I suffer from depression and anxiety. And ADD. I was blessed with the trifecta of toilet bowl thinking. It’s only been recently that I have put two and two together and allowed the cumulative history of my life to tell its story. But now, at 51, I have more life behind me than in front of me, and I can see that I have wrestled with these debilitating brain shackles all my life.
I remember that when I was in elementary school, I would be physically sick every morning due to the anxiety of going to school. My mother called the doctor who gave her some advice about giving me juice or something, but I vividly recall the nausea that would hit the moment I woke up and realized I had to go to school. Anxiety affected how I made friends and how I handled day to day challenges. For the most part, I was fairly popular, but inside I was wracked with self-doubt and fear.
I also remember periods of time where I felt really blue. I thought everyone felt that way. I didn’t know what depression was.
And I also struggled with ADD, which back in the 70’s and 80’s wasn’t even a recognized handicap. All I knew is that I even though I managed to get decent grades, I studied 5 times harder for 80% of the good grades that my two best friends got with half their brains tied behind their backs.
In high-school, my depression & anxiety combo really bound me up and between those two emotional challenges and the inability to stay focused, my grades tanked. My brain was so full of depression and self-loathing that I fell into really negative behaviors trying to escape my sadness and of course, as we all know, all that did was exacerbate the anxiety. I was scared to live because every day I took a breath, I managed to make worse than the one before. I had many bouts of suicidal thinking – although I never attempted to take my life. That’s the condition I was in when I met Jesus.
I was 18 years old when I became a Christian and I thought that all of my anxiety and depression would magically go away now that I was going to live a clean life. The logic was: No more sin = No more fear. No more screw-ups = No more sadness. But it didn’t quite out work that way.
Over the years since my decision to follow Jesus, I have studied the Word like it’s my job. I love the Bible and nothing gets me more excited than getting to know Jesus and studying the Word. And I love to worship the Lord. In that place of awe and reverence, things come into alignment. And I have been faithful in church since I was 18. I’m not a flighty person. I’m loyal and dedicated and I love the Lord. But even with all of that going for me, it still hasn’t been enough to stop the tsunami of sadness that comes over me at times. Or the anxiety that gives me chest pressure and heart palpitations at times.
In all fairness, my adult life has been marked by a lot of losses and some really intense crises that would make anyone sad and anxious. So I never thought that depression and anxiety were something I suffered from.
But recently, I have encountered the perfect storm. As I said, I am 51 so I am entering that marvelous time of life when the youth factories start shutting down. Not only can that wreak havoc with your hormones and your emotions, but being at this mid-life age causes a lot of retrospective thinking. “Why hasn’t A, B, or C worked out yet? I thought I would be further along than this by this age. When are my opportunities going to materialize? Did I miss God? Am I out of his will?”
And then come the crazy thoughts: “Am I even saved?”
If you don’t suffer from any form of depression, you cannot fathom how crazy toilet bowl thinking can hijack you and sideline you. But take it from me, when you’re sliding down the slippery slope of negativity without crampons, it is way too easy to lose your grip on reality and on what the Word says.
Depression and anxiety are slave drivers. But one thing I know: Because Jesus is my chain breaker, I am free. I am no longer a captive. When Jesus burst up out of the grave and blew the door off his tomb, he displayed the finished work that brought us up out of captivity with Him. He put the keys of the Kingdom in our hands. Those keys carry the same authority that Jesus exerted when he walked the earth and brought freedom to every person bound by any sickness or torment. And today, I plan on taking the set of keys he gave to me and placing them in the lock of your prison door. Because of what he is doing in me, I refuse to let you sit in depression alone. You are not alone. You are not forsaken. You are not shameful. He has not given up on you. You are precious to Him. Jesus is attracted to brokenness and He has come to set every captive free. Because he is your chain-breaker, you are free. You are no longer a captive.