We are continuing our series on Anxiety and Depression. One in four women struggle with depression and anxiety and fewer ever reach out for help. We discussed our personal story with this epidemic and how it has affected us both on our last blog. Depression doesn’t just affect the person struggling with it. It affects the loved ones just as much, as they experience their own set of feelings and emotions throughout the process.
40-70% of Caregivers of someone with depression show signs of depression themselves and approximately a quarter to half of these caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression and even begin to show signs of anxiety, too!
Anxiety and Depression don’t have to be your ending just because they were your beginning! While some mental illness, (and yes depression and anxiety are considered the most common mental illnesses in the US), is caused by a chemical imbalance, others can be a result of trauma, genetics, life events, all sorts of reasons…
Michelle– I struggle with depression and anxiety and was pretty transparent on the last blog with how it affects me and what it means for those who love me, namely my sister.
Suicide rates have tripled in the last 2 decades among adults and doubled among children.
This is a red flag for my sister and I and something we couldn’t continue to pass over in our own lives. As Christians, we know there is a better way for us because God’s Word says in John 10:10, that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. My sister and I have a different story – there isn’t just one of us dealing with this. There is one who struggles with depression and one who sticks close by in the trenches, too.
Vanessa– I want to share how depression affects not only the one who suffers, but also those that are their support system. When you have someone close to you that suffers and you have to see and watch them struggle, it is almost unbearable. For me, it has been one of the toughest things to see my best friend, my sister struggle. It takes a tremendous toll on your energy. It wears you down emotionally, mentally and even physically. There will be moments of frustration, anger, guilt and breakdown. For me, I had many moments of frustration because I just didn’t understand. I didn’t understand how my sister’s mind, how she saw and interpreted things were different than mine. I had moments of anger because it seemed like it was always going to be this way, the same thing over and over again. I had moments of guilt because I felt it was my fault, that I always said the wrong thing or did something wrong that would set her off.
I had moments of feeling completely helpless and no matter what I did or said helped. I felt like I was walking on eggshells not knowing when something was going to affect her. There were times when I would just cry and think this is too hard and I don’t know if I can do it anymore. This is where if you don’t have God, you won’t be able to! This makes me think how many relationships whether marriage, even parent and child are strained or broken because it becomes too much. God has to be your source! Without God, I don’t know how anyone can make it through. That’s probably another reason why some just end up in mental institutions because they can’t be dealt with anymore, or end up homeless.
Through this journey I have learned so much. My sister and I always say it’s in the hardest moments in life that we learn and grow the most. Through the hardest moments, find the beauty and God because He is always there. What the enemy meant to take us both down or to walk away, our God turned it around for our good and His glory. It is only by the grace of God that we are here and able to share. God never left us, but was there through the hell all along!
God began to show me that I can’t be what only He can be and I can’t do what only He can do. He showed me that the more I tried and put pressure on myself to make sure my sister was ok, I wasn’t allowing God to work. I had to allow Him to be God! I didn’t need to try harder or do more to see my sister healed and whole. I have always struggled with being a fixer, a people pleaser, and avoid conflict at all cost. I did whatever necessary to make sure she was happy, to not hurt or offend her and not cause conflict. But God begin to deal with me through this journey and show me a new way. It was a way I was not use to and I had to begin to do things differently. It has been extremely hard, BUT GOD! I saw that if I kept doing things the way I was, it was not helping my sister or myself. It may have been comfortable, but it caused more damage than good. The more my sister and I began making changes, the more God was showing us tremendous growth. We have had to face our biggest fears and have now more than ever overcome them!
Through all of this, my sister knew my struggles. I shared with her what God was showing me and she was always encouraging me, pushing me and speaking life over me. She always reminded me that I had a voice and to use it even if it hurt her. She saw that by me always worrying about pleasing others; I lost myself and allowed others to control me. Even though she had her own struggles and giants she was facing, she has always been here for me. In my moments of frustration with her, she never walked away. She could have easily said “you’ll never get it,” and let me just deal on my own.
She wasn’t aware, but through her healing journey, she was walking me through mine, as well.
The beautiful picture God was painting, were two women who chose to be covenant sisters; committed no matter our differences, failures or brokenness. We would be the hands and feet of Jesus to each other. We would love bigger, encourage one another, see the other the way God does and speak life over one another. We would witness each other step into all God has called us to be!
To those who are being a support system to someone who suffers with depression, anxiety or any kind of mental illness, here are a few things I learned along the way!
- Don’t feel like you have to save them. Don’t take the burden of taking everything upon yourself. You will wear yourself out and find yourself in your own pit of despair.
- Take care of your own emotional well-being. There may be moments where you need to have some time for yourself to just refresh.
- See them through the eyes of Jesus. Separate the condition and see that is not them. It does not define them. I have always reminded my sister that the depression and anxiety isn’t who she is; it’s a thing that is on her, but not her.
- They are not a project to be fixed! They are not a problem to be solved. You are not God!
- Extend grace, love them. Encourage them, and most importantly speak life and the word of God over them. Do not give up on them! God doesn’t give up us!
I hope this helps and for more information on anxiety and depression, please visit www.adaa.org
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