the black hole

If any of you are anything like me, you may or may not watch a lot of television.

And if you do, you have probably seen commercials for anti-depressants. They are fairly frequent, probably because at least 10% of adults in the United States suffer from depression. (That’s just the number reported- I believe that there are probably more than that). However, I think that there is a sort of taboo associated with depression… We don’t want to talk about it. We live in a pleasure-driven culture; if one is seeking ultimate pleasure, how could they be so consumed by pain?

That’s the thing about depression… it is painful. It hurts, and it’s hard, and it’s suffocating. It is not sadness. Anyone can be afflicted by sadness. It’s not a feeling. It’s an overwhelming sense of pain, that grabs you and won’t let go. It is a darkness (we call it “the black hole” in my family) and a despair that doesn’t just go away. It affects the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of an individual’s life. There is a gripping sense of hopelessness, anxiety, fear. Depression has weight… but that weight is also a force, and it fights you and fighting that force is so tiring and hurts so much that it is that much harder to get out of bed in the morning.

For example: yesterday, I woke up in a cold sweat. I was crying. The weighty force I just mentioned had invaded my body, literally pulling me down by my shoulders, pushing me back onto the bed as I tried to get up. It also seemed attached to my gag reflex because every time I tried to sit up, I felt violently ill. I didn’t think I was going to make it to work. I also wasn’t sure if it was worth it to try.

My depression is chronic. It is something I’ve been not dealing with (trying to, anyway!) since I was in high school. And it is hard. Every day is hard. Somedays are a little easier than others. I haven’t had a day as bad as yesterday in a while. But leaning on my own understanding gets me effectively no where. There is no way I can overcome this illness without help. I am seeking help, actively, but so I often forget to consult the One who can ease this. I do believe that my depression is genetic and it is partially beyond my control, but it wasn’t until recently that I started to truly pursue outside help, and seeking interior Help is still so difficult.

It’s like… I’m afraid to get out of the black hole, because what does light feel like? I honestly thought that the low-ness I’ve always felt was just “who I am”. It’s hard to recognize that there is something else, because this is all I can remember. I don’t mean to make myself  a martyr (I promise!). I know that other people experience this suffering. I know that other people experience worse sufferings. And those people do a better job of seeking Christ than I do. It’s so hard for me to pray because it feels like my prayers float up to the ceiling and then bounce right back to me. I don’t know what consolation feels like, so relying on that feeling of hope doesn’t help.

Also, please don’t think I’m a hypocrite… Like the Bishop said, “There isn’t anyone who can honestly tell you they haven’t struggled with doubts.” I am a sinner, and I struggle, but I’m doing the best I can. I know that what I believe is true, even though it can feel distant from my heart. I am seeking the love affair with Jesus, but I am scared. I write a lot about religion because it is something very important to me. I’m not perfect- not even close.

I guess the purpose of this post is two-fold… I want a little bit of my experience to be out there, because I need help. Does anyone know of anything worth reading that can help me? Not like self-help nonsense, but good spiritual reading, especially if it is somewhat practical/involves taking some sort of action. Above all, please keep me in your prayers. You are in mine :)

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10 Responses to the black hole

  1. Betsy Lester says:

    Dearest friend, I just read this today. I have not seen any of your previous blogs. You are in my immediate prayers. As soon as Natalie is finished with finals (I am her helpmate and cheerleader here) I want us to get together. I love you, admire you, and want to talk with you. I will think of books that have been helpful to me. I too, suffer from depression, have done many things to live with/overcome/fight it — including therapy (lots of that!!!), medications, and obviously prayer. May I share your blog with Allan Morton? He is an avid reader of Christian writing and may have some suggestions on books for you. I love you, Catherine.
    God’s blessings,
    Betsy Lester

  2. Chris Hayes says:

    Oh my sweet Catherine, I hold your dear heart in my hands in prayer for you. While I haven’t experienced full on depression myself (probably shorter stints of pretty bad), I have have lived with it all my life in my family. My dad, my brother, my husband. ( I truly believe that the reason God gave me girls and not boys is that I think it is gender related in my family). And I’m talking about decades of it. So I hear your pain and I recognized it when you were here. Your words are true and your description is honest. God bless you for that and being brave enough to share it
    I don’t have any great advice other than to follow your own and get help. And keep getting help until it gets better. And don’t be afraid of antidepressants because they can make a world of difference. They aren’t perfect and they take patience and tweaking and monitoring but they have saved my marriage and helped my hubby to live life. And know that it is not your fault that you suffer this way (nor anyone else’s I doubt). But it is your responsibility to do all you can to manage your disease. As in asking for and getting help, following through on advice, and being honest with yourself and others. Catherine, I am proud if you and impressed that at such a young age you understand a lot about it. But keep learning and writing and growing through it.
    It literally hurts my heart that such a beautiful, giving, sweet, precious one as you suffers from this ugly thief of depression. But don’t let it steal from you the truths you know in your heart of hearts. YOU ARE DEEPLY LOVED. YOU HAVE INFINITE VALUE. YOU HAVE UNIQUE AND SPECIAL GIFTS TO OFFER THE WORLD. YOUR SMILE CAN LIGHT UP A ROOM.
    I love you so much, sweet friend. I am here for you in whatever way I can be. You are forever welcome in my home and on my phone. Hang in there. Call me ANY time.
    Love and hugs,
    Momma Hayes

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  4. ferrindear says:

    I was deeply moved by this post. Mostly because myself and depression had been best friends at one point in my life. While I cannot say I understand what you’re going through, I can say that I know it’s hard. I know getting advice from a sixteen year old girl might not be something you’d jump on immediately, should you chose to stumble upon this, my strongest advice to you would be this:
    You can’t imagine how badly God is yearning for you. He wants you ever so badly so be solely His own so that you may completely feel His undying and unceasing love. Once you give yourself completely to Him, He will take that pain away from you. Trust me, I’ve felt that peace that comes after giving yourself to God, and i must say, it is pretty darn awesome. :)
    Not all suffering will be taken away from you; part of life is having to suffer, but God is willing to protect you, only if you let Him take control. I really hope I’ve in some way helped you.

    Peace and Blessings,
    Your friend, Ferrin

  5. Lisa Rickman says:

    Hi Sweet Catherine,

    I have also suffered from depression, though not as seriously as you have. I have four thoughts for you:
    1. Anti-depressants really are life savers for some. Think of them as filling in a missing chemical in your brain. This is very much like a person who takes insulting when they have diabetes. No one would feel embarrassed about that, so why would anyone struggle with taking something for a missing chemical in their brain that make them depressed? I know many young people will take them for a while, and as soon as they feel better, will immediately go off them. This doesn’t help. If you need them, STAY on them!
    2. Having said that, I have learned recently from my own counselor that depression can also be caused by trauma. I know you have had many difficult losses in your life as a young girl. i would consider those trauma. Often, once the trauma in a person’s life is dealt with, the depression will diminish. Maybe it won’t go away, but, it might be a lot better. I recommend a therapy technique called EMDR. You can find out a a lot about this online.
    3. Another thing I have recently learned is that women suffer from depression at a much greater rate than men. One of the reasons people suggest this is true is because it is not socially acceptable in our culture for women to get angry. Yet, all people feel anger at times. When a person stuffs their anger, it turns into depression. I am reading a book about this now called “Good Women Get Angry: A Woman’s Guide to Handling Anger, Depression, Anxiety and Stress”. It is written by Gary Oliver and H. Norman Wright, and it is a Christian book.
    4. Last one, I promise! There is another blogger who has written about depression. In this blog, she talks about turning to Jesus when she is desperate. Here is the link:
    http://www.carolineabbott.com/~caroline/2013/03/how-to-deal-with-depression-part-two/

    I hope my ideas will be helpful to you sweet one! Miss Lisa

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