The Glorious Story of Overcoming Depression

Over the weekend Lady Gaga co-hosted a conference at Yale with a goal of letting people to speak out about who they are (and aren’t). She initiated the hashtag #IamNotJust at the #EmotionRevolution conference and the hash was trending all weekend. What this says to me is there are a lot of people that need to speak up and bring those hidden things into the light, AND people need hope that life can improve.

I added to the conversation in a tweet “#IamNotJust a depression overcomer, I have a glorious story to tell. I am deeply loved and it set me free.” It has over 2.1 million impressions on Twitter. Not that I care about the number, but I think what was engaging about the tweet is it says I have been there and come through. Depression is a horrible experience. I’ve hated every minute. But I do have a glorious story to tell of overcoming. Please let me share a little of my story.

In November 2002 I became suicidal. I was on a plane when it happened, I was going out of my skull feeling trapped with no where to go. I thought to myself, “When I get off the plane, I’ll get my rental and drive into a gas truck.” When I got off the plane I called a couple of friends who talked me off the ledge. I don’t know why that wave of anxiety hit me so hard that I literally developed a plan to end my life. I’m glad I didn’t.

One of my friends told me that I needed to find a counselor and talk this through. A month later, I sought one out. And the journey began from there. There were lots of ups and downs, but mostly downs. There were lots of early morning walks in the dark because I was so terrifyingly anxious I couldn’t sleep, and I could call a friend on the east coast to talk me off the ledge again. I felt anxious 24/7. It never left, like a raincloud hovering constantly. “Will I ever feel normal again?” “Will I ever feel hope again?” “Will I ever feel happy again?”

In January 2005, another massive wave of terror anxiety hit and I went suicidal again. Amidst a perfect storm I was sent reeling. I did not have a place of my own, so I was living with a family, who asked me to relocate while they had their house painted, and the new family I was staying with asked me to pack my things too, and my job was moving from California to Florida, and I didn’t want to move to Florida, and a girl I thought I liked gave me the “we’re just friends” talk. Homeless, jobless, hopeless, and sleepless. Because I couldn’t sleep with all the anxiety I was feeling, I was a zombie all day. Living in a fog, while under a cloud, lost in a forest without a GPS. For 2 1/2 years I walked under that cloud.

Then one day I noticed I felt different, and I realized I felt different for about a week. And I was stunned. How did this happen? How was hope now restored?

I can’t possibly give the answers for how it all happened in a few words. But here are a few quick thoughts, and I will supplement them in upcoming posts.

  1. I met with a counselor once a week. I wished I could have been Bob Wylie from “What About Bob?” and seen him every day. But I also needed time to process. We walked through family of origin stuff and eventually I was able to put pieces together enough to make sense of why anxiety rises up in me at times.
  2. When my second wave of anxiety hit, I finally saw a psych who helped me finally get leveled out with meds. I think I might have ended it without the meds. Sometimes the stuff we deal with is bio-chemical related and meds can help. Don’t be afraid to try.
  3. Fortunately, I had a few friends who let me just be me. They let me talk when I needed to, or just let me nap on their couch when I needed that. I’m deeply grateful to those friends.
  4. I clung to eternal and unchanging spiritual truths. Psalm 23 of the Bible says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…” God being with me even when I was in the valley of death was a constant for me. And as much as I wanted to lay down, cry and die, the writer says he walks through the valley. To me, that meant I couldn’t lay down, but needed to keep walking. That valley looked way too long and way too high to climb up out of…too impossible. But the only way out was to keep moving.

When I came out from under that cloud, I realized two things. When I started to care about things other than me and obsessing about what was going on with me, I actually had some things I was moving toward. That gave me hope. And when you are getting near the crest of the mountain it begins to be less steep, not as hard, and you actually get to see what else is around. Coming out of my depression was also like finally getting out of that valley of death. Hope came back. I couldn’t have re-emerged without God’s help walking with me through the valley. I wouldn’t be alive either. I’m glad I kept walking, as hard as each step was. Every step is one stride closer to exiting the valley. Keep walking friends.

If you have hope, share it out on twitter, instagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #IhaveHopeBecause . There is more to this #GloriousStory in posts to come.

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7 thoughts on “The Glorious Story of Overcoming Depression

  1. I too am suffering through depression after going through breast cancer this coming January. What brought it on is the 10 year cancer medicine side effects (which are many very hard ones including painful bone and joint pain most of the time) that I have to take. It is overwhelming to think of 10 yrs of this. Also I suffered Severe Depression 9 yrs ago for 18 mo. I am scared to death that what is dep but not to the degree it was 9 yrs ago, could come back. The thing that help me are several
    things.The very best one of all is reading calming verses in the Bible as you do. I am also taking a Bible Study with my daughter at Church by Priscilla Shirer called THE ARMOR OF GOD ($12.99 on Amazon or at LIFEWAY Christian Bookstores) which is the EXACT thing people with depression would highly benefit them (you too–‘even now). It refers to women but is for men too. My husband and other wives husbands in the study are reading and highlighting it too. It really is helping me. I will quote two of the sentences in the book. “God’s PEACE can keep your emotional footing sure, your mind and body stabilized , and your relationships intact”. Also—“Our God CAN and WILL anchor your soul, tethering it to the SECURITY found in his Gospel, the good news of His beloved Son. HANG ON! Lots of writings like this to calm and reassure us. PEACE IS ON THE WAY. GOD says it and HE IS TRUE TO HIS WORD. Please consider getting this book–‘I promise it will help and keep you the way God wants us all to be. I sldo rely on fsmily snd friends that help me. Slso s osychiatrist helps me by prescribing the right meds. He is s pschychiatrist snd psychopharmicist. 2 birds in one. Well trained with the most current psch drugs snd how to get them just right for esch person
    As people say–It takes a village! Your story is awesome and inspiring to me and I bet thousands of people. and so well written. Going to share it with the Bible Study Group. I am also signing up for your posts. Don’t want to miss any of your writings. Thank you so much for your story. I read it 3 times as encouragement!

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    1. Thanks for the note. They’re have been many times that I could literally taste the creeping anxiety. One thing I try to remember is that I’m a different person now than I was went I went the depression. You are too. You are stronger, more mature, and have a few tricks in your bag in dealing with all the emotion. Keep stepping forward with eyes on the prize.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading your post. It gave me hope and it made me cry. I live in constant fear every day thinking something is going to happen to me. People have told me to talk to a counselor but I’m afraid to. I have spoken to one online but that didn’t help much.

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    1. It is a scary step indeed, but a good counselor’s insights are invaluable. But it really is only useful if you are regularly talking to them and they can give feedback about where you have come from and encouragement about where to head. Please be courageous and face that fear. You can do it.

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