It’s a subject no one really wants to talk about. We whisper about it. We know it exists, but no one wants to acknowledge it. It’s hard, but we struggle with it behind closed doors. Here’s the truth: we’ve all lost something, and with loss, comes grief. Some of you, like me, have lost a husband. Some have lost a child. You may have lost a job or a friend. We’ve all lost or had to modify dreams. When we lose, we hurt.
I’m not much of a numbers person, but I think they’re important to emphasize a fact here. 15 million people in America struggle with depression, and most of them are women. However, only about a third of those people will actually get help with their depression. One in every four women will suffer from major depression at some point in their life. We don’t want to talk about it, but depression is real; many women struggle with it at some point in their life.
Depression isn’t just sadness. It’s lack of energy, trouble sleeping, and loss of interest in the things we previously found joy in doing. It may include frequent crying, but it can also include irritability. We may overindulge in food or we may lose our appetite. It may be hard to concentrate. Depression doesn’t necessarily look the same in every person.
Anxiety is often linked to depression because worrying about things can naturally lead to depression. Many people struggle with both. In fact, more than 18% of people struggle with anxiety. Again, women are twice as likely to struggle with it as men, but yet, only a third of people seek help with anxiety. We’ve been taught and trained that women can do it all, and the truth is that we can’t, at least not long-term. Eventually, we break down. If you’ve lost a spouse, like me, you may have tried to do everything you used to do AND everything your husband used to do. Then, I wonder why I am so exhausted all the time.
I struggled with both depression and anxiety in the early days after losing Trevor, but even now, I still struggle with depression. I wish we would all be more open about the fact that it’s OK to not be OK. In fact, I quit taking an antidepressant at one point and a few months later, I decided I needed to go back on it. Life is hard, and it’s OK to get help if it helps you to be a better woman and a better mom. Counseling can be helpful. Exercise can be helpful. A regular bedtime and waking up time can be helpful. Getting your thoughts down on paper (or a computer) can help. The point is, it’s OK to be intentional about doing things that help you to cope with the up’s and down’s of life.
Let me encourage you if you’ve ever struggled with or are struggling now with anxiety or depression. There’s not “something wrong” with you. We don’t have to hide what we’re going through, and we can certainly be open in prayer with God about how we feel. He knows anyway, and he wants us to come to him with our pain. In fact, he tells us to do just that. He wants to carry our burdens because he cares for us. When we go through the valley, he doesn’t promise a quick fix, but he does promise us his presence. Always. And he never, ever breaks his promises. In fact, David struggled with depression. We can tell from the words of his psalms. He says in Psalm 42:6, “My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you.” In the very next psalm, he asks why he goes around mourning. It’s not wrong to feel depressed, but during these times, we must cling to the promises of God and stand on the truth of His word, even when we don’t feel it. If you struggle with depression or anxiety, don’t trust or depend on your feelings; trust and depend on the word of God. If we speak truth to our heart through daily reading of the Word, through prayer, and through other believers, that truth will eventually seep back into the fibers of our soul. Until then, know that our Lord is holding you, and he will never, ever leave you alone.