Before I came to be a baby in this world, God knew me and knew who I was going to be. I remained perfect in His eyes and was in fact preordained before the foundations of the earth to be a brilliant light that attracted many people to the truth. He established a purpose within me, a purpose that would one day, when the time was right, come to be the driving force behind my passion for seeing God’s kingdom be established here on earth. He knew all of this and also knew of the trials I would inevitably face. We were never promised that our time here on earth would be ‘peaches and cream’. If anything, we are warned that our lives will be full of hardship and persecution. Such is the world we live in.
I personally didn't know this truth when I was a teenager coping with my first hefty bout of bipolar disorder. And to be honest, even if I had heard it back then I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention. Such was the intensity of my self-absorption. It would have taken God to whack me over the head with a steel frying pan before I looked beyond myself for help, answers and the truth.
You see, this blog is built on life experience and often compares how life was without me knowing Christ, to how life was when I accepted him into my life. But never about how life was without Christ. For even though I was not aware of his presence, and did not know who my Savior was, that did not mean His hand was not over my life. I can testify to the fact that God is involved in all that is good and oversees all that is not. When I was a teenager, eaten up in so many ways by the spirit of depression, God was equipping me all along with wisdom to discern what was happening in my world, along with courage and conviction to do something about it. He placed his loving arms around me when I was all consumed by the fire of first-puppy-love-gone-wrong, and gave me such an amazing amount of personal strength to see me through the deep freeze in my heart when I though nobody cared. I was never in isolation although at the time it felt like I was. I just couldn’t see clearly. And then God opened my eyes a little bit at a time so that I might come to appreciate who I was becoming....
If I did not experience these things in my life then I would not be able to explain to you how real and magnificent our God really is. And I can honestly say that I am genuinely thankful for this position I have found myself in. I am thankful for the experiences because nothing gives me greater pleasure than to witness and testify to His glory in my life and on this earth. I had to walk through those valleys before I could bring this message to you. Before I could even allow it to come to me. God was always with me, holding me steady and guiding me through the many traps and pitfalls the enemy placed before me. I am still here aren’t I? I am saved, happy, excited, glad and THANKFUL. God has been and forever will be, victorious in my life. You can overcome whatever stands between you and that peace and joy too. Nothing is impossible where God is concerned. Not even physical, emotional or psychological sickness. NOTHING!
There is nothing the enemy can say or throw at you that will change the truth in God’s Word.
For years I was tossed around in the storm of his lies. It truly was a miracle that I didn’t suffer the same fate as my mother, given the apparent strength of that suffocating spirit. The years leading up to her death were bad enough as I had my own personal issues that were afflicting me in full force. I was suicidal long before my heart was completely shattered. Many times God pulled me up out of the abyss, where I nearly drowned on so many occasions. He was the only force that could penetrate my black mind. He was the only presence strong enough to bring peace and hope to my dying heart.
Unbeknownst to me, the spirit of suicide had been alive and kicking in my blood line for some time and it just seemed that I was to be a perfect candidate for its infection. The fact is, this is the often the final destination for those who are seriously depressed. They either end up here, or knock on its door at least once during their journey. I know that we have visited this subject in even greater detail under the Suicide blog category, but as you can probably imagine, it is slightly impossible not to delve into the subject of depression, without touching on the subject of suicide. So lets just stop for a moment and have a closer look at this subject shall we.
Most people who struggle to understand the “dynamics” behind severe depression that may lead to suicide, simply suffer from a little thing called incomprehension. From what I have detailed thus far, suicide is inspired my several key elements (and probably several more that may have eluded even me – although I think it safe to say I am a bit of an expert on the subject). The physical: Either a temporary chemical imbalance of hormones in the brain or a more permanent imbalance which may be diagnosed as a clinical and sometimes incurable illness. The mental: The power of your mind can be used for positive or negative - and can destroy you if you let it. The spiritual: The victim has been catapulted into a timeless battlefield that has been going on for centuries. It is the enemies attempt at stopping that person from walking into their promise – by any means necessary. Playing with the mind, soul and emotions are just one of the painful methods used. The greater the purpose your life has, the harder the enemy will try to stop you. Then there are of course those people who just walk down that path because they want attention, or because they want to make some sick point to the world. Which is why the world never takes them seriously. Apart from the silly things we see and hear about regarding this subject, the three main reasons I have noted above are two very serious reasons why we should never underestimate this dangerous pitfall.
I was bombarded with all three and it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to what started off as darting whispers, and quickly developed into thundering roars. I was a sitting duck, and worst of all, I had no one around me to counteract spiritually, emotionally or physically – my growing will to die. I was alone in my world, geographically and internally. It didn’t help that I was painting a relatively sane picture to all those who bothered to ask. And why do we do this? Short answer: Pride.
Diary Entry 18th December 1999 (1 year anniversary of her death)
“I wish for once I could be normal. Have a normal life and act normally. Why can’t I just scream out all the pain inside and why do I tell people I’m alright when I’m not! I feel pulled in two different directions. The superficial reality of everyday life, (and having to deal with THAT everyday.)…and a deeply settled conviction telling me that I don’t want to be here anymore. I REALLY DON’T! I keep asking God to release me of my promises and thus the burden of my selfish feelings, for I won’t go unless he lets me. But it’s almost like I’m here for a reason. Something tells me I still have something to achieve in this world. It’s a heavy burden, one that I’d gladly trade. But in any instance, He won’t allow me to do it. Even though He knows it is my deepest desire. So I go through life with a heavy heart and accept my role as it is given to me. How depressing! But on a better note…I feel closer to God now and have regained my faith. I know I don’t do credit to his love but I am trying. I suppose writing stuff like this doesn’t help…but it’s just the way I currently feel.”
I like the ‘better note’ part. It is clear from this diary entry that in the midst of my darkest moments, God was there in all his grace seasoned Glory. He never gave up on me for one second, even when I was hell bent on giving up on myself. I wanted to go so badly! You would not believe how badly! Yet the faith that he had placed in my heart, the love that I felt for Him and the grace he bestowed upon my moments, was all sufficient for me. Its funny how even during the midst of this excruciating pain, and even though I wrapped myself up firmly in my own little world..... love and obedience for my Father kicked in. How I got to be so loving and obedient, I have no idea!! I can’t for one minute take the credit for that, as I wasn't feeling very ‘loving” at the time, and the “obedience” part was more like a thorn in my side. But it is clear as we read back through my diary entry, that even though I wanted so badly to give up, this love I had for God and my obedience toward Him was the greater scale. It was His scale, tailor made for me. Tailor made for anyone who dares to place Him at the center of their heart.
My Grandfather was our rock and when he passed my mother took it extremely hard. And then just over one year later, she gave up and consequently reintroduced grief into my life. I was in such a bad way, that the doctors dosed me up on several types of anti-depressants (this is not unusual, but it’s not really a cure is it?). I was so dosed up, that at times I would black out and loose all sense of time. One of the anti-depressants that was prescribed made me quite nauseous and dizzy. I would spend hours, and loose days on my bed not knowing whether I was coming or going. There was a part of me that welcomed this blackness. But then there was another part of me that couldn’t stand this mundane level of existence. It was a sad type of existence, even for me.
Until one day…..
I heard a voice. And not just any voice either. I was lying on my bed when heavenly thunder commanded me to GET UP. As I sat up on my bed (quicker than I had moved in months!), I felt a surge of energy, excitement and passion course through my body with such force that it made the hairs on my arms stand up. The feeling was completely overwhelming, I couldn’t even contain myself - such was the joy! This was the first stage of my miraculous revival. The next stage was just as exciting. It was like my mind was an empty vessel and God just started pouring desires, dreams, purposes and plans into my head – so much volume that if I were a cup, the liquid would spill over into the saucer, over the bench and flood the floor within a matter of seconds. I hadn’t been so filled up with positive thoughts since, well I don’t know when!! Finally I had a plan. A vision of a life to look forward to. God had given me a new wineskin and flooded it with new wine. The old me didn’t stand a chance.
God moved powerfully that day. He cut through my mind with a deadly and righteous sword, slashed up my drug induced stupor, and searched out a smidgen of life in my heart. I was taken through all the textbook treatment options, but in the end the only thing that could and did heal me, was God. This was the beginning of my faith-induced journey. This would be one of those defining moments in my life where God made Himself and His power known for three simple reasons. Because He loved me. Because He believed in me. Because He knew, looking back from the end of time - that I would rise above the things of this world and take my place. This is where I belonged, and this is where I would eventually end up. And He knew it.
I won't go into too much detail about what led me down the dark path of depression. If you've read any of my other posts you'll get the picture real quick. Sexual Abuse, Suicide, Drugs, Alcohol, Abusive relationships, Abortion, Abandonment...just a couple of quick examples of what went on in my life. The thing I really want to do is crack open a few brutal truths about depression that may help breed some understanding. These are facts that are intermingled with my personal experiences.
There are many different stages or levels of depression. It’s not as simple as ‘feeling blue’. And not as quick and easy as wanting to ‘kill yourself’. There are many different types of depression but I suffered from bipolar disorder which some say is the ‘incurable’ type. I believe many people living with bipolar disorder experience different symptoms, however what I am about to describe has been officially and unofficially documented by those who have suffered.
The thing about this type of depression is that logic, practicality and sensibility all loose their flavor to the point where none of the above can be tasted at all. All you can literally see is a great big black abyss that has no ‘proverbial light at the end of the tunnel’. None foreseeable anyway. The common analogy we often hear when depression is described is ‘a black pit that you feel yourself falling into and you can’t get back up out of it’. This is not just an analogy, this is a very real description of what life is like when you are clinically depressed except the reality is even worse. For some people, it’s not just that you can’t get back up out of it, it’s that you can’t see which way is up because everything around you is pitch black. There is no up or down, side ways, or other ways about it. You are trapped and lost, gravitating toward some unseen bottomless pit that crushes the very air out of your lungs and squeezes your heart to excruciating levels of physical pain. Hopeless ness envelops your entire mind body and spirit, which is the single most devastating feeling an unstable person can experience. And then comes the numbness. Once your body simply can’t take anymore, yet refuses to stop breathing, your soul goes into shock and neutralises all physical feeling.
This is the most dangerous level of depression, for although you can’t feel anything, that spirit of hopelessness governs your existence, and is purposeful in its bid to convince what’s left of your will and spirit - that there is no alternative but to end it all. For in its sick world you have come to live in; there is NO HOPE for your life, so what indeed is the point of living? It is a somewhat mechanical process, and even your everyday routine of breathing becomes mechanical. Almost like you are a puppet being manipulated by some invisible strings which are ultimately responsible for your life or death. I can tell you right now that there is no human power or strength strong enough to break through this level of infection once you get to that point. Every now and then I would chisel through the numbness and experience a feeling of sheer panic and agonizing fear at what I knew I could not defeat. At the end of this encounter, I would inevitably cower back to the comforting arms of numbness without even consciously being aware of the transition. I guess psychologically it was so much easier to deal with (not feeling anything than the shock treatment of raw emotion).
This is just a very brief insight into what life is like when you are faced with the challenge of depression.
I can only tell my story and share what worked for me. I can’t promise that what happened for me will happen to you, or to those you love. I know there are some key principles that will line you up for greater possibility. Like love, forgiveness, grace, prayer, faith, hope, identity, obedience, sonship….these are but a few that you will hear me talk about in greater detail in the following posts. Finding this stuff out for yourself and applying it to YOUR life is big enough (Thank God for Grace!). And even then you will always be a work in progress (You are your biggest challenge). Trying to apply it to other people who may or may not be activating these principles is a whole other thing. Continue to hope, believe, pray and have faith that God will hear and respond to your intercession because the truth is, God can pour out His grace on anyone at any moment. It’s His prerogative. But understand that He will do what He wants to do, in His own time and in His own way. x
Breaking the disease of depression over my life wasn’t easy. It took a few goes before I was finally rid of it for good. But God was the man during these times and dished out an amazing amount of grace through this process.
That first breakthrough was just the beginning. There were many more to be had, and I racked them up on my internal scoreboard which sounds silly, but I was a new Christian around this time and there was still a big part of me that needed convincing. It was hard for me to comprehend why a God of so much love and compassion could ever allow such terrible things to happen in my world – not to mention “the world” in general. And so I guess you can say I was a little hesitant to step out and believe in the things I could not see. He ought to prove Himself before I say AMEN to anything thankyou very much! Well I can say now, with the maturity I have gained over the years, that this is a wrong attitude to have. God does not need to prove anything. We are at liberty to test His word, but not stamp our feet and demand proof. It’s only by His grace and love that He even responds to such juvenile demands. He knows how we operate. Mostly by our earthly eyes, I think would be fair comment. But the essence of believing in God and His plans and purposes for our lives, is built on a solid foundation called Faith. Such is the Scripture; “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. 2Cor 5:7
If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains (Math 17:20). Metaphorically mountains represent obstacles, strongholds, impossibility, struggles, and challenges. This is where having the right perspective helps. If you see that mountain as being impossible to move, then it will certainly become a reality in your life. That mountain WILL become immovable, first because you perceive it to be, and second because you lack the faith to do something about it. Faith seasons your belief and gives you the authority to order that mountain to move and get the hell out of your way! But wait....maybe your not supposed to move the mountain. Maybe it has been put there for you to climb it. To ascend to new and higher levels in your life in order to SEE the greater plans and purposes God has for your life. Don't be so quick to order that mountain away...the view is always better from the top anyway! So whether you have to move them or climb them, do not despise the mountains - they are put there to grow and stretch your faith.
Depression is just another Mountain. Begin now with your seed of faith!
"For some people, it’s not just that you can’t get back up out of it, it’s that you can’t see which way is up because everything around you is pitch black. There is no up or down, side ways or other ways about it. You are trapped and lost, gravitating toward some unseen bottomless pit that crushes the very air out of your lungs and squeezes your heart to excruciating levels of physical pain."
"Most people who struggle to understand the “dynamics” behind severe depression that may lead to suicide, simply suffer from a little thing called incomprehension."
"You see, this book is built on life experience and often compares how life was without me knowing Christ, to how life was when I accepted him into my life. But never about how life was without Christ. For even though I was not aware of his presence, and did not know who my Savior was, that did not mean His hand was not over my life. I can testify to the fact that God is involved in all that is Good and oversees all that is not."
"But it is clear as we read back through my diary entry, that even though I wanted so badly to give up, this love I had for God and my obedience toward Him was the greater scale. It was His scale, tailor made for me. Tailor made for anyone who dares to place Him at the center of their heart."
"This would be one of those defining moments in my life where God made Himself and His power known for three simple reasons. Because He loved me. Because He believed in me. Because He knew, looking back from the end of time - that I would rise above the things of this world and take my place."