Wednesday, 11 May 2011

If a Christian is Supposed to Be Joyous - Why Did I Get Depression?

Today begins the first post in a series of posts from Janet Camilleri, Editor of Footprints Magazine for Australian Christian Women. In this series Janet shares various aspects of her journey with depression, from diagnosis, to dealing with depression, to living with it.

As the posts are lengthy, the first six paragraphs are featured below, with the remainder of the post contained in a document on A Scarlet Rope of Hope's Scribd page.

It took a long time to realise exactly what was wrong with me. I’d been feeling miserable for months, yet there was no logical reason for my blues. The guilt feelings were overwhelming - I had a wonderful husband and children, a lovely home and comfortable lifestyle. What’s more, I was a Christian! I loved the Lord; but somewhere along the line, my joy had slipped away.

Family and friends were shocked when I was diagnosed with depression, as I’d always hidden it so well. Even when I was having a really bad day, I didn’t want to ring or visit anyone and inflict my tears on them. They had their own problems, I reasoned. Even my husband was not aware of all my symptoms -especially how often I slept, unable to get motivated beyond the basic necessities of life. He knew that something wasn’t quite right - I was irritable and plagued by headaches. We seemed to be fighting a lot, often over my reluctance to mix with others. Entertaining and visiting were things of the past.

I thought it might be a spiritual problem so I cried out to God daily for His help. I was worried that I didn’t have more excitement about Him, or soul winning, or fellowship or any of the other things that I thought a “good Christian” should be doing. Gradually I realised that God loved and accepted me just the way I was, and I didn’t have to prove anything to Him. If anything, this dry time drew me closer to God. I began to realise there was more at stake.

Then I started blaming my problems on a new responsibility - but even when I was relieved of this stress factor, it didn’t help. My usual schedule overwhelmed me. Finally, I broke down and confided in a trusted friend. With her encouragement, I sought medical advice.

I felt like such a fake going to the Doctor as there was nothing physically wrong with me. But as I explained the reason for my visit, the tears started to flow. My Doctor arranged for various tests, finally diagnosing clinical depression. I was devastated; although the thought had crossed my mind, I had secretly been hoping that I was iron deficient, which would have been a much more socially acceptable explanation.

With a family history of depression and the knowledge that I had been suffering in silence for nearly 2 years already, I realised it wasn’t going to go away by itself. However, I still resisted the thought of medication -it took me two weeks to actually take my first tablet. There is such a stigma attached to anti-depressants. Yet if I was an asthmatic or diabetic, it would be perfectly acceptable to take medication to address the problem. Why should we treat depression any differently?

Please read the remainder of Janet's story here on Scribd...

for A Scarlet Rope of Hope

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