When you live 40 to 50 years in a state of fluctuating degrees of what I called ‘the darkness’ or depression, it becomes part of your identity and you become used to it always being there. I had times during those many years that I functioned and did what had to be done. Along with my husband we raised our family and gave them I believe good direction in their lives.
I worked either part-time or full-time during many of those years until I ‘retired’ on long-term disability when it was discovered that I had Multiple Sclerosis. Even working I managed to obtain positions of Supervisory and then Management status, and I performed my job to the best of my ability. There were times during my working years when I would have to have breaks from working because of the stress of my mental disability. Stressors are evident in any job, but when you add in an illness such as I had, a job of any kind produced anxiety and is debilitating. During the last 13 years I worked within a Christian environment for a cause that I worked my heart and soul for often working long hours and overtime. That and the M.S. was my undoing, and what eventually led to at first going on short-term disability for depression, and then while being off, finding out that I had the physical ailment as well and going on what was to be permanent long-term disability/retirement.
It was during this time that there were also several other issues that aggravated both of the other conditions, which I won’t delve into. Suffice it to say that my breaking point came. To deal with one issue is something but all of the situations at one time was more than I could handle. Working to strengthen myself physically and emotionally was one big job. And then my husband retired and we decided to move out of the city and into a small town. Even then of course my ‘darkness’ went with me…. I had not yet rid myself of it. When we moved I had high hopes that maybe this change would be what would do it for me, however it was not to be so….not right away anyway.
I ran into someone recently who was a neighbor of the first house we moved to in the smaller town. I introduced myself to her and she didn’t recognize or really even know me, but when I said I was W.’s wife and we had lived on the same street as they did for a few years, she then knew me but only as W.’s wife. She said, oh I remember seeing you ride your scooter up and down the street. That made me very sad. It was true that during that time I avoided people for the most part, especially those I didn’t know well, and which I might have to make casual conversation about things I had no interest in, because I basically had few interests at all. But that’s what the depression does. It robs you of anything outside of the misery that you are experiencing and which I still carried around as part of me.
Fortunately soon thereafter I met a doctor who was a Christian and she was just beginning to do Cognitive Therapy. She cared about not only my physical ailments such as the M.S. and other issues and my emotional issues….but because she was Christian also my spiritual issues. God had led me to the person that would be responsible along of course with my constant belief in God and my faith….. that He was beside me even if things were taking time to resolve.
It took several years and episodes still of medication and hospital visits and the veil of darkness still around.
This past year however took me to a turning point and I started to feel extremely different. It was not just me that noticed it, but those in my family and others around. And so at the beginning of this year, even though I expected as most do with clinical depression to remain on medications for life, determined with my doctor’s approval to wean off of them. To my utter amazement and delight, I remained stable and feeling totally aware of how I felt daily.
So, while I wouldn’t have minded staying on my medications for the remainder of my life, it is I believe God’s plan for me that I now rely totally on Him and that He is responsible for my joy that I feel.