My Experience with Chronic Depression

When I was in my early 20s living on my own in Atlanta, Georgia, I started experiencing panic attacks and severe bouts of depression. I had friends back then who were singers and musicians, and I would go to various venues around the city to watch them perform. In the crowded bars and venues I would find myself freaking out and would have to leave suddenly. It’s a difficult feeling to explain because it would come out of nowhere and seemed to have no rational explanation. This was the mid-1990s and long before ads for medication to treat depression or anxiety started airing on television. There wasn’t much talk of mental health or these types of issues in those days, and I didn’t know what was happening to me. I truly thought I was just “weak” and unable to handle life as well as everyone else.

I was a Christian with a solid faith. I attended church every Sunday. I had a good job, got plenty of sleep, and didn’t party. I didn’t drink or do drugs. I exercised and was healthy and fit. I had never been abused, neglected, or assaulted. I’d had a wonderful childhood and loving parents who lived two hours away. I wasn’t confused about my gender or sexuality. I dated occasionally but had no serious romantic relationships. I was a little bit lonely, but had a few friends at church and work.

As the years passed, I gradually found myself crying on my way to work, at home, and sometimes breaking down during the day, though I was very good at hiding it. I had deep feelings of utter hopelessness, with almost constant thoughts of death and suicide. I was absolutely tormented by it. The only reason I never attempted to take my life was because I knew it would devastate my family. One afternoon I found myself curled into a fetal position in a corner of my living room and finally thought, “I’ve got to call a doctor and find out if anyone knows how to fix me, because I won’t survive this.”

It took me a long time to call my doctor and tell him what was happening because I thought, “What do I have to be depressed about?!” I knew how blessed I was in my life and thought I had no legitimate reason to feel this way.

I finally met with a psychiatrist who determined that I had a chemical imbalance that was the cause of my severe depression. She put me on a medication (an SSRI), and within two weeks I was a different person. I stopped crying. The dark, suicidal thoughts receded from my mind. It was like a dark cloud had cleared and I just felt “normal”. I wasn’t manic or bouncing off the walls. My mood just “evened out”. It was a miraculous answer to years of prayer.

I have had short battles with depression/anxiety occasionally over the years since, but 95% of the time, the medication keeps the wolves at bay.

The kind of depression I suffered from is something I would not wish on anyone. I’d rather have chronic pain, cancer (which I’ve had), or pretty much any other disease than what I experienced. Those who’ve never suffered from it can’t possibly understand how devastating and debilitating it is.

I thank the Lord *every single day* for rescuing me, because I don’t think I’d be here today had I not found a way to treat my condition. I can honestly say that I do not take any day that is “pain-free” for granted. Every single day I wake up, I think about this and am thankful.

If you or someone you know suffers in this way, I would be glad to chat with you via email or another way. Feel free to email me here with any questions about my experience. God bless you!