Psalm 102:5-7 “Because of my loud groaning, I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I like awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.”
When I was still a teenager and assisted regularly to church; I discovered Psalm 102. I made that Psalm completely and totally mine. It described what I had felt all my years while I was growing up. Psalm 102 comforted me in some way but I still felt that I had no way out of that sunken feeling in my heart.
If you look for the definition of depression in any dictionary it will say that it is a condition of feeling sad or despondent. Other definitions will say that it’s a condition marked by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, and feelings of dejection and hopelessness.
I remember that when I was a kid; I always felt frustrated about everything. I wasn’t a happy child even if there were moments when I played with my siblings (mostly fighting, should I say). I was raised in a time where there was no internet, no cable TV just a few local channels, no video games, no cell phones…those technological advances came much later on. So interacting with others was the way I had to live and play. Other people always frustrated me; now I know that I was the problem, not them.
My feelings were not normal. I was a total drama queen. Everything about my life was a tragedy. I could never be with the people that I wanted to be. I could never have the things that I wanted to have. Everything was unreachable, sad, frustrating and hopeless. I didn’t like my school, the other classmates, my curly hair, my family….there was nothing that I liked about my life at all.
The only things that I can remember liking about my life was candy, toys, books, cartoons and music. But I had no idea that I was such a melancholic child. Neither did my mom. So, when I was growing up being a teenager, I developed lots of complexes. My method of dealing with it was naming myself “Loca” (which means ‘crazy’) and staying inside my room listening to the radio and imagining that I was some bird that could fly away to different countries and have lots of adventures. I let my imagination go and made up stories in my mind. Unfortunately, I didn’t write them down. If I would, maybe I could’ve been more famous than J.K. Rowling….(just kidding!).
But I did read lots of books, I really loved to read while I was growing up. During my teen years, while going to church….I remember sharing a lot with my cousins from my father’s side. My cousin Nitza and I made competitions of who would read the Bible first. So, I can say that I read the Bible completely from Genesis to Apocalypses. And as I said before, there was NO INTERNET, NO CELL PHONES, NO VIDEO GAMES!!!
In the 80’s, depression was not dealt with the seriousness that it should’ve been dealt with. When I had those sadness episodes, people tended to be kind of cruel. They were always scolding me that I had to “shake it off and move on”. That attitude from other people towards me made me sunk even deeper in my despair. I used to sing at church; but sometimes my depressions were so severe that I felt that I could hardly do anything. I didn’t want to see people, I just wanted to stay inside my room looking at the walls and never go out again.
There were good and bad days. In the good days, I would study, talk with people, go to church, sing, share with my family, watch TV, go out to the movies and be a normal teenager as I could be. But when the bad days came, it was like a wave that hit me and my life would be crashing down. The worst part was that all the people surrounding me didn’t know how to deal with it. They accused me of being a trouble maker, a downer, of being frustrated, negative….I felt that I let a lot of people down and that I had no way to stop being a burden to others. Sometimes I wished that I would’ve never been born at all.
I did notice that when I prayed something amazing happened. It was like Psalm 30:11-12 “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. Oh Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”
But then, there were times when I didn’t want to pray or I was just too sad to do it. Then the depression caught me again. My chest would start to hurt and I couldn’t get out of my despair until I made a last effort and bend my knees again.
When I got older, my mom and my older sister gave me a book that talked about depression. I can’t recall the title though. The book was good and I read it completely. I learned a lot about myself, I learned about how to deal with it but I still didn’t know that I had a condition that required medication.
There was a chemical imbalance in my brain that needed to be dealt with. But antidepressants were still not the “rage” in those years. There was just one pill that made me sleep and it was discontinued because I think people used it to kill themselves. Depression was still just a psychological thing and I had to deal with it by being aware of it and changing my way of thinking.
When I was in my 30’s and I had a terrible job experience, then I finally visited a psychiatrist who diagnosed my depression and I started to use medication for it. I used Paxil and other antidepressants. But the main problem that I had in those very dark years was that I needed to work somewhere else. But those bad experiences, even though they didn’t kill me; they made me very much stronger.
How do I deal with depression these days? I’m in my late 40’s and I haven’t used antidepressants in more than 11 years. I still get depressed before that “time in the month”. I’m going through those hormonal phases where the hot flashes, the pelvic pain, and all those other symptoms try to destroy what’s left of me.
But now, depression is more tolerable to me than before. I know why and when I’m getting depressed, I have learned a good lesson from every bad experience in my life. I don’t try to hurry about anything. I establish goals and try to stick to them without hurrying. I go walking or do some exercise. I lost some weight. I try to live day by day; and consider each one of those days a gift from God. I have a very important reason to live: my daughter. I use my experience to understand others who go through the same feelings.
We, the ones who have learned to live with depression and cope with it, need to help others to make peace with depression. Yes, it is possible to not let it control our lives. We don’t need medication; we just need another attitude at life, spirituality, relatives and specially to ourselves.
Jesus promised that we would never be alone. He said it in Matthew 28:20 “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
But we also have each other. So if you get depressed, don’t lose heart, somebody will be there to help you all the way. Share your experience with me, if you like! God Bless You!