How Depression stole my Faith

This is my testimony about how my faith was affected by the illness depression. Another blogger (who also focuses on hope!) asked me if I had any posts about how my depression changed after I met Jesus and so here it is!

The first thing I have to say is that becoming a Christian did not heal my depression, I was a Christian before it happened. In fact, my illness causes me to completely lose my faith.

I suffered from reactional depression caused by watching my dad and sister battle with suicide, my stress levels rocketed and my brain chemicals got out of balance. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I stopped feeling any emotion apart from despair and simple things became impossible to me. Getting out of bed felt like the hardest thing I’d ever done.

Why did I lose my faith? Because I had conditions attached to being a Christian. Life had to make sense, life couldn’t be difficult and Jesus had to answer my prayers the way I wanted Him to.

I walked away because my faith was shallow and I started to play games with God. I put myself in situations I knew would hurt me, surrounded myself with a relationship that I knew was abusive and thought “if I stay here God will have to break in and rescue me”. He didn’t and all that happened was I got hurt really badly.

20130523-093416.jpg

When Jesus didn’t rescue me I decided He didn’t exist. I turned my back on him and things got worse, oh so much worse. I toyed with suicide and lived a secret but very reckless life.

I lost my faith and religious set of rules to this illness. I got secular help in counselling and medication. I never once mentioned to my counsellor that I used to have a faith.

I was empty; even when the drugs worked and I could function again I was so, very empty.

I am so glad my story doesn’t end there! Jesus found me, not religion or faith or a massive conversion experience but a relationship with Him saved me.

I became so down trodden I was ready to either end my life or try one last thing. I had a feeling deep down that if I read the bible all the way through maybe things would change. So I started, manically, hectically and angryly to read and underline any verse that spoke of suffering and God turning His back on people. I didn’t like the promises and praises but I read the verses none them less.

Slowly, but by bit, chain by chain, lie by lie, my mind got clearer. I had started reading in a place where I wanted to throw my life away; I chose to give it all to Jesus rather than just kill myself. The more I read about Jesus the more I could see He understood the things I was struggling with.

He suffered more than I did and I couldn’t argue with that. He didn’t need to suffer but He chose to so He could trade places with me; so that He could pay the price for my mistakes. It felt like He hadn’t turned His back on me, but that He knew I would go through these things so thousands of years before they actually happened He suffered and died so He could help when I needed Him.

medium_2921523138

I wanted nothing to do with clichés and religion and the prosperity gospel but I wanted Jesus. I read books and books by missionaries who really knew Jesus and knew that to really know Jesus you had to understand suffering.

Everyday since then it has been a two-step forward one step back type of journey of knowing Jesus. The man who died and came back to life. The man who knows me in and out. The man who rescued me.

photo credit: Ali Catterall via photopin cc

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/garry61/2921523138/”>Garrywww.visionandimagination.com</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

Advertisements

Staying Happy when Life’s not Right

When I was a teenager my Dad had a breakdown and suddenly my reasonably normal life turned into a terrifying place full of suicide attempts and hospital visits. I have always been a worrier and I decided that the best way to protect myself would be to imagine the worst case scenarios and expect that to happen – that way I couldn’t be taken by surprise. It seemed to make sense – and most of the time I was right. If I saw a police car driving in the direction of my house I would assume it was because my Dad went missing – and usually it was because he had. If I woke up in the night I assumed that my Dad had slammed the door and left, or that he was trying to drink himself to sleep – I was nearly always right about this one (I sleep deeeeeply).

medium_3854925173

Did my method protect myself? I thought that it would as so often I was right about my fears, but the actual result was that I became depressed myself. I suffered from reactional depression, which is a depression brought on by the situation I lived in. I was in a constant state of panic and my body over produced adrenaline, this meant that all my systems went out of whack – most importantly my limbic system or my brain. It’s complicated but the chemicals which help you to think, and help the nerve endings in your brain to work, leak out of your brain when there are high levels of adrenaline in your body, meaning you become depressed and simple tasks become a struggle. At university I studied Biomedical Science and when I learnt more about reactional depression I saw the massive danger in expecting the worst and keeping adrenaline levels high.

So this brings me to the next series of posts I am hoping to write. I am, again, in a situation where the health of someone I love keeps getting worse and the temptation to “protect myself” by expecting the worst is kicking in….. So in an effort to see the hope I have (in Jesus!) and not to get negative I am going to post stories from my life about how good things, sometimes even amazing things, have come from the worst times. I would absolutely love to share some other stories too so if you have any inspirational, hope filled experiences I can include please, please leave a comment below 🙂

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/stage88/3854925173/”>Sam Ilić</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>