Real Talk: Faith-Filled and Still Depressed

 Faith-Filled and Still Depressed

What is wrong with me? Faith-filled and still depressed?!
I’ve confessed, prayed, and fasted. I am speaking life over myself
and others. I’m seeing their lives transformed; yet, I am appear to
be sinking further and further into depression and isolation.

I have no energy. I’m irritable and emotional. Is it hormonal? Well, I
am way over 40 now. Exercise isn’t energizing me nor helping my
mood.  I no longer enjoy doing any of the things I used to do.
Getting up and moving requires so much energy.

What is the problem? God, are you even hearing me anymore?

I’ve surrounded myself with positive affirmations galore and nothing.

I changed. I’m no longer planning events. I’ve stop sending cards.
I’m no longer reminding my crew of each other’s birthdays. I’m no longer
sending encouraging texts. I’m no longer hosting my book club or the small
‘table talk’ group I started.

Yet, no one seems to have noticed. No one is checking on me.
One year.
Two years.
Three Years.
No one.    

(but still moving forward)

I waved red flags the only way I could muster at the moment. I even texted
an article to my crew about a woman warning others to pay attention to their
friends. The author of the article had been surprised to hear about her friend’s
suicide and realized she’d missed the signs.

And still nothing. Well, I did get one response: “that’s good; thanks for sharing”.

Helloooo, my spirit-filled friends, your girl is dropping nuggets the only way she knows how right now.

Okay, God where is the “you reap what you sow?” I may not typically own the
gifts and abilities you’ve given me but I know I’ve sown presence and presents
into the lives of others. And I’ve sown encouragement. I’ve been told numerous times
the difference I’ve made in a life by just showing up, especially when no one
else would.

So, what gives? Where are the people who should be present for me now?   depressed-isolation-alone

Why do I feel so utterly alone? I mean lonely — coming from a person who leans towards introversion – who recharges from solitude – that’s saying a lot?

This is different. Sure, I’ve typically leaned towards a more melancholy disposition since my youth. But this – this is different. I can barely function on any type of level. I manage to get the kids off to school, maybe get to the grocery store and maybe get a meal prepared – but that’s happening less and less.

I no longer find joy in planning and preparing meals. In designing jewelry.
In DIY or creating gift bags/treats. In going to arts and cultural events. I’m
no longer reading nor journaling. I’ve lost interest in volunteering and serving.
The thought of any of it is simply exhausting.

Depression-faking it-isolation-mental health
(this is what my depression looked like)

Sure, I am still showing up for events I’ve invested money on like conferences out of town or events where I’ve committed to being present. Yet those require so much mental preparation and I struggle to truly enjoy the moment.

Okay, maybe this new unexpected job opportunity will be just what I need to propel me out of this “funk”. I’ll have to get up and out by the same time every weekday.

The job is great but I still feel the same. Where is my energy? My zest for a new challenge? I’m still just drained and then there’s the extra effort to smile. To engage in conversations. To think and perform well. What’s the point of out all? Is it time to go home yet?

WHAT. IS. WRONG. WITH. ME? I can’t seem to breakthrough. Nothing is
working. When will I return to myself? When will I stop crying on the way
somewhere, in the shower, while watching a show or while doing anything?

My blood work is fine. No thyroid issues. No diabetes. No low anything.
So what is the problem?!!!

Those were just some of my thoughts for several years. Truth be told, I am only a few months removed from that place of despair.

It wasn’t until the early part of 2016 I recognized I had been battling some level of depression

While I could recognize depression in a few others, I missed it in myself.  Or had I just been in denial?  You know faith-filled believers can’t have depression; plus, I am black too.  We don’t battle this type of stuff and we certainly don’t talk about it. 

Well, if we do, we’re met with “just press through it”, “get over it” or “snap out of it”.  Girl, you gon’ be alright.

But I wasn’t really alright for three years! I needed help.  I needed someone I could be real with without judgment.  And I didn’t need another scripture quoted to me.   

I needed a friend with a listening and empathetic ear.  Heck, I just needed a friend.

And I probably needed a therapist too. 

Eventually, I reached out to a counseling associate.  The associate did not really help but our interaction was an eye-opener; it was a great learning experience. 

I’m still working my way back to the real me and beyond – a better me.

The despair has been lifted.  The journey has not been easy and it’s still ongoing. 

While I learned a lot in that season, I will not elaborate at this time.

As a trained counselor, coach, and a believer, this post is more about me setting myself free from the perceived shame of battling depression.

For now, I will share two observations:

1. There is no shame in admitting you have or had depression.

We are not ‘one size fits all’ on this journey of life. We are all different. We process things differently. Our brains are wired differently. What works for you may not work for someone else. We have to learn to extend grace to ourselves and to others.

2. Friends pay attention to any long-term changes in your friends.

Don’t assume a friend’s absence is because they’re probably busy with life. Especially if you notice they’ve been absent too long or are out of character, check on them! I know we can get caught up in our own lives but it only takes a few seconds to send a text or make a phone call. You have no idea what a difference that may make in a life. I realize sometimes a person doesn’t even recognize they need additional help; sometimes they’re not able to ask for help or they’re too ashamed to admit they need it.

Throughout this season of depression, I was never without a ray of hope.  Some days I just couldn’t see it radiating through my darkness.

Life matters. Don’t give up on it or on yourself!

You are not alone.

Faith. Hope. Thrive.

For more on depression, see the links below:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-and-african-americans

https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/life-and-relationships/emotions/to-the-depressed-christian.html

http://www.attn.com/stories/13574/expert-explains-low-functioning-and-high-functioning-depression

https://themighty.com/2016/10/what-it-feels-like-to-have-functioning-or-low-grade-depression/ 

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