Another Friday night turned into Saturday morning, and I was there to see every hour pass by in the wee hours of darkness. 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am; it was finally 6am. I got up, made some coffee, and opened my laptop to google the nearest walk in clinic. I had had enough. 6 weeks with out sleeping through the night. What is wrong with me? And no, they were not nights of worship bliss or words from the Lord coming in the night like Samuel. No, these were 6 weeks of nights in torment. Waking to wolf spiders on the bed from where my apartment in Alabama was poorly insulated and being at the edge of a mountain in the middle of July. Who could sleep after seeing that?
In addition, I was just plain old awake. Worrying, crying, and thinking every shadow was a spider. The days felt about the same as the nights. Worrying, crying, and watching shadows.
I was on edge, and my right eyelid had begun twitching regularly from the lack of sleep and stress. The ministry was growing, volunteers were showing up in troops, and I felt unheard and misunderstood by my direct reports. I had always been someone who would get teary eyed at a good commercial or song, but suddenly everything was causing me to cry. I had two meltdowns at work this week alone. It was embarrassing. I couldn’t control myself.
What in the world is wrong with me?
8am. At 8am I can go to the walk in clinic and get some sleep medicine. Maybe my eye will quit twitching if I get some sleep. Maybe I will quit crying all the time if I get some sleep. Shoot, I won’t even care if a spider is there if I have something that will knock me out.
8am turned into 9am because naturally there was a line at the clinic. I waited patiently in the stale white walled room for the Doctor. The Doctor came in and went through the normal questions about medications, age, and such and then he asked me the dreaded question that I didn’t have a real answer to, “How can I help you today?”
I paused, and then I said in a rather desperate and loud voice, “My work situation is terrible. I am doing way more than I should, and I am not being paid for it. Not only that, my supervisor is not listening to me, and balls keep getting dropped. The balls that keep getting dropped are not really balls but humans because I am in ministry.”
My voice broke.“Because of all this I am stressed, and I cry all the time.” Speaking dramatically louder and fully crying, “ALL. THE. TIME. I have a twitch in my right eye, and I can’t sleep.”
The ugly cry is coming at him now, “I haven’t slept in 6 weeks.” Wiping my snot, “I just need you to either give me some medicine for my eye twitching or my sleep or do they make something for both?” The sobbing is uncontrollable.
The Doctor handed me the Kleenex box, and sat down on his stool. He looked at me with a pitiful look, and said something I would have never expected. “I think you have situational depression.”
I don’t really know how long he paused, but it felt like an eternity. It was as if I was spiraling upside down a staircase. I suddenly felt out of control. All I could think is, “No, I will not be like my aunt. I can’t. I can’t.”
He then went on to explain that depression can set in when there is trauma. Trauma can come from anything. It is simply a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
I walked out of there with a prescription. By the end of the day, I was a glazed over happy person missing her exit to her home on the interstate because I was so “relaxed.”
There was a period of 2 years where I was off and on this medicine. Most of that time period feels like a daze. The second time I got on that medicine I was driven to the doctor because of constant stomach issues and nausea.
I felt ashamed. The one thing I had stood on stages, sat in small groups and preached was not working. I had always hung my hat on that God is a comforter, solution creator, healer, and our everything. I was ashamed that I was leaning on medicine instead of the Lord. However, I felt like the Lord wasn’t working on it, or at least not quick enough for me.
Yes, the medicine did it’s job and got me through my days at work. Yes, the medicine made my eye quit twitching. Yes, the medicine made my crying stop. In fact, I couldn’t really muster up crying at all. Yes, the medicine helped me sleep. Yes, my stomach calmed. The medicine was like icing covering up what was going on below the surface. It addressed the symptoms.
Only a few people knew this was going on- my parents and two close friends who lived out of town. They all reassured me it was ok to get help.
I was doing ministry. I had a smile. I looked happy. I seemed good. Right?
Feeling numb, I decided to ask the question of myself, “when is the last time you felt alive?” All I could think about was a Beth Moore study. The word has truly been an anchor for my soul. Deciding that I would taper off the meds and dig into the good old fashioned word, I decided WE- me and the Lord- were going to kick this thing. I decided to fast television, and only watch sermons.
Proverbs 4:20-22 says, “My daughter, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.”
The word has such wisdom in it, and it truly does give life to the whole body, including the mind and the emotions.
I started looking up every scripture I could think of on healing, our minds, and the strength of God. I would quote them over myself at night and pray them over myself. Here is an example of how I would of prayed out the scripture above:
“Lord, I am your child. I am paying attention to your word and what you say. I am listening carefully Lord. Speak to me. Help me not lose sight of your words. May your words go deep into my heart, mind and emotions and bring life and healing to my body.”
At night after work I felt like I had a second job. I would get into those scriptures, watch Beth Moore sermons, and turn on my little speaker and worship.
One night, I felt the depression break off of me. I laid on the floor on my face, crying out to the Lord, and I laid every worry at His feet.
After I got done, I sat up, began wiping my eyes and nose, and burst into laughter. I felt like the elephant on my shoulders was finally off! I got up and put on some happy worship music, and I started jumping around dancing in my apartment singing with all my might! It was as if the chains of depression were being shaken off just from the dancing.
I saw Isaiah 61:3 come to life for me:
“To all who mourn in Israel,
He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for His own glory.”
Girls, how we fight our battles is with garments of praise. Put on praise. Spotify, Pandora, youtube all have free ways to listen to worship music. Get in the word. Listen to podcasts, youtube sermons, and you personally go get in the word. There are tons of resources, but there is nothing like the Bible. It is your weapon. He exchanges the heaviness for joy. Despair for praise. Weakness for strength. There is no amount of medicine that can bring that amount of healing.