I grew up in a Christian home, I have been raised going to church and reading my bible. I grew up believing that if I obeyed God’s commands in the Bible, then I would be “blessed.” I interpreted that to mean my life would go well and I would be happy. As a young Christian I thought the goal of life was to be good, love God and then he will give me good things and I will be happy. My life was very sheltered, care-free and fun. I was a bubbly, outgoing girl who loved God and loved sharing the good news about Jesus. I was very much a “Jesus Freak” and told everyone who would listen about Jesus. I was an optimist and I loved encouraging others. I led in my church youth group and served on mission trips.
I have had a “blessed life,” as most would define a blessed. I have a wonderful husband, three beautiful children, parents and in-laws that are loving and supportive, a house to live in, a job to earn money, plenty of clothes and food to eat, a good school for my children to attend and friends to enjoy it with. Wow! When I put it that way it sure sounds good doesn’t it?! It is, but it hasn’t been easy. I’ve struggled just like everyone else. I could list the struggles I have faced, but in the end, they don’t matter do they?
Bottom line, my life is pretty good. I had absolutely no reason to struggle with depression, right? I had no right to feel sad when I had so much to feel happy about??? When this picture was taken when my depression first started. I had just had my son in 2013. We look like the perfect picture of a happy family. But behind my smile I felt empty and dark inside.
I will never forget being at my darkest depressive low and seeing multiple posts about an old friend struggling with stage 4 breast cancer, fighting for her life… and here I was… healthy and contemplating taking my life… what kind of psycho was I ?!
The lies I believed as a result of my depression were many. Every thought about myself was spun in a negative way.
I thought, “I doubt God too much.”
“I can’t have ‘joy in my suffering’ like the Bible tells me to.”
“I don’t have enough faith.”
I hated hearing every single platitude that other Christians would say.
I hated hearing every single message and sermon I heard about suffering. Despite the truth that they said, it felt so wrong. The positive statements went against everything that I felt.
They made me feel worse about myself rather than encouraged.
I tried to read things by other Christians about suffering, but I hated them all. I couldn’t stand to hear what they had to say. All their answers seemed too simple and too contrite.
I tried reading best-selling Christian books but I couldn’t understand how the authors could endure such suffering and be grateful. How could they believe that God had allowed pain in order to use it for good in their lives? I doubted God’s goodness. I struggled with how a good and loving God could allow suffering in this world.
I thought I was a horrible human being and a horrible Christian indeed.
Offering praise and gratitude to the Lord felt so very hard, like a true sacrifice. I did it because I loved God. I didn’t feel Him, but I still wanted Him.
I wanted to feel the joy that I used to, but instead I felt pain. I felt the darkness heavier than before. I praised God with my words, but it felt like my heart couldn’t follow suit. My heart ached. My chest hurt.
I didn’t pray often. I didn’t read my Bible often. Every time I did, the pain in my chest felt so very heavy. Rather than feel comfort, I felt worse. I cried tears every time I prayed. I found myself always apologizing to God for my lack of faith. The ache became unbearable and God wasn’t healing me.
When I didn’t pray, I felt numb. It was so much easier to feel numb than to feel the overwhelming heaviness of the darkness. So, I toggled between seasons of deep prayer and to seasons of none at all. I longed to feel close to my God, but when I did the ache was worse… so it was easier not to pray.
Reading my bible was hard. I could hardly focus on the words. Reading had always been a favorite past time of mine, but now I couldn’t even seem to comprehend the words on the page. I would reread the same sentences over and over. My memory and ability to study was gone. I just didn’t have the attention span I used to.
The Lord met me in my darkness. He reached out and he did ultimately bring me comfort many times. But still the darkness remained. Still, the lies whispered so loudly in my ear, and eventually I believed them all.
I felt like I was drowning in the midst of the sea, in the middle of the worst storm, while everyone around me smiled and chatted about small talk. I couldn’t breathe and I desperately needed a life boat. I remember finally opening up about my pain in Bible study at church. I poured my heart out and let the tears fall, only to be met by awkward silence. The leader simply said, “I’m so sorry to hear that. I had postpartum depression after my kids too. It’ll go away. Anyone else have any prayer requests?” No one understood me, no one wanted to understand me. I felt alone in my darkness. I felt dark inside and felt like all my light had been stomped out. No one wanted to be around me. No one knew how to talk to me.
I didn’t want to work hard to be around people anymore. It was too hard to pretend I was ok when on the inside I ached in ways I couldn’t express in words. I isolated myself, and no one reached out. All of this happened while I was a mother of two small babies. It was the hardest thing I have ever survived.
The ache hurt so much I just want it to stop… I started having day dreams late at night when I had insomnia. Dreams about how to make all the pain go away…dreams of ending my life. I just wanted the pain to stop… I felt like I was drowning and I couldn’t hold my head above water any longer. I just wanted to stop fighting. I was so very, very tired of fighting to survive each day. The two things that stopped me from committing suicide were, the thought that my kids would be so hurt by it, and fear that my suicide would make them hate God.
The turning point
One day God intervened and changed me forever.
As a nurse in the medical field, I knew that depression was a mental illness. A physical disease that affects your thoughts and feelings. It ran in my family and depression commonly is a hereditary disease. On the other hand, I also knew that we are all whole people, with a heart, a mind, a soul, and a body. I knew that depression is caused by a combination of emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical factors. Depression, in return, also effects what we believe, what we feel, what we think and how our bodies work. Without realizing it, I had compartmentalized my depression. I had denied the fact that my depression could be spiritual. Until God opened my eyes to see that my depression was caused by two things. Yes, it was physical, but it was also caused greatly by spiritual warfare.
As Christians who have been in the church for any amount of time you have probably heard the verses that describe how there is a spiritual realm working in and around us all the time even though we don’t see it. I believe that Satan desperately wants to make us forget this truth. He doesn’t want us to be aware and on the ready to fight him. Once I awoke to the spiritual oppression that was attacking me, it ROCKED my world!
I believe as Christians we know depression is spiritual, we see the spiritual consequences depression has on weakening our faith. But we forget that it can be caused by spiritual attack, along with other factors.
I had a good friend come to visit me and I just couldn’t pretend I was ok anymore. I shared with her and cried with her. She grew up in a more Pentecostal church than I did and she looked at me, held me by the shoulders and said something to me that made me so uncomfortable. She said, “Allison. You are under spiritual attack. This is not who you are! These thoughts are not yours! Those are lies from Satan himself and you need to tell him and his minions to get away from you in the name of Jesus!” I looked at her and thought she was crazy. Talk to Satan? Talk to demons? I knew about evil, it wasn’t a new revelation, but the fact that I should talk to them was completely new. She challenged me to stand firm and out loud tell them to stop oppressing me. To tell them to get away from me in the name of Jesus. She told me to do that over and over again until I felt better.
My friend went home and I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said. I talked to God all the time. I prayed over and over for God to help me. But never had it occurred to me that I had the power and authority to tell Satan to leave me alone. I had absolutely nothing to lose, I was at the end of my rope. So, I secretly went into my closet and shut the door. I was super uncomfortable. But I did it. With all my strength I yelled at evil to get away from me, to stop oppressing me in the name of Jesus. And for the first time in years, I literally felt the weight lift off my chest. I felt the darkness dissipate and I felt physically light. The ache I felt in my chest was immediately gone! It was so powerful and instant that I fell to my knees and out loud praised my God in heaven. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you God!!!! For the first time in years happy tears fell, not sad tears. I felt like me again!
After that moment, I wasn’t healed from my depression. But I studied and I spent lots of time with God learning how to fight the spiritual battle that contributed to my depression. I have learned how to fight. I want to share with you what God has taught me. I have learned that I can walk this life with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and yet feel well and alive. And so can you my friend! If you needed to hear that there is hope to feel better from your depression, I’m here to tell you, grab onto hope that only comes from Jesus Christ and don’t let go. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I promise!
To learn more about spiritual warfare, and the 3 Step process God showed me to use to fight the spiritual side of depression, check out my next two blog posts!