My friend suggested I share my story with you.The overflow on news feeds of those who struggle with postpartum depression, general major depression and other mental illness weighs heavy on my heart. I pray every day God uses my story of brokenness and healing to reach someone at their end.
It is just after midnight in October of 2013. I am in the back of an ambulance, stretcher fully reclined. It is dark. There are no sirens. I can’t see anything. I am not dead. Actually, I am very alive. My mind is reeling from the events of the last nine hours. I am scared. I am lonely. I am singing songs of worship to keep from screaming. I am being transported to a mental facility over an hour from my home, my husband, and our three precious boys – one of whom is only almost three months old.
If this were a movie, this is the part that freezes, everything starts going backwards. The wind blows, books fly, flashes of memories go back to childhood and simpler times. Let me begin at the beginning.
I grew up in a happy home. Our family was functional and loving. Dad was a pastor in a tiny little town and my mom was a beautiful, sweet pastor’s wife. Somehow I felt off. I can’t remember a time growing up that I didn’t feel different, lonely. Yes, I had accepted Jesus as my Savior and had a relationship with Him, but I was sick and I didn’t know it. My parents knew I struggled as our home was filled with my mood swings, anger, breakdowns and anxious thoughts. I felt like the world was against me, and friendships seemed to never develop. I saw a counselor a few times as a child and teenager, but "it" was still there.
As a freshman in college, I finally went to a doctor. It was time in my life when there were a lot of changes and my mom encouraged me to see someone. I was thankful for the prescription that the doctor wrote, and thus began my often unbearable journey with clinical depression. Over the years, I dealt with it by taking medication. Sometimes I would feel fine and stop taking the prescriptions then I would relapse and have to start all over. A few relapses were worse than others. I married Carl in 2007 and he loved me through it all. God gifted him with extra patience and understanding that first year of marriage.
Fast forward to 2013, when we had just welcomed our third son, Stellan. At my postpartum appointment, my doctor agreed I needed to go back on the antidepressants. My baby blues booked an extended stay and weren’t planning on leaving any time soon. It was scary and painful and I began hiding from my children, afraid my thoughts would become my reality. I cried, and they cried. I can’t imagine how I made them feel as the days at home drug on. So, I made the choice to see another counselor.
When I went to my counseling appointment, they didn’t let me leave the office alone. After a discussion with the counselor, she called in another counselor. Looking back, I realize they were in crisis intervention mode. I called Carl and he took me to the emergency room. I didn’t wait in a waiting room that day. I went right back to a room where a guard sat outside for at least eight hours where I had a psychiatric evaluation. I had a caseworker. It was all a blur, yet time was standing still. And I just wanted to see my boys and nurse my baby. It was decided that I would go into a mental facility so I could get better. The closest bed available was over an hour away, thus, the ride in the ambulance. This was my rock bottom.
Thankfully, I admitted myself. However, I signed an affidavit that if I tried to sign myself out, they would put me in a 96-hour hold. So basically I was there until they said I could go. The stories I have from inside that hospital are for another time. I was able to get out in five days. I had lots of visitors, phone calls and my wonderful parents kept my boys and my sisters helped. The staff in the hospital was so impressed by the support I had. When I came home, our church family made sure we had food on our table for almost a month. I was given medication and scheduled an appointment with a counselor every other week for five months, and I finally got better.
I guess I’m writing this for two reasons. The first is for someone to know there is help. No matter what the problem or the pain, there are professionals that are waiting to give treatment to those who feel they are at their end. There are people, whether it is a church or other organization that will support those who need to know someone cares. I can’t stress enough how important it is to take that step and acknowledge a need for help.
The second reason I wanted to write this is because I want people to know there is hope. My story does not end with seeing a counselor every other week and taking medication daily. Early in 2014, a few months after my stay, I met with a friend and I told her my story. She, in turn, told me how she too had struggled with depression, but God had healed her. Now, I knew God healed. God healed cancer. God made the deaf hear. I had witnessed healings of others in my life. But did God heal mental illness? Over the next few months, I wrestled with this. I prayed. During the summer, I started getting sick when I took my medicine. I thought maybe the strength was just too high. But I talked to Carl and told him “I think God is healing me.” In October, I shared this with my doctor and she said she didn’t see a need for me to take the medication any longer! It has been a year and I still haven’t taken anti-depressants. This is the longest I have ever gone unmedicated since 2003. And even though some days are still hard, our marriage and family is happy! I am whole again and Christ has set me free. I am healed!
I hesitated to write this. I don’t want people to think I am seeking fame or attention. After all, it took me two years to write this down for myself. However, I want to make God famous. Revelation 12:11 says “and they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” WORD of THEIR TESTIMONY. I’ve kept it to myself for too long, unsure why God chose to heal me while others fight everyday. Yet, I can’t just keep it to myself if there is someone who needs to hear of hope and light in the darkness of this world. God can take you at your lowest point and He will carry you through. Today, I share that no matter where you are, no matter what you are going through, there is help, hope and healing.