Have you ever experienced something that you never want to experience again?
Have you ever been to a place that you would never visit a second time?
That’s the way it’s been with my depression and anxiety.
It was so bad in 2001 that I was close to suicidal.
I’m sure it was coming on for a while before it got to the crisis part, but I didn’t know what was happening.
At its worst, this is what would happen every morning before work. I was alone in the house. The rest of the family had gone their own ways.
I would stay in bed for as long as possible.
I was scared to go to work. I was scared to go anywhere, even out of bed.
I had started a new job that I liked a lot with more money. I wasn’t afraid of the job. I liked my co-workers and they liked me. But I was scared.
After I finally got out of bed and got dressed, sort of on automatic, I would have to go sit down on the couch in the den.
My chest would hurt. Not like a throbbing pain, but more like lightening as it streaks across the sky.
The pain would start on my left side and then, in a very jagged, abrupt way, go to my right. It was hard to breathe.
I had to talk myself into going to work.
I thought I was losing my mind. I didn’t know what was happening, and I was scared.
I had a running monologue inside my head, constantly telling me to act natural. Don’t let anyone know anything is wrong. They can’t know, it will be embarrassing, and then what would I do? What would I do? What would I do?
I would obsess about what to do next. I would have wild thoughts banging around in my head. I was so scared.
I would finally talk myself into going to work, driving about 10 miles to the office. I was desperate to act normally. They couldn’t know. It was unthinkable, unbearable. They must not know.
At lunch, I would drive a few miles to Taco Bell, use the drive through, get a Mexican pizza and a drink, drive straight into a parking space, and sit there trying to eat a little, and obsess about having to go back to work after lunch.
So anxious. Chest hurting. Thinking I was losing my mind.
What would I do? What would I say? What would I do? What would I say? Vicious, vicious, unrelenting words.
Only because I was frantic to appear normal, I would talk myself into going back to work on time.
It was so hard to leave that parking lot. How I wanted to stay there forever…
I must act normally. No one can know this awful secret.
Except my close friend Margaret. She encouraged me greatly to see my doctor.
She said he would ask me questions like “Have you lost interest in things you normally enjoy?” or “Are you sleeping a lot more or a lot less?”
I went to the doctor and told him that a friend of mine thought I might be depressed. I had seen this doctor for years. He knew me well.
He looked at me and said, “Well, I guess you could be depressed. Do you think you are?”
Unfair question. I wasn’t coping. I couldn’t tell him what I thought. I didn’t know what I thought.
I was afraid the vicious words swirling around in my head would come out of my mouth, so I just shrugged.
He gave me a prescription for an antidepressant. I had it filled. Although I started to feel a little better after a few weeks, the side effects were not good. I changed antidepressants a couple of times before I had one I could live with.
I started to come out of that dark, desperate pit. I didn’t make it all the way out, but it was better.
My anxiety ramped way down, for which I was incredibly grateful. I started to interact with the folks around me in a more natural way.
In my attempt of appearing normal, I had shrunk away from contact with others. It was exhausting trying to stay put together so my secret wouldn’t get out.
It would have been so good to go to bed and stay there. I was so close to doing that before I started the meds.
After five years of taking several different antidepressants, I got stuck kind of in between being depressed and feeling normal. I was at least to the point where I knew I needed some professional help.
I started seeing a psychiatrist I had worked for years ago. She changed my medication and saw me every 2 or 3 months for the next 10 years.
The medication change was just right, and I began to feel so much better. Talking with her helped just as much. She saw me through more than one crisis, and helped me with issues from my past.
I told her that I wouldn’t take my own life because of my faith. Even in my worst moments, I knew there was hope in Christ. If not for that, I might have tried it.
But I just knew – in a purely intellectual way because my emotions were smothered by the depression – that God was there and He would get me through.
I didn’t know how or when or why He had even allowed this to happen to me. But I knew He would save me. Again.