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Swizzle Sticks

Hello to you, and congratulations. For depression-sufferers, getting this far into doing anything can be a monumental task. I applaud your courage remembering far too well the days my "courage-well" was bone dry. Someone e-mailed me the other night and suggested I deserved a medal for the courage he saw in something I had done. It was the kindest thing anyone had said in a long time and truly lifted my spirits. In the spirit of that brotherly love, I commend you for a medal also. Welcome to the Christian Depression Pages and my personal testimony. My hope is the Lord will use these words to bless and encourage you.

My name is Kevin. I am a depression-sufferer, dating back, as near as I can recall, only a couple of years; this is all still pretty new. I'm a recovering alcoholic/drug addict, clean and sober today by the grace of my Lord and Savior. I mention recovery only because I believe it and my depression are tied together. Depression had never been a problem in my life, as far as I recognized, until after I got clean. Even then it took a couple of years to rear its ugly head.

Cleaning up left me without a crutch for support in times of trouble. I no longer had a way to "handle" ("run from") life's challenges and unpleasant surprises. That's when anger replaced addiction as a coping mechanism. It was a trying time for everyone around me; they understood what was happening even less than I did. Eventually anger became rage, and Carolyn, my wife, became fed-up; in January of 1997 she asked me to leave. We were separated for a year, but the Lord worked that apparent tragedy for our good. God was free to work in us, individually, and we were not distracted by the miserable environment we had been living in. We have been re-united now for about a year and a half. We still struggle in our relationship, but we are stronger in our faith of the Lordís control of our lives and marriage. Somewhere during our separation the first depression fell in on me.

Nothing in life had prepared me for the paralysis I experienced in the darkness of that pit the first time. Nothing has prepared me for the paralysis of subsequent pits, either. I have long asked the Lord to show me the way around these experiences, but He is silent. I have sought the Lord for courage to endure these experiences, but again, He is strangely silent. Does He not care? That question arises every time I am depressed, and at any other time in life my answer is a resounding "Of course He cares." But from those pits...

I have determined that if these dark clouds are to continue to swallow my faith and my joy, by God Almighty, I'm going to take something I can use out of each one. God has been faithful helping me fulfil this vow. Some of the things I have learned/am learning along the way:

All of these are impossible to see, hear, feel, or believe from the depths of the pit, I know. At those points, nothing helps; not past experiences, not past lessons learned, not consoling family or friends. Nothing. Although there is nothing good in the darkness, I have had some pretty neat experiences come from the darkness.

My wife and I have grown in the depth of our love and relationship as we give to and serve each other though my times of depression. I know more concretely today my wife's love for me, remembering her understanding and care as I have suffered. I was blessed to facilitate a depression support group and experience God comfort His children. We did nothing of our own power, but were faithful to show up. God honored that commitment with comfort. I am blessed to have met a fellow-sufferer who has become a very dear and good friend and brother in our Lord. Out of the blue, people tell me God put me on their heart to pray for me, and they donít even know Iím struggling.

My dad travelled a lot when I was growing up. He visited many foreign countries and travelled all over the USA. I remember his return brought a handful of new swizzle sticks (drink stirrers) to remind him where he had been. I collect reminders, too. Not because I want to go back or relive the black, but to remind me the Lord has been faithful to bring me through. When "nothing" is all you have, hope is all that is left. Reminders sometimes make it easier for me to hope.

My sisters and brothers, May God bless you and keep you; May God be ever gracious to you; May God grant you peace.

In Him - Kevin

1 Peter 5:10

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen

Copyright © 2000 Kevin.