Monday, December 15, 2014

I Am the Face of Depression

"For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you." 
Psalm 86:5
Look closely.  This is the face of depression.  I hide it well...
It horrifies me to think that I almost ended my own life eight years ago.  Today, I want to celebrate being alive not because it's an exciting or eventful day...not because anything really special is going on...but simply because it's another day that I'm alive. 

Eight years ago, I had been trying to get pregnant for almost four years without success.  I felt hopeless.  Every negative word you can think of, I thought it about myself.  I felt worthless...useless.  I felt like a failure...a loser.  I thought I was dried old hag.  
I thought that if I wasn't able to have a child my husband would leave me.  I thought if I wasn't able to have a child, my life wasn't worth living.  
I begged God to forgive me for whatever I did that was so horrible that He was with-holding a child from me.  I looked around at everyone else getting pregnant...getting pregnant...getting pregnant. 
That's it.  I must be so awful that I don't deserve this blessing.  Everyone else must be better than me.  I must have done something so unforgivable...that God is going to punish me for the rest of my life.
During the week, I would escape to my job as a middle school science teacher.  I would get lost in loving and encouraging my students--or as I called them "my kids".  After all, I figured that they were probably going to be the only kids I was ever going to get.  I was Mrs. Leeb or as some students called me "Coach".  I was the fun, happy-all-the-time, nerdy science teacher who loved them and who was way too excited about the Periodic Table of Elements.  I felt so good about myself in my classroom.  I loved who I was in that science room. 
I'm sure my students would have been shocked to learn that I was depressed.  I'm sure they would have been shocked to learn that on the weekends, I wouldn't get out of bed.  I'm sure they would have been shocked to learn that I would drown my sorrows in alcohol.  I'm sure they would have been shocked to learn that I avoided close friendships, cried all the time, and basically couldn't function outside of my science room oasis. 
I used my work to escape the realities of my life. 
And the realities were that I was depressed--though I would never admit it.  The realities were that at the end of the day, as I walked out of my classroom...out of the school...out to my car, I would hang my head low.  When I saw my reflection in my car window, I would hate who I was again.  I would get a sick, sinking feeling in my stomach.  I was no longer cool and fun and happy...I was suddenly overwhelmed with despair, sadness, and darkness. 
In an instant, I was the loser again...the failure...the unworthy, old hag who couldn't even do something as simple as get pregnant. 
My husband and I had gone through all of the medical testing and there was nothing wrong...there was no reason for our infertility...there was nothing stopping us but me.  It was all my fault.  I was the reason that we were never going to be parents...that I would never be able to call myself a mom...that my husband would never be able to call himself a dad...that he would never be able to play baseball in the backyard with his son like his dad did with him.   
As I drove home that day, I was done.  I couldn't take it anymore.  I couldn't keep hating myself.  I couldn't keep disappointing my husband and my parents.  I couldn't keep making everyone feel uncomfortable around me because I was the only woman in all the world who couldn't get pregnant.  I couldn't keep answering the question "Are you a mom?" with a "No" anymore.  I couldn't keep finding out that one more woman was accident.  I couldn't keep pretending that I was ok. 
I was not ok.  I was in pain and I wanted the pain to end.  
As I pulled into my driveway and into my garage, I left the car running.  I thought...this will be peaceful.  I will just fall asleep and all my worries will be over. 
But something stopped me.  I couldn't do it.  I couldn't end my life.  I turned off the car.  I walked into the house, and I fell onto the couch and slept.  I slept and I slept and I slept. 
I wish I could say that after that day, everything was all better.  No, it wasn't.  I still thought of ways I could end my life many times, but that was the closest I ever got to actually doing it.
But I can say that after that day, I got help.  I realized how serious of a situation I was in.  I got counseling.  I began to slowly move forward.  God began to shine His light through that darkness.  God helped me to learn to love myself whether I was a mother or not.  He helped me to see that being a mom didn't define who I was in His eyes.   He helped me to understand that my life was precious.  I mattered to Him.  I was His Daughter no matter what. 
I wish I could say that I never struggled with depression again, but I can't.  What I can say is that God saved me that day, and I'm so grateful.  God saved me from the lies of satan...he saved me from myself. 
I actually began to enjoy my life again and accept myself for who I was in that moment...mother or not. 

Had I ended my life that day, I would have missed out on the rich blessings that God had for me during that dark time.  I would have missed out on the growth and the opportunity to learn more about His love.  I would have missed out on not one, not two, but three children that He had waiting for me when I didn't even realize it. 


But do you know that during that five year struggle of waiting for them, I never once admitted to being depressed?  I never once used that word to describe myself?   It wasn't until years later when I looked back on that time, that I actually confessed that I was depressed.  I actually remember saying that word for the first time and it felt weird. It was like I felt too much shame to say it out loud that I struggled with depression even though it was so obvious(honestly, even now, as I'm typing this, it feels strange to admit).  But once the word came out of my mouth, I felt a little more free...because I was finally speaking the truth.   


I was the face of depression.  I still am. 

But now I know how to put on the armor of God and not allow myself to "go there."  Now I know how to seek God's light, God's wisdom, God's truth, and God's love.  Now I know that there is no shame to admit that I struggle with depression.  I know I'm not the only one.  Maybe you're the face of depression too.
Let's put our fears of judgment aside.  Let's talk about it.  Let's not hide it.  Let's admit it.  Let's confess it.  Let's not be ashamed of it.  Let's find freedom from it! 
Let's stop pretending that depression doesn't exist! 
Depression affects more people than you think.  Depression is real.  Depression can cloud your brain and distract you from life.  Depression can rob you of your joy.  Depression can isolate you.  Depression can lie to you and cheat you out of God's plans for you.  Depression can make you lonely and afraid.  Depression can kill you.  I almost killed me. 

And now you know why it's so important for me to celebrate being alive today and every day.  Now you know why each day is truly a gift to me.  Now you know why I never want to waste a day.  Now you know why I never want to take a day for granted.  Now you know why I'm so grateful to be alive today!!  
Father, thank You that You are good and forgiving and loving, and when I called upon You, You rescued me!  Help me to continue to seek You in every struggle in my life.  Take my thoughts captive and shout your truth into my ears and never again allow me to even think about suicide.  I need Your powerful presence when I feel lonely, confused, or depressed.  Help me to find joy and blessings in my day.  Remind me of your unconditional, ever-lasting love.  Every morning when I wake up, help me to feel truly blessed and truly grateful to be alive!  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

 To My brave reader--please share with me if you've ever struggled with depression by a simple "Yes" or "No" in the comments below.  Feel free to share more if you'd like.  If you do struggle, just know that you are not alone, God loves you, and there is hope!  There is no shame in getting help and talking about it!



  1. I've struggled on and off with depression for years... it has manifested in different ways... one time I went on a health kick (sort of) where I only ate salads and ran like 4 miles a day. seems healthy but it was me avoiding my feelings and my life. It was really extreme (for me). Another way was alcohol dependence... all I can say is God redeems and counseling/therapy is SO worth it.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Michelle. God is our Redeemer! And I agree that getting help no matter what that looks like for someone is so worth it! Praying for you and your journey with depression. I know that God always shines His light into all of our darkness!


  2. Christine, I have battled deep sadness but not depression but I know so many who do. Your post is so open and honest and I am going to share it on FB and Twitter because there are many who need HOPE this day and your story is one of HOPE - God Hope. xoxo Bless you and those beautiful children!

    1. Thanks for sharing my post with others, Susan! I love how God has used my stories to bring others hope! Hope is so important!

      Thank you!
      Blessings to you as well. :-)

  3. Thank you for this post. I don't believe that I have been depressed but I have two family members who daily struggle with a mental illness. Also a dear friend struggles with depression. I wish I could help her more. She is having a hard time trusting in God and is maybe even angry with him. She wonders when this season will end for her. Prayers for her and you today! Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. I agree that we need to stop hiding and get the word out about mental health issues.

    1. Tara--I will be praying for your friend. I totally understand the "wondering when this is going to end." God's timing can be so confusing in our earthly minds, but His timing and plans for us is so much bigger than we can comprehend! Everyone needs to feel hope in their situation. Our God is the God of hope!

      Blessings to you!

  4. I've struggled with depression on and off, too. It's a lonely, lonely place to be in. There is power in confessing it though, and bringing others alongside your journey. Thanks for your courageous sharing!

    1. Jill--it is a lonely place and it feels like you're the only one there, right? At least I know that's how it feels for me. No one else feels this way. I'm the only one. It's always so freeing to confess our struggles but then to also know that we are not alone in our struggles. Thanks for sharing with me. Praying for God to shine His light into your dark times of depression too!


  5. YES and YES there was so much more that I wanted to share in the post I wrote about depression and you have them laid out here! You are beautiful, and I am thankful you chose life! Your babies are beautiful like you, as I read this I felt like I knew you, and we were sitting having coffee. I cannot wait to read more of your post!

    1. Laura--thank you brave woman. God always does this to me when I write. I think it's going to be an "easy post", but He always challenges me to go to the dark areas of my life and share those things with others in order to bring freedom and light to all!
      Thank for your kind words about my children too. They are amazing blessings and truly reminders of God's love and faithfulness!
      Blessings to you and may God's light shine upon you each day!