Having never shied away from transparent topics, I’m coming clean: I’ve been struggling. The last two years have been the most difficult of my life, and the life of my marriage with Greg.
It’s been a hard road.
When he was shot two years ago this month, I could not fathom how much the shooting would change me. Him. Us. Our family. Relying on my faith, I was not prepared for the slow dive into what I did not see coming: full-on depression.
Reading that last sentence has made me realize that I have been relying on my faith – instead of Christ. When we’re told so often that we’re to be commended for our faith, or how strong our faith is – our faith tends to become an idol. It’s not Christ we’re focusing on at that point – it’s our own faith in Christ.
Last week I made an appointment and saw my primary care physician. She took bloodwork. She listened. She is our family doctor, so she is extraordinarily aware of the situation we’re all in. It is extremely helpful that she is a believer, a Christ-follower. She told me that she’s going to add a medication to help me get out of the pit, and said, “Terrie, even Jesus used mud to heal.”
Jesus told that man that he would be healed if he would go and wash that mud off. The man replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see,” [John 9:11]. I don’t think the mud had anything to do with the healing – I believe it was the act of obedience on the part of the man, to trust Jesus enough to do what He said to do.
I have been feeling the downward spiral into depression for a year now, maybe longer. It has become much worse the last few months with the emotions that come with court dates and seeing the perpetrators in the courtroom. Financial struggles have hit us hard and make me want to apologize for affiliate links, although they have been largely unsuccessful, on Near Your Altar’s social media sites. Issues with children, my health, my mother, the house – all of these factors and more avalanched and killed what hope I thought I had.
Still, throughout this past year, friends and family at church and on social media would comment: “I envy your strength!” “You’re amazing!” “I couldn’t handle what you do!” “You’re still smiling!”
Little did they know: behind the smile I have been crying and screaming inside. Friends will ask what they can do for me. Truly, I have no idea what to say to this. “How can we pray for you?” they will ask. How do you say, Everything?
Depression creeps up on you. There’s sadness, which is sudden and takes your breath away. But depression is sadness mixed with being overwhelmed mixed with hopelessness. It’s despair. It’s a pit that you’re trying to claw your way out of but all the dirt is coming back on your face and pushing you down.
And you’re still smiling.
During the last month, I lost interest in writing – that’s when I knew it was bad. I didn’t want to work on the book I’m writing; I had no interest in blogging; Bible study was infrequent. I found that I could easily find my Bible on Sunday mornings because it was right where I left it, unmoved and unopened, the last Sunday when I came home from church. That’s when I knew I needed help.
I prayed. I devoted time to reading the Psalms, like 55:1-2 – “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught.” Knowing I was under spiritual attack, I prayed Psalm 139:5 – “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”
Making the decision to call the doctor was huge. I don’t like admitting I need help. I also knew, because of the Stephen’s Ministry training I completed, that depression was not going to just go away – that Jesus was telling me that I needed to obey Him, and that, like the shooting, He had a plan for this.
It seems like everything Christ brings me to, He brings me through, to encourage you.
So I called my pastor in charge of the counseling center, and made an appointment to talk with a therapist. I started taking the medication the doctor prescribed. I still don’t know how to ask for help.
This has been a learning curve – having depression while in the Body of Christ. I’ve figured out there’s a definite stigma about it. We don’t want to face that sometimes life is so hard, yet there’s a mask you put on for the good of everyone else, to encourage others, to somehow show satan he hasn’t won yet…but behind the smile, deep down…. There’s a hurt there that only Jesus can touch.
There have definitely been some things I’ve learned during this season that I’m still in, and I want to share how to minister to people in the Church who are suffering from depression.
The Lord Jesus cares for the broken-hearted, and He has shown that time and time again these last two years. It has not been as immediate as it was in the first month of my husband’s paraplegia, but it is steadfast.
People ask me a lot how they can pray for us. Here is a list of requests and praises that can be offered up in prayer to our Lord. We are forever grateful for your prayers on our behalf.
© 2017 Terrie McKee
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