Christianity and depression: It's complicated

I've always been a happy person. I'm the one others seek out for moral support, or a kind, loving word. It gives me j...

Posted: May 21, 2018 2:12 AM
Updated: May 21, 2018 2:13 AM

I've always been a happy person. I'm the one others seek out for moral support, or a kind, loving word. It gives me joy to lift others with my words.

As a Christian, I've always taken pride in spreading that joy and being a strong witness for Jesus -- even when it's not easy or popular.

Once I hit my 40s, I was home schooling my children and -- after years of working in the film and television industries -- I was starting to see success with my own production company. And I received an answer to perhaps my most intimate, heartfelt prayer; after years of trying, I was pregnant again.

I know it's clich-, but for me, life couldn't get any better. I floated on a sense of security and peace, and at that point, my faith felt unshakeable.

And then in one fell swoop, I was blindsided by tragedy that not only tested my faith, but forever changed my life.

'That can't be right'

My family and I piled into the room with the ultrasound tech, both of our boys giddy with excitement to see and hear their sibling's heartbeat for the first time. My husband and I would marvel at the growth of our new little one. You could feel the anticipation in the room as I was poked and prodded, and we watched the screen.

After a while, the tech asked me to empty my bladder and we'd look again. Hmm, I thought. I returned, and she continued her examination.

I noticed "7 weeks" on the screen. That can't be right, I thought. I'm almost 12 weeks.

The intensity of the exam slowed to a crawl. A doctor slipped into the room. The two conferred, and slowly the fuzzy picture came into view. "The baby doesn't have a heartbeat," the doctor said gently, almost apologetically. The realization of those words sunk into my being. "No!" I screamed. "No, no, no!"

Hot tears stung my eyes, betraying my desire to maintain any sense of composure. A trickle of tears quickly became a stream. "Can you check again?" I squeaked, desperate for hope. They checked. Still no heartbeat. They ushered my sons out of the room, and my husband and I to an office for counseling. My mind was in a fog, struggling to comprehend how our lives could change so drastically in seconds. The doctor presented several options. I'm not sure I processed any of them.

Our family limped away that day, broken and bruised. My heart, and my faith, shattered.

My husband had to carry my oldest son in his arms, as my baby sobbed and asked, "Why?" We all wanted the baby so much. It was my third miscarriage, but I felt so sure God told me this one would be to term.

I just knew it was meant to be. And then, it wasn't.

A descent into depression

That was the beginning of my descent into a place of darkness and crippling pain that I've never experienced before.

The baby died but didn't pass naturally, so I carried it as I flew out of town to host my only sister's bridal shower. I was overjoyed for her, yet in utter anguish for me. I felt torn in two. It had been three weeks since I was told my baby was gone, yet she didn't want to leave my body. It exacted an excruciating toll on me.

We returned home on an earlier flight so I could do the inevitable. Opting out of surgery, I said goodbye to my precious one with the help of Cytotec -- a medicine that induces the miscarriage process. Then I started right into the home-school year. I was not physically, mentally or emotionally ready in any sense of the word.

Every day felt like a heavy cloak of darkness, devoid of air. No matter how desperately I tried to rise above the fray, it just didn't happen. I could smile briefly. Waves of depression would wash over me. It became a struggle to get through the day without crying; to do seemingly mundane tasks like make dinner, clean the house, teach the kids -- or even get out of bed.

I didn't want to think. I didn't want to feel. And I certainly didn't want to pray.

A few months passed and I started to feel like maybe I could pull through this after all. I was still bitter and angry with God, but those feelings were dissipating. And then a series of events felt like a sucker punch, leaving me gasping for air. My mother-in-law, suffering from dementia, stayed with us for months, I visited the ER twice for health issues, and then the piece de resistance: My husband lost his job. My faith was skating on thin ice at this point. We lost health insurance, benefits, job security, and to top it off I was diagnosed as peri-menopausal.

Hello, stress. Hello, fear. Hello, depression. Welcome back, old friends.

Prayer isn't always enough

What complicated my situation was, as a devout Christian, I believed that if I prayed hard enough, confessed enough, and read my Bible enough, my depression would go away.

But it didn't. And that just added to my struggle.

I had to realize that Christians can get depressed -- and this is OK. Depression does not mean you have a weak relationship with God or that your faith isn't as strong as it should be. This was a revelation for me.

My healing took therapy, and supplements to help my chemical imbalance. It took patience, understanding and compassion from church leaders. It took releasing God from the bitterness I built up toward him. And finally, when I was ready, it took prayer and spending time in God's word.

People who experience depression aren't less holy or less saved. They're human.

I never expected to become depressed. I thought being a Christian, relying on faith, would garner me immunity from ever having that experience. I felt like church taught me to stay positive, never confessing or acknowledging the negative.

This dose of reality has made me grateful for transparency I've discovered in church leaders who are addressing depression, and mental health issues. If someone is sick physically, we tell them to go to the doctor. But if they're sick emotionally or mentally, it's viewed as not having enough faith. Or even worse, that the person did something bad to bring it upon themselves.

Don't ostracize hurting people. Embrace them. Love them. Help restore them.

I still trust God. I wouldn't still be here today if I hadn't rebuilt my faith. My experience has made me a stronger, better and more understanding person: I am less judgmental, and more compassionate to people who are hurting. I get it. I know. I've been there. I am there.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 814025

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1140561910
Mobile722691323
Madison52017686
Shelby37304341
Baldwin37087540
Tuscaloosa34966599
Montgomery33971725
Lee23149240
Calhoun22159470
Morgan20659372
Etowah19764496
Marshall18254300
Houston17310405
St. Clair15921337
Cullman15325290
Limestone15222198
Elmore15086284
Lauderdale14157294
Talladega13723272
DeKalb12574259
Walker11089366
Blount10102174
Autauga9901146
Jackson9793180
Coffee9182189
Dale8864181
Colbert8791200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6743127
Covington6685179
Chilton6592160
Russell626158
Franklin5935105
Chambers5560142
Marion4958126
Dallas4889199
Clarke473482
Pike4720105
Geneva4564126
Winston4476101
Lawrence4266117
Bibb421786
Barbour355675
Marengo334089
Monroe330462
Randolph327663
Butler324894
Pickens313982
Henry311265
Hale309487
Cherokee300057
Fayette290979
Washington251151
Cleburne247058
Crenshaw243775
Clay240767
Macon230762
Lamar217846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178838
Lowndes174161
Wilcox167738
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125844
Choctaw87027
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