I’m often asked what I am passionate about. Without hesitation I answer ‘encouraging people’!
Sincerely speaking life into people in a way that builds them up comes natural to me. I find it instinctive to see as well as to seek something…not just good, but great, in every person I encounter. It’s not a personal choice, I’m just wired to look beyond what’s on the surface, feel beyond what’s implied, and to understand deeply, without limitation or expectation.
I’ve had many hours of self-reflection over the past few years that have caused me to understand myself a lot better; to finally fit the puzzle pieces together to form a picture, and recently, I have begun to share the completed image of what I can now find words to verbalize. Because of the liberty I now stand in, I’m honored to dedicate this inaugural blog to taking the mask off!!
I’m unveiling my very personal and very painful journey with depression. This voyage began so long ago and had become such a regular part of my life, that managing it had also become natural to me. Interestingly enough, while I was dying inside, I was still able to speak and breathe life into others. God’s plan will prevail, won’t it? The problem is, until about a year ago when my Mom died, I didn’t realize I wasn’t managing my depression at all, but instead, for many years, I was masking it. The question is …why?
Before the mask came off, or rather before I was forced to confront the manipulative, controlling, debilitating, draining, effects of depression, I thought depression was the price I paid for being different. I had simply come to accept it, and treated it as my normal. I’d learned to live with it, to manage it…or so I thought.
Some might surmise that I probably never saw a doctor, never was diagnosed as depressed, or refused to take anti-depressant drugs. None of those statements are true. I did all of these things and yet I felt like an outcast, like I had an unacceptable social disease. I felt like it was my fault.
No matter where I went or what I was doing, there was no escaping, no hiding from the sadness, anxiety, gloominess, worry, hurt, isolation, and chest pounding pain. At times it is still indescribable. I found myself on multiple occasions building others up; encouraging them or teaching with such power and clarity, only later recalling how I would arrive home and find myself curled into a ball, in my cave, feeling invisible, and despondent, horribly sad and full of tears. Sometimes I didn’t make it to the car fast enough before the well overflowed. There were so many days I wished there was someone close to me I could share my pain with, but every time I tried to tell someone how I felt or what I needed, I ended up listening to their problems instead.
I went to see a Pastor who told me my problem was that I needed deliverance. I was ashamed to admit my depression initially because I was a minister of the Gospel. I was preaching and teaching the Word of God. How could I be depressed? I felt like I must not really be saved or worse that I had displeased God and was being punished.
Deliverance? Okay, I was willing to try it. I went through a two hour deliverance service. Two weeks later I was ashamed and embarrassed because I still struggled with depression. I questioned whether I was really a Believer? So instead I became a master contortionist. I was a master faker. I could say the words “I’m Fine” in such a way that you believed it, even when I wasn’t.
Depression is not a topic of conversation that gets good press. No one wants to hear about it; no one understands it. I couldn’t tell everybody; I couldn’t tell anybody – anymore, until now. It’s time to be free; it’s time to take the mask off. I did. Will you?
Until next time,