I got an email from a bright woman named Cathy. I just loved her story and her perspective on depression so I posted an excerpt from her email below. I hope it will be an encouragement. Jennifer
"I think as Christian women, we are taught that our emotions are a sign of weakness, and that depression in particular is either a sin, gross lack of faith or a demon needing to be cast out, or a serious case of self-pity and self-centeredness. All the messages I got in my (over 40) years of being a Christian have been that depression shows a serious flaw in my character and faith. All this does is add to the condition more guilt and frustration at not being able to pull the self up by its own bootstraps, and makes the spiral faster and deeper.
After I had my third child, I began to experience mood swings and other symptoms that worsened after our fourth was born, and resulted in a hysterectomy at 42. I wasn't recovering well, and the Dr. asked during a visit if I minded if a student involved with a depression study run me through her questionnaire. I thought this was just routine, and would do my bit for science and education, and agreed. The poor little student got more and more anxious as we neared the end and apologized that I didn't qualify. Didn't bother me any, but she said I didn't understand--I was too depressed, and she was seriously worried. (It's amusing now, but I was thoroughly shocked then). The Dr. came in, (not a Christian) and asked me what had been going on--"How far back?" I asked, and outlined nine moves in 10 years, four children born, husband in and out of jobs (hence the moves), having $200/month for food many of those years. She shook her finger in my face and said "the trouble with you Christians is you think depression is a moral flaw..."
It took me another six months to swallow my pride and get over all I had been taught and fill the prescription she gave me. The three years I was on that pulled me out of a hole I didn't even recognize I was in. I was just gritting my teeth and barely getting by and wondering why I just couldn't have enough faith to be happy and joyful. The Dr. explained that prolonged stress, whatever its source, causes chemical imbalances that regulate our moods and can take us where our intellect tells us we shouldn't be and have no reason to be. God can heal instantly, and does; God can use medical science (of which He is the author). Both require faith and obedience and God alone knows what process is most beneficial to His eternal ends. One element that has helped keep things in check since is regular exercise, a natural mood-enhancer, which also requires my dependence on Jesus, and some bald-faced obedience since it's not my first love.
These past five months of intense stress from my job, I felt that familiar whirlpool sucking at my feet. God kept me afloat through a daily, or even hourly cry for wisdom and guidance, and some vitamin D. God proved to me that I can do what I thought impossible, and keep my sanity.
So that's my little story in a nutshell (a little fatter nut than I intended). I will join in prayer for this young lady, and don't know if any of my experience would be helpful to her. I just know that depression is one of those "dirty little secrets" that a lot of Christian women carry silently and unnecessarily, and if admitted to, suffer from a lot of "good intentions" and "advice". A good doctor and counselor is very helpful, and an added un-judging ear from a friend is an added bonus, all of which God provided for me.
I just hope this isn't too long a reply---Cathy"