At this point in my life, I cannot imagine living my life without God. I do not know how I will be able to face each day without Him.
In my past 18 years or so, when I have many relapses of this illness, God has been my refuge and strength. I didn’t understand what I was going through then. Whenever I was up, I have more energy and ideas. I can be rather creative and can be filled with zeal for the Lord and His Works. I will radiant with His joy and love Him and His people.
But when I fall into depression, I will be so slowed down and miserable that I could hardly function. I have no energy nor will to do anything. From the moment I wake up in the morning until the time I go to bed, I will be extremely miserable. I dragged myself through each day, incapable of feeling any pleasure or joy. I lost my joy in the Lord. I often thought God has forsaken me. I wondered whether I was a hypocrite destined for eternal damnation. Life seems meaningless to me without God. What is the point of going on?
I cannot imagine how I could have survived the 10 or so dark and painful depression episodes without God’s preservation and mercies. During those years, I didn’t know that my condition is an illness and that there is actually a pattern to it. After several months of normal or high (hypomania), a relapse of clinical depression will follow for another few months. Each episodes usually last for 3 to 6 months.
During my darkest and most hopeless days, even though I could not sense God’s presence with me and often doubted my salvation, I cried unto Him daily to deliver me. I know I cannot have any assurance of my salvation for yesterday, but today I can still call upon God to save me.
It was through some of these very distressing episodes, that I was led to read more and more into the great doctrines of salvation, sanctification and glorification, when I was well enough to read. I needed to know how I can be saved. I needed to understand whether my experiences are consistent with other believers. Do they also go through such distressing times in their Christian walk? Or are my experiences evidences that I am a reprobate?
I thank God for making available many books and writings of His people available to us. The internet also is a valuable tool to find these resources, if used carefully.
I read John Bunyan’s “Grace Abounding” and somehow found some comfort in his awful spiritual struggles. Reading his struggles and his ultimate assurance in salvation, somehow brings hope to my dark mind. Though I could not see any light at the end of the tunnel, there are glimpses of hope that shines through. I cherish the hope that one day I too might partake of this blessed assurance.
When I was very severely depressed, often I could hardly read anything. It was difficult to read the Bible as I couldn’t concentrate. I was not able to read or benefit from good and encouraging Christian books. I also could not derive any comfort from God’s Words then because depression has a way of working on the brain to deaden it so that I can’t feel anything in general but only misery. I will own those Words of God that speaks of condemnation as though God is condemning me. But I couldn’t apply any of the comfort from God’s Words as my brain was incapable of doing so being so broken during such an episode. This was most painful and unbearable to me. Nothing I do could change this painful situation until the Lord restore me and delivers me. Depression has a cycle of its own. Even without medications and other interventions, it will run its cycle. But it takes months and sometimes years, and the suffering is immeasurable. I can only described it as having a glimpse of what it meant when our Lord was on the cross and said “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?”
Now that I am better or whenever I am not so severely depressed, I thank God that I am able to read and derive much comfort from God’s Words. I am also able to pray and talk to the Lord, casting all my cares upon Him knowing that He loves me and cares for me. God’s presence and Words comforts me. God is my refuge and strength as I sought to walk with Him in my afflictions. I look to Him daily for strength and wait upon Him for restoration. I also seek to serve Him daily in little ways. Thank God for His mercies in preserving me and strengthening me.
My Coping Strategies:
1. Looking to God
2. Accepting the illness
3. Medical Helps
4. Balance lifestyle
4b. Omega-3 fish oil supplements
5. Research and readings
6. Mood tracking and Journalling
7. Learning to cope with stress and challenges
8. Leisure, hobbies and recreations
9. Support Network
10. Counselling / Talk Therapy
11. Correcting my faulty thoughts