Story of a depressed Christian
I had always been a quiet person, a bookworm. I had the habit from an early age of bottling up my hurts. It got them out of the way for a time at least. I became a Christian when I was about eleven or twelve years old, but did not take it seriously until I was about eighteen and left home for university.
My life up to that point have been described as being on the receiving end of emotional abuse. There were frequent arguments between my parents, and between them and my elder sibling. I developed the personality of a "blob in the corner", not thinking much for myself and not doing much either. Just reading, doing schoolwork, and absorbing the hurts that came my way. I tried to stay out of the way so I wouldn't get shouted at. I tried to excel at school hoping to gain approval. It didn't work, though I did get good grades.
At eighteen, I left home to go to University. I met my S.O (Significant Other) in the first year I was there. In our third year together all hell broke loose, quite literally; My feelings of worthlessness and failure had always been with me, and I felt trapped by them. I could not escape them and considered suicide. I stopped going to church as I felt I was being deprived deliberately of all the good things those surrounding me had, that God had abandoned me and I was second class forever. I could not find out what sin I had done to bring all this on me. I thought it was a punishment, and how unfair it was not to be told the reason behind it all. I felt rejected and abandoned by God, and it hurt.
I could not bear to be with all the shiny happy Christians at church when I was in such pain. My sleep was badly disturbed, and I was sometimes afraid to drive in case I fell asleep at the wheel. I was exhausted, couldn't concentrate on my work, couldn't think of what to do. I wanted to be left alone in the black hole I lived in. I was a mess, I felt that God had deserted me, that I was an irretrievable failure. There was no point in my doing anything, or being anywhere.
I wanted to find out the truth, whether I had been abandoned, whether God even existed, whether there was any meaning to my life. I decided to take the Bible as truth, I needed something to hold onto. I hunted for what God had said in the Bible, and found a few things that encouraged me to keep going. This was one of them, perhaps the one that helped me most:
Ezekiel 18: 19-23
"Yet you ask, "Why does the son not share the guilt of his father? " Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked man will be charged against him.
But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees, and does what is just and right, he will surely live and not die. None of the offences he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
This quote demonstrated to me that there was justice I could rely on, and that God is not sat waiting with a big stick for me to step out of line. I was only responsible for my own actions, not those of others. I could not be blamed for the things other people had done, and when others tried to blame me for their actions I knew it was a false charge that wouldn't stick. The fact that the wicked could be, and were, forgiven gave me a chance too, and I held onto that as my anchor.
Through all this, my S.O was there and supportive. Eventually I was persuaded to see a doctor, who promptly put me on a course of anti depressants, and arranged for me to see a psychiatrist. After about three or four weeks on the medication, the black cloud I was under lifted a little. The care and attention from my S.O in answering my questions and just putting up with me helped enormously. God had not abandoned me as I had thought, but I could not see Him from where I was, the hurt got in the way. I have had to learn how to hold onto a fact even if my feelings are headed in the opposite direction, in depression, feelings are not an accurate measuring stick. I have challenged my understanding about Christianity, down to the foundations, and have found that it is still true. Even from the bottom of the pit I knew it to be true, but it hurt too much to accept.
Today, I have been on the medication for five months, and have been told by the psychiatrist that I am 70% better. It has not been easy getting this far, and I suspect that the remaining 30% will be tough to beat. I am stronger than I was, emotionally speaking, and I think that my faith is on a much more solid foundation than it was before.
2 February 1998
Since writing the above testimony, I have come off my medication after being on it for a total of 21 months. It has not been easy, and I've had to have my dose increased, supplemented with another drug. and needed sleeping pills so I could get enough sleep to get through a day before finally being able to stop taking the pills altogether. I no longer see the psychiatrist, and given a clean bill of health.
8 December 1999
I have been back on antidepressants for just over a year.
3 March 2000
I feel like a normal person! The antidepressant cocktail is working, I can sleep properly again, the clouds are back in the sky where they belong, instead of just above my head.
13 March 2001
My doctor reduced the dose of one of my antidepressants because my sleep has improved. Regular exercise helped my sleep problem a lot.
17 April 2005
I am getting off the last antidepressant. Sleep is OK, and I feel good.