"If you're not full of joy, then you must not be filled with the Spirit." This is the criticism I have for myself when I'm overcome with sadness. I've been fighting for a while now, trying to get back to the sunny disposition I had before stress and strife broke into my safe space and turned it upside down.
When I initially conceived of this blog, it was supposed to be filled with wisdom and encouragement from a life well-lived, surrounded by love and joy on all sides, abounding with contentment and peace. But, God had a different plan.
Apparently, He decided that I hadn't been through enough stuff. He didn't want me to use my stories of success at marriage and motherhood to draw anyone closer to Him. He doesn't need little old me or my little old testimony to bring attention to His greatness. He's amazing and wonderful all by Himself, and that's why we should be drawn to Him.
So, just when I thought I had it all figured out, several challenges hit me at once, one of which was the big M word. In times past, this feminine phenomenon was very "hush hush." But, thankfully we now live in a time when transparency and authenticity are celebrated. And, now I can just say it...MENOPAUSE!
Menopause + empty nest syndrome + failing businesses + family squabbles
This combination of unfortunate events drove me to a dark place that I've been trying to escape for a little while now. Depression is more than a buzz word or a trending topic. It's something so real that you can feel the weight of it. It's gripping.
And, it comes out of nowhere sometimes. I could be minding my own business when suddenly tears would start to fall from my eyes. My mind gets fuzzy, and I can't think clearly.
I tried suffering in silence, as many others do, waiting for the dark cloud to pass. But, the episodes only increased over time. For a while, I hid them from my husband, not wanting to bring him down, too. Then, one day we were riding in the car when it suddenly hit me. I couldn't explain to him why I suddenly burst into tears. That's when I knew I needed to do something.
How do I cope?
As one who prefers natural remedies, I exercised and took supplements in an effort to "fix" myself. I improved my diet by eating more fresh veggies and less junk food. I even asked my doctor for some hormonal help, which I was hoping I'd never ever need.
All of this had a positive effect, on the surface. But, something still wasn't right spiritually. I felt numb most of the time, going through the motions of life, pretending to feel joy where there was none. So, I started clinging to my foundation of faith...a LOT!
For 25 years, I was the only woman in a family with seven males. Knowing that they can't relate to my issues, I simply talk to God. I read His Word. I listen for His guidance. And, I write...a LOT!
A few weeks ago, I wrote a guest blog post for the folks over at Abide about my spiritual battle with depression. This doesn't have to be a losing battle, as I discuss in that post, also entitled Are you depressed?
If you read it and find that you're going through something similar, I encourage you to seek help from Above, as well as from your doctor. We need all the help we can get.