Have you ever experienced a heavy weight but you didn’t realise how heavy until it was removed? That sums up my life all this year. I have previously shared with you a little of my journey through depression and my hard struggles but now I can honestly say…
I suffered with depression for several years
But it is only now, this year that I have truly realised and accepted it. And I can honestly say that through accepting it, healing has begun. I don’t know why I fought it for so long. Healing may have been quicker if I wasn’t so stubborn and independent. I know depression is real and valid for Christian people and I don’t have an issue with that. I simply thought that I could fight it, that I was stronger than that.
I am a person who sees the glass as half full but also sees it as half full of a caramel latte. I always try to look for the best in a given situation and I’m keenly aware that many of my concerns are first world issues. I try to speak positively, knowing how influential negative words are and how powerful our words and thoughts are to our entire being. I am self motivated, reliable, passionate and energetic. Or at least, I used to be.
I’ve had periods of feeling ‘down’ or blue or unhappy. Don’t we all? But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about something much deeper. Something I could not talk myself out of, wish away, juice myself better, exercise until the happy endorphins took over, or pray through. It just didn’t work that way. Heaven knows, I tried. But all my trying only seemed to make the issue worse.
I feel like my whole being has been encapsulated by a black hessian sack. Everything around seemed clouded by darkness, as though I were only seeing the world through little pin prick holes. I wasn’t seeing clearly nor hearing clearly. And I’m being real honest here. I’m not talking metaphorically but physically as well.
I felt lost, so hopelessly lost yet I knew that my faith in Jesus was real. And I trusted Him. I just couldn’t see, hear or feel clearly. Nowadays, I still feel like I have a hessian sack that encompasses me. But now it is a light grey sack with larger weave. I can see and hear more clearly. Some days are darker than others but this year there are more brighter days than dark ones.
How It Started
It won’t make a lot of sense without some history to provide the backdrop.
- Immediate [step] mum at age 18.
- Four children born two years apart.
- My own mum passed away only a few months after our youngest son was born.
- I started homeschooling just days after her funeral.
—> —> Life continues. —> —>
- Teenage difficulties and prodigal child
- Constant moves (both house and state)
—> —> Rinse and repeat —> —>
Major lifestyle change as John went back into the army and we began our nomadic lifestyle, leaving friends and family behind. Four homes in a 3 years started to take its toll as we stopped going to church and making new friends. It was just all so hard to make new friends and find a church only to leave it a few months later. So I simply stopped trying and let the weeks morph into months and years.
By the time one of our children decided to forger her own path in life in 2005/2006 (I write about our journey with a prodigal here and here) we had lived in yet another two homes and two towns. No family, no close friends or mentors, no church family = no support. And so we went through the most trying time of our married life together but with no support whatsoever. We had no one. We felt totally alone. Even our homeschool and Christian friends seemed to shun us. I have never felt so totally alone in my whole life, as when our young child went for a prodigal walk. Had we been homeschooling in the same town for years it would have been different. Had we stayed in Strathalbyn all that time I know it would be different because we were all involved in the wider community, Church, homeschool and sporting groups. But that wasn’t our life. It wasn’t to be. We didn’t stay put. We moved and lost contact with everyone.
Homeschooling can be isolating.
Homeschooling can be isolating. It shouldn’t be and doesn’t have to be but eventually it became that way due to my life circumstances. In the early years, homeschooling was the opposite of isolating as I was a social butterfly! I created support groups. I made them happen. But after several moves, I became so tired and heart sick from moving that my emotions were wearied and I was empty. I just didn’t have it in me anymore to go out and make groups happen nor even to attend any that were already in existence. The constant moving really took its toll on me, physically, emotionally and mentally.
I always felt like it was a little better for John. It wasn’t better for him at all but it was different. He went out to work everyday and interacted with different people. Sure, they weren’t close friends or confidante’s but he would get out and away from the hurting drama and away from (what felt like) the constant scrutinisation of online, homeschool friends.
I will not blame homeschooling because I love the concept of home education. I cannot blame the Defence Force because it isn’t the DF’s fault. However, the combination of the two shaped my life so that it became the perfect environment for severe depression to set in.
So, homeschooling + defence life + prodigal youngster = Deeply Depressed Susan.
I still kept homeschooling and for awhile I retained my passion, but as depression engulfed me more, my passion for everything disappeared. I would have bouts of energy and I would work hard at trying to get better, get more energy. I’d start projects only to have them fall by the wayside later on, once the depression took hold and my energy levels drained. I felt like I had lost my voice. I felt like I wanted to share with others yet I also felt like a complete and utter failure as a mother and homeschooler. I felt like a failure as a Christian.
This may come as a surprise to some friends and many family members.
They simply didn’t see it because I learned to hide it and mask my feelings. After all, when you only see someone occasionally or at Christmas and they ask, “How are you?” do they really want to know that I am so tired I can barely get out of bed, that there is no light at the end of the black tunnel? That my whole life is running in slow motion yet I am still powerless to act in a way that impacts my own life? That every bone and muscle in my body aches compounding the chronic migraine headaches? I don’t think so. So I smile weakly and say, “I’m fine thanks. How are *you*?”
Fast forward to Sept 2012…
A dear friend was coming to stay with us for a week all the way from north Queensland. I was elated yet fatigued at the thought of all that energy required. I spent two weeks in bed, with bad migraines and fatigue and tiredness and aches and pains just before she arrived. I barely managed to clean the house two days before she got here. The two weeks in bed was a milestone for me. I finally accepted that I was not right. I didn’t know why or how I wasn’t but I knew I wasn’t and it was time to stop fighting it, and just accept it. Accept my weaknesses and limitations.
After Amanda’s visit I felt like it was time to start waking up. I still felt horribly fatigued but something clicked inside me – mentally and emotionally. I started looking toward the future. I compiled my resume, applied for a job, went for an interview, etc. I still struggled majorly with fatigue and tiredness, aches and pains. And I still do. But… the mental/emotional switch has flicked. There were also quite a few significant dietary changes I made at this time and I believe they have helped immensely.
During all this time, John had been away on course and injured his back. He has been on medication and generally having a pretty hard time of it all. Which means I have been too, in my own way.
Doctors have suggested Depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and more… and I’ve had various tests for this and that. Who knows what came first? My mental/emotional state or the physical state? I do not know. But, I think I am on the tail end of it. I sense the fog has started to lift… I’m not there yet, I still have some ways to go. But I know one thing – through my acceptance of my weakness, healing and restoration is coming.
This may sound dreary but it is my real life. I will continue to write about depression but from the perspective of what has helped and contributed to my healing.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…