This blog has not been easy for either of us. Disclosing our hearts and experiences wasn’t something we ever though about or had a desire to do, but what we did want to do was touch God’s people. What we did want to do was see change in our world and in our Church and if that meant disrobing our pride and revealing our own struggles, then here we are!
We hope this series on the realities of anxiety and depression will touch someone to say, “Hey, I feel that way too,” and just know that you are not alone. If 1 in 4 women struggle with anxiety and depression, chances are you struggle with it or know someone who does. We are not psychologists or pastors, just real people with real stories and we hope that our transparency will inspire you to speak up, get help and share your story.
(Michelle) I have been battling with God about how much I want to share with you, how transparent I could handle being, but He said, give it all, so I will.
I visited my family Doctor a couple weeks ago with severe abdominal pain. This wasn’t anything new to me. I have literally been going to the Doctor for abdominal pain for at least 20 years. I had had every test in the book ran on me and never has any Doctor found anything wrong with me, but I continue to feel severe pain and that pain is very real…. At this last appointment, though my Doctor asked me several times how my emotional state was and of course thinking I’m at a Doctors Appointment to discuss my physical heath, I just said my emotional state is fine! I said I’m a Christian and I trust God and so I am good. That’s the right answer, right?
He diagnosed me with IBS and when I asked how that was discovered, he basically said there is no real evidence, but with the symptoms I am having and no other real issues, then that’s what they diagnose it…
Upon working on our Show, “Heart to Heart,” my sister of course was doing some research and came across an article on the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)… It listed IBS as a diagnosis of people who live with depression and anxiety. In fact, when she sent me the list of symptoms for people with depression, I had been diagnosed with 90% of them; lack of sleep, Social Anxiety Disorder, OCD, eating disorders, the list goes on… I started to bawl and just felt my heart leap out of my chest. It was refreshing to know I wasn’t alone and everything I had been going through my whole life was written right there and there was an answer for it!!! But at the same time, I fell to a ball and cried because I saw that I live with depression. I knew it all my life but never accepted it or told anyone.
I know God wants to use my sister and I to reach a people who live with this and are afraid to talk about it, Christians who are afraid to tell anyone. But if 1 in 4 women struggle with depression and we are in Church with more than 4 people, there are a lot of us struggling and keeping quiet. I know I was one of them.
I go to the alter; I have hands laid on me. I pray and fast and fight in the spirit and meditate on scripture… But you feel like if you keep going to the alter or you keep asking for prayer, people are going to think something is wrong with you that you aren’t healed yet, or that you just aren’t in faith and that’s not true.
I think of it like people with a physical illness. We are called to pray and believe for their healing until it manifests, whether in heaven or here. But we keep going to the hospitals and praying over them. When my son was sick, he got worse before he got better, but I prayed over him believing for his healing for years before I saw any sign of it. But why when it’s mental illness like depression or anxiety do we grow weary and walk away from people like that?
Sharing this has been the hardest thing for me. I know people look at me as happy and social and I am! I don’t lay in bed all day and cry or stop life…I have a husband and 3 kids.
I get up every morning, read my Word and spend time with God.
I get my kids bathed, dressed, fed and ready for school. I clean my house, run errands, and hang out with my sister. I serve in my Church and am active in Ministry and if anything, this has brought me closer to God. I see God and hear from Him more now than I ever have. I truly believe I hear and see things different than anyone else.
I want to share my story so if anyone out there is dealing with this, it’s time to bring it out and heal. It’s time to recognize it and get help.
I tend to identify with victims of suicide, not because I am suicidal, but because I understand their minds. I believe I am alive to speak on their behalf because it could have been me. I often hear people talk of suicide victims of being selfish and how could they leave their spouse, kids or family? But in THEIR minds, they truly believe they are putting their loved ones first and making their lives easier by them being gone.
Depression does isolate you from ever feeling like you belong. You can smile and participate, but you always feel like you just don’t quite fit in or are wanted. You always feel like a burden and cant quite grasp the normalcy everyone around you experiences.
For me, I remember as little as 6 feeling depressed. I didn’t know what that was yet, but I knew I saw life differently than other people. As I got older, I started to feel like I was in this bubble that no matter how hard I tried, I saw the world through a lens and as happy as it looked all around me, I couldn’t pop this bubble and truly be a part of it.
As a teenager, I was diagnosed with Anorexia/Bulimia and was down to 80 pounds. Another misconception is that people with depression have experienced some sort of trauma or abuse. I grew up in a healthy Christian home with 2 loving parents and siblings. I was never in need or want for anything and was surrounded by love. I was never abused in any way and yet still developed this. Although I was healed of anorexia, I still meditate on scriptures of who God says I am and have to know that my body is His temple and that I was beautifully and wonderfully made.
A few years after, I noticed I couldn’t go to parties. If friends were having birthday parties or baby showers or any type of social gatherings, I would always make an excuse to get out. I actually still do. I don’t do well in groups, but tend to thrive with the one on one. After my struggles with eating disorders, my parents took me to a therapist and from there I was diagnosed with OCD and Social Anxiety Disorder. I was put on 2 heavy anti-depressants and over time, I just started feeling worse. Doctors said I had to wean myself off with medical supervision, but in my case, I knew God had called me to come off and I can truly say the Lord has taken me off. I do believe that meds are important and if you are prescribed them, take them. Ask God. For me, I knew God had another path for me and I trusted that and have not been on any medications since.
My life and how I see things are quite differently…
Before I even wake up in the morning, I go through a routine where I have to literally tell myself everything is going to be ok. I have to fight fears and insecurities literally from the moment I wake up. I go straight to my quiet room for prayer and time with the Lord…I have had trouble sleeping for decades and can probably count the number of times I have actually slept all night…As I go through my day, if anything changes in my routine, I have a very hard time adjusting. If plans change or people are not true to their word, I literally have to fight breaking down. Things that seem normal and that other people might not think twice about, I dwell on and have to train my mind to be ok…
If there is even a family party or gathering, as soon as I know about it, I literally spend the next few weeks or however long it is stressing about all that could go wrong and how it will be my fault. I get insecure and literally cry days before.
When people talk to me, I don’t hear things the way they are saying them and it often results in disagreements and I have a hard time communicating because others don’t see the way I interpret their words. It’s hard to keep people in your life because once they recognize that you’re weird or too much, they walk away…
So having my sister here has been life changing and allowed me to not only be safe to talk about it but to know someone cares and is walking with me through it.
A lot of the healing comes with having someone close that is unrelenting in walking away or giving up and my sister has literally held my hand through hell and I can’t imagine going through this without her.
Do I feel like I am completely healed? No. But I cling to the hope that God is my healer and has never forsaken me. Daily, I have to cast my cares on Him, hourly… The scripture that has become my very breath is Phil. 4:6-7,
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
(Vanessa) Our next blog will discuss how this has affected me as Michelle’s sister, how it’s been going through this process with her and touching on what we as the loved ones can do for them and for ourselves. This road has been hard for my sister, but it hasn’t been easy for me. There are lessons I learned along the way and am eager to share with you. We are barely scratching the surface on such a powerful topic and as time goes on, we hope to address as many concerns and struggles as we can with anxiety, depression and suicide. I too, am affected in ways I am preparing to share, as well. We hope that God will speak to you through this and please feel free to comment, share or message us if you need help and we can direct you.