Jackie and I met at work several years ago. She shared her faith so boldly that I was intrigued. We talked about everything and enjoyed each others company that we sort of got scolded for not working enough. We resorted to sending e-mails. She secretly brought me worship CD’s when she was on her way to the bathroom. It was no good to either of us that my office was right beside the bathroom. The temptation to talk was always present. I eventually followed her to the church that we both go to now.
Jackie called me a few months back. She had a baby girl and was now having a really nasty period of Post Partum Depression. This was something much bigger than the “baby blues.” This was full on depression and she didn’t really know what to do. But she remembered that I had shared my suffering with depression with her. I drove straight to her house.
The fact that I have struggled with depression since college was always a closely guarded secret. I never knew how people would take it and many don’t understand. There are so many causes: chemical, situational, and even a spiritual aspect. That doesn’t even cover the different types of medication, treatment, therapy and prayer. Navigating the mental health system is difficult at best. I was privy to not only personal experience, but also professional as I had been a behavioral health nurse for thirteen years.
This one thing I clung to when I was in the deepest pits was a scripture in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 which talks about how God comforts us in our trials so that we will know how to comfort others. I prayed always that God would present an opportunity in this specific area that someday I could help someone. Fifteen years later, Jackie called. (This would be called God’s perfect timing.)
Jackie and I meet. We talk and encourage one another A LOT. It’s not just about the depression, it’s about other things. But when you know, really know, how to climb out of the same pit that the other person is in…there is power, strength and encouragement. The first thing I told her was this, “This is going to end. You will feel happy again. There is hope, and let me tell you a few tricks I learned along the way…” I’m not sure which one of us benefited the most from that first meeting to talk about this. It could go either way.
Sharing with someone who really knows what you’re going through is something I would recommend to anyone, no matter what the situation is. Why not find someone who has been victorious and ask them how it happened?
I don’t keep it a secret anymore that I have struggled with mental illness. I’m crazy and I don’t care. I feel the Lord has led me to victory. I do care to help people so they never have to live for fifteen years keeping a secret in front of others. We need to be open about our struggles, toss out the pride and stigma. Getting things into the light and taking a fighting stance is where we start. When you can’t raise your own hands, let your friend raise it for you. When you don’t know what to pray, get that expert to pray for you. Your church, your friends, are there for you no matter how things are. If not, maybe you’re in the wrong church.
Tonight I’m taking Taco Bell over to Jackie’s. We call it Taco Bell night. Last week she joked that I should write a blog just about what we talk about. I laughed and said it would have to be called, “Conversations with Jackie”.
One burning question may be on your minds. My family was always there, even when it was hard for not only me but also to them.