for being brave enough to write about this, Shari. I mean that so much.
I see the glory of God reflected in the honest struggle to walk through the pounding of the currents of this subject, not just subject, but actual life experiences. To seek out the blessings of God in this messy beautiful. I too have battled with this depression & the wanting to end the life but glory to God for His mercy & grace! His mercies are new every morning & GREAT is His faithfulness for HE IS FAITHFUL!