On Depression and Lies

I was out yesterday..Someone had to stay home and wait for the mechanicc to call. So, I took one for the team by going back to bed after the kids went to Elizabeth’s, watching copious amounts of netflix, reading an interesting article about Haiti in the mechanic’s copy of Roolling Stone, and meeting my man for lunch. I know, what a sacrifice.

Meanwhile, at my school, things were not running so smoothly. I had apparently scheduled a sub for only half a day, and then the sub did not make it to first period. So only periods two and three had an adult in the room. Those are the facts, the rest of the story has been cobbled together based on freshmen testimony.

First period decided they could watch what they wanted on tv and not do work if they were quiet enough, no one would know. They did just that. Second and third periods I had a sub. Fourth period was equally worried about me getting in trouble and them getting in trouble. So, they got out their notes, turned on the movie, and stayed quiet. That is, until they were confident they wouldn’t get caught, then they got chatty. I have a student in fifth period who is a junior. I have had her before and she thinks I am awesome. So, she took charge and attendance, turned on the movie, got everyone working, found an adult and told them there was no sub, and emailed me a report of all of this. Sixth period had a team teacher. So, it was covered.

The part of the story I should be focusing on is that most of my freshmen knew exactly what they knew they were supposed to do and did it. They did it so well everyone assumed there was an authority figure in the room to make them do it. This is a big deal, unheard of even. Apparently, I am doing something right.

But the right is what I am unable to focus on. It was the honest mistake that caused me to put in for half a day, not a whole that I can feel in the space between my lungs. This mistake is like a boulder that I carry underneath my sternum where it makes it hard for me to breathe, pushes the contents of my stomache to just below my throat waiting in the in between to ensure there is no “feel better.” Just wishing that I could throw up and go home, where I would undoubtedly feel exactly the same way about going home.

It is time to admit that I am depressed. Not the way we throw around the term when they our favorite show gets cancelled, or they run out of the flavor of ice cream we wanted three people before we got to the front of the line, but clinically (if mildly) depressed. I have struggled with depression on and off since probably middle school.

The strongest memory  I have of being depressed is my 17th birthday. I had missed school that day, and thus was not allowed to spend the night at my friend’s house. The girls that were going to be there called me from the band room to wish me a happy birthday, and  I started crying uncontrollably. Krysten’s mom called mine and twenty minutes later they were picking me up in the mini-van with a solemn promise to my mother that  I would go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Pizza eaten, cupcakes devoured, we went downstairs to watch a movie. Halfway through “Save the Last Dance” I went upstairs for more fruit punch and found myself crying uncontrollably at the kitchen sink. When Tracey came to find me and ask me what was wrong, I said through raking sobs “I don’t know.”

It feels like that again. I have better coping skills now, but the stone in my chest is growing to boulder size. My sister, (the counselor) tells me that depression is a very self focused disease. I hate that she is right, even though I recognize the truth in it. It is as though eyes of my soul are just a tiny bit crossed, so that the joy comes in fuzzy, the only things I can clearly see are my mistakes,  and the difficulty of the place I am in right now. And it all gives me a headache anyway.

I know that depression is an illness, that it has everything to do with the serotonin in my brain, and nothing to do with my personal moral failing. I am the first to advocate the “talky doctor” and believe in treating depression just like you would a thyroid condition.

But I also believe in miraculous healing. I was prayed over a healing from depression the summer of that 17th year. The man who prayed that over me did not know my name. I had not told him of the depression in my life. I believed that pray, and truly received that healing. I stopped taking my meds that day. Somehow 12 years and two babies later, my chemicals have reconfigured into the pattern I knew at 17. If I am honest with myself, I feel much like I did when I was headed up the stairs for more fruit punch and I still don’t know why.

It is easy for me to believe that it is because I am not spiritual enough. If I just read my bible enough, pray enough, cling to that promise of healing hard enough, I will be okay. If I am grateful enough, thankful enough, if I praise enough it will take the boulder out of my chest. I should be able to pry it out of there, cough it up, lay it at the cross, and dance away. But I cannot. Which only makes me feel worse, like I am depressed because I cannot get over what a spoiled brat I am. If I only loved God enough I would be healed. If I only trusted Him enough, it would somehow re-start the healing I already received.

These are lies. I know in my head they are, but they just feel so true. This summer I bought a jar of the St. John’s Wort that worked so well my Junior year. It took about three days for the boulder to loosen, if not completely drop away. Yet, I am struggling with taking it, as though those brown pills are evidence of my lack of faith. I should just be faithful, just keep going. But that should isn’t working…and my St. John’s Wort is. Whose to say God’s Mercies aren’t new every morning in the form of an over the counter herb? I guess we shall see…….

Disclaimer: St. John’s Wort works for me. We found that out based on the advice of a doctor. It interacts with quite a few things, so don’t just say “It worked for Abby” and down some.

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16 thoughts on “On Depression and Lies

  1. My dear child, please don’t look at depression as a weakness, it is an illness. God gave us the ability to deal with it by giving physicians the ability to heal. Put your faith in the fact that Physicians are doing God’s work….He chose them to administer to His people physically while He administers to them Spiritually. Allow them to do what they have been called to do, heal the sick. I have had bouts of depression, and if a pill can make you feel better, then take it and continue on the path that God has assigned to you. I take mega pills a day to survive…..If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here, pure and simple……I don’t believe its my time to go home yet, just as, I don’t think its your time either…..and its a strong person that realizes this and does what he/she has to do to make theirs and their families lives better…..You are one of the strongest, most viberant people I know…..its the weak person who doesn’t ask for the help they need…..sometimes, you can’t do it on your own….Love you….momma

  2. Praise God you are admitting this Abby!! We live in a sinful broken world with sinful broken bodies and God wants you better! Whole! and so do people who love you like me. Chonda Pierce is a hilarious christian comedian who has dealt with depression, you should check her stuff out. I once heard her say something about depending on meds like ‘would a loving father tell you – if you just had enough faith, were spiritual enough, you could take those glasses off and hop in the car and drive!’ Umm no! That made a lot of sense to me. Love you

  3. Take good care of yourself, Abby. Love and prayers headed your way… You’ve got a lot on your plate with very high expectations of yourself. But, everybody makes mistakes and nothing bad happenned. In fact, a lot of kids showed tremendous responsibility.

    Praise God for the St. John’s Wort and other medications that work for those of us who need them. I often compare depression to diabetes. No one would tell you to stop taking the insulin and checking your blood levels for adjustment.

  4. Dear Sweet Abby ……..Even feeling depression, you are magical with thoughts put into words.
    Please never feel that one should be strong or have faith enough to overcome illness, even temporary ones. God has given us His Son to save us, His Spirit to strengthen and guide us, and discoveries in the medical world to help us. I believe if we have the thought of what might be unbalanced in our bodies we need to pay attention and then, act to find some relief. There are so many body chemicals that need to be in harmony for us to feel ‘well’ it’s astounding so many people do!
    Wife of one, mother of 2, teacher to many…..you wear many hats. This means there is NO WAY to have much time for yourself and I suspect get enough rest. This leads to systems crying out for attention and perhaps intervention. Meds do help at lot with depression and I think you know FMS sets one up due for this due to low serotonin. Had a very rough phase myself over the summer but it has been resolved with a higher SSRI and a new thyroid med. I can so identify with what you are experiencing and want you to know you are a terrific and quite brilliant young woman! Will have you close in prayer for your finding relief from this heavy time.
    Please keep a post on how you are doing. Loving thoughts from your old piano teacher~~~

  5. I can’t believe your students were so fabulous! I’m relieved to know you are taking action to be whole. As you know in your head, the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of us are mysteriously intertwined. May you step into that knowledge. Take the herb with no guilt. I love you.

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  8. 1st–no teacher
    2nd and 3rd–sub
    4th-no teacher
    5th-11th-grader teacher
    6th team teacher

    Don’t you have a planning period???

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