Welcome dear reader!
Over the next few weeks I have the unspeakable privilege of sharing with you the stories of some very brave women and men who live with depression and anxiety every day and I pray you will be as blessed by their stories in reading them as I have been in writing them.
Our first story comes from a young woman very dear to me. I have only known her a few years but she is one of those people that God very clearly put in my life during a time I desperately needed her.
She is a young wife and mom to the sweetest little boy you’ve ever met. She admits she has always struggled with anxiety issues but she had never talked to a doctor, or anyone else, about these issues until after she was involved in a very serious car accident several years ago. She suffered PTSD after her accident which escalated her existing anxiety and led to major depression. She then started to see a doctor who prescribed anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and sleeping medications, which she took for 4 years as she recovered and put her life back together.
This diagnosis was not easy for her though, because she was raised to think that depression wasn’t real. That you don’t need medication, that you just need to work through these things quietly and quickly and plaster a smile on your face until you’re over it. Fake it until you make it. So, when she was first diagnosed and was prescribed these medications she was scared, scared of what her family would say and what other people would say.
So many people with mental illness suffer these same fears she did but it does not have to be this way. A wise woman told me not very long ago that God made doctors and medicine too, so if you need them do not be ashamed. This was big for me as I struggle with these same thoughts and fears myself.
When her and her husband decided to start their family, they made the tough decision to discontinue all of her medication because the potential risks for their unborn child did not outweigh the benefits anymore. Although she knew she would suffer some withdrawal symptoms the strong connection she felt with her child helped her to stay strong and push through for him and for their family. She believes it was this strong connection with her child while he was still in the womb that helped her through those withdrawal symptoms then, and helps her to continue to cope with her anxiety and depression now, without medicine still, as they work to continue to grow their family. She says, “It’s almost like my family, my little boy, my husband, my life, are now my anti-depressants.” Sitting down to dinner with her family in the evenings, or reading a book or saying their prayers with her son at bedtime are all she needs now to cope.
This is the message she would like to share with all of us; there are many ways to cope and not the same coping techniques are going to work for everyone. If medicine works for you, don’t feel guilty about needing it. If you just need someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to tell someone; therapy can be truly liberating. Don’t rule anything out, you never know what will help you or others. And if you would like to try some other coping techniques or are interested in coming off of your medicine, please be sure to talk to your doctor and if you don’t feel you’re being listened to, do not hesitate to search for another. But mostly she would like you to know that every battle lost is not the end, you haven’t lost the war. All of us have battle scars, that’s what makes us who we are. This is not the end of your book, as depression can make you feel, this is only a chapter. You are stronger than others because of your depression, not weaker. Because you have faced a society where depression and anxiety are still taboo, where it’s not talked about, where you are made to feel worse about yourself then better about yourself. But because you have faced this society and still risen above the self-doubt and the darkness you deal with every day, you are stronger, you are greater, because you’re surviving, and if you continue to press on, you will not only survive but you will thrive.
As we share these stories over the next few weeks, I feel it is crucial we find ways to focus on the light, not the darkness. So, each story will come with specific prayers for not only the subject but for anyone else God puts on your heart as you read.
We pray a hedge of protection around Brandi and her family because we believe her bravery in sharing her story will do great works for your kingdom, which we know full well, can prompt an attack from the enemy. Keep them safe from his lies, keep them focused on the way and the truth and the life. Bless their growing family. Thank you for the light she shines in the lives of everyone she knows and thank you for your faithfulness to all of us.
We pray all of this in the mighty name of Jesus Christ,