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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Women and Depression ~ Part 1

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." - Isaiah 61:3

I'd venture to say that the spirit of heaviness mentioned in Isaiah 61:3 would clinically be referred to as depression. Although women and girls are more likely to struggle with depression than men, it seems that it is often a topic that goes unaddressed in many settings - especially in the church (National Institute of Mental Health).

I guess there is a reproach in exposing some level of depression. Still, I know I've had to fight a spirit of heaviness, especially after having a new baby. Many may get the "baby blues" during a postpartum season. However, sometimes one can sink into something much deeper and end up having to battle feelings of hopelessness, weariness, fear, and anxiety over the course of months or years.

While I was pregnant with and after I had Halle, I struggled with a severe case of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (also referred to as Pelvic Girdle Pain) as well as 3 bulging disc in my lower back, and pregnancy-related arthritis in the pubic bone. As you can imagine, my life pretty much turned into a daily battle with a intolerable level of chronic pain. I could hear and feel my pelvic bones clicking I felt severe pain in my legs, back, feet, and hips. It hurt to lie down. It hurt to stand up. It hurt to turn over. It hurt. Period!

I wasn't really able to really go many places or do much of anything. My husband took over most of the  errands, shopping, etc. I was taking 4-5 warm showers a day to try and get relief and cope with pain. I had burning and aching in my joints. As a result, I was sleeping with ice backs on my back, knees, and hips at night trying to get relief. To top it all off, I had 4 children under the age of 6 who had no idea how I felt and needed me constantly! I honestly felt like I was in a living nightmare.

I think its safe to say that I definitely wrestled constantly with a spirit of heaviness during this time. I had many doctor, chiropractic, and physical therapy appointments to attend and it seemed as though I was always given some kind of questionnaire that assessed my symptoms. After I would explain all of the pain I was in, we'd get to the "Do you feel depressed?" question. I would chuckle to myself and think, "Ummmmm, ya think?"

I would try to explain to people what I was going through, but it seemed like no one could really understand. I have found that many people who are part of the invisible pain community often feel misunderstood by doctors and others because they "look" fine, but feel terrible. It is a very sensitive situation. I have grew so much more in empathy for those people are living with chronic invisible pain such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.

It took about a year before I became closer to "normal."  I still have a degree of chronic pain and am still doing regular chiropractic care and physical therapy. However, I am doing much better. I am absolutely in a better place emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But, I learned through that experience what it feels like to seriously be depressed and to have to fight constantly to not be overtaken by it. Here some of what I learned...

When you are struggling with depression:

1.) Remember no matter what is happening or how you feel, God is with you and God loves you. I know you may be a situation that is unreal and you can't see how you will make it through. God said he will never leave you or forsake you. He said he loves you with an everlasting love (Hebrew 13:5-6, Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16).

2.) Prayer will help you make it though. I will keep thee in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me.    When I was at the height of chronic pain, it was hard to pray. For one, I was always distracted and agitated by pain. So whether I was praying or doing anything I could barely concentrate. I felt like I was in a fog. But, still talking to God was very helpful.

I also tried to write how I felt in a journal, which helped me process what was going on. Sometimes your feelings are multi layered and complex. You can't understand yourself as well as God can. But, in prayer he helps you sort through things. He comforts, encourages, strengthens, heals, and counsels you in prayer! (Isaiah 26:3, Isaiah 9:6).

3.) Remember that things change. I know that there are some things that we can't see how can change. We feel trapped. I felt trapped in chronic pain. I didn't know how or when it would end. When you feel trapped in painful circumstances in this life, the natural response is to want the pain to end. This can lead to thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with death. These are among other symptoms of depression (National Institute of Mental Health).

But, the bible says 2 things that helped me with this. First, "With man its impossible, but with God nothing shall be impossible" (Mark 10:27). That means that no matter what your situation may be, you may be powerless to change. But, God is amazing, all-powerful, and able to deliver you! Second, "Weeping may endure for night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

4) Speak what you want. I wrote out alot of scriptures and promises about illness, sickness, prayers, etc and quoted them daily! Then, I would praise God for doing it! This helped me fight during moments of serious despair. The word of God is also powerful and there is power in our words! "Life and death is in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21).

5.) Find a support system. I tried to talk alot about what was going on with me to those closest to me. Although it was difficult to feel "comforted" or "understood." But, I knew that being isolated wasn't healthy. You might have to find a professional. There is no shame in that at all.

I also was encouraged to hear success stories from others who had been through or where going through similar things. I found books and an online community called Rest Ministries by searching the internet. Perhaps you are going through illness, loss of a loved one, betrayal, abuse, rejection, loss of a job, a troubled marriage, etc. The internet provides a wealth of information and there are online support groups for people who need it (Proverbs 11:14).

If you are reading this and struggling with depression, I hope something I shared will help. Please be encouraged. God is with you and for you!


  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. I think that depression and other mental health challenges are silenced in our communities. We need to be real with one another in order to offer love and support and to let women everywhere know that they are not alone. Kudos!

  2. LaSandra,

    This was an awesome post! I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression at the age of 24, and was put on a cocktail of medicines that never really seemed to help. I had a child a year before that who was diagnosed with cancer and her 5 year fight ended in God calling her home to be with him. She was born with her cancer....and died at the age of 5.

    I was saved at the age of 10 but really didn't begin a walk with Jesus until I was 38. I am now 47 and married to a pastor. We serve a small church in our hometown and have been married for 8 years this past April. Since I began a walk with Jesus, I can honestly say I know now why the drugs didn't help me. Putting my trust in Him and letting him handle all my problems was the only help I needed. Praise God I now look forward to see my daughter in heaven!

    I wanted to ask your permission to use this post, and maybe some others I have read through on my blog. I will link them back to your blog so maybe they will find your insights on living a Christian life as helpful as I have. I found your blog the same way...someone's blog I read linked to your post at some point (can't remember who now).

    In His service

  3. Jeannie,

    Thank you so much! Yes, please feel free to use things from my blog on your blog with a link back here. Your testimony is awesome and very encouraging to me as well. God sure changes things, doesn't he?! I pray that God continues to bless you, your family, and the ministry!



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