An Unlikely Companion; The truth about the ever present shadow of depression, clinging to me when I am at my weakest. | By Dezirae Hesse
Depression: meet my dark and twisted companion I’ve known since the seventh grade. I call it my companion because it’s always there, like a shadow, lurking and waiting for me when I’m weakest. A product of the enemy no doubt. Stirred up when you least expect it. I was young and experiencing the woes of being a teenage girl in middle school. My parents were ironically becoming “the enemy” and I felt like I was alone in the world and didn’t know how to deal with all of my new and overwhelming feelings. That’s when I first felt the pangs of the unmeasurable darkness. Although I had never experienced it before that point, I had seen it growing up. My sister had tried to take her life twice when I was younger and even had to stay in a mental institution on ‘Suicide Watch’. As someone who was closest to her I knew how low and how sad she was – I had just never felt that for myself. I saw the strain it put on our family and how after my parents were quick to diagnose and medicate anything they didn’t know how to handle. I wanted nothing to do with it – it was all so hush-hush and I thought it was something to be ashamed of. So, I remember telling myself I wasn’t going to let it overtake me because I didn’t want any part of that lifestyle, and somehow was able to suppress it most of my life.
My most recent and arguably one of the deepest depressions I’ve experienced happened about a week after I got married. Odd to see isn’t it? Depression and marriage in the same sentence. As beautiful and joyous as that day was for me it was as if it was a catalyst back into the arms of my dark and twisted companion. Before I knew what was even happening I was in the dark, gray and dull world that is depression. It envelops you overnight while you sleep and you’re most vulnerable. I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t eat, I felt numb to anything and everything happening around me, and could feel no other emotion besides the overwhelming sensation of hopeless despair. What was the point of even getting out of bed when I had absolutely nothing to live for (or so it felt)? It was like my mattress had grown arms while I was sleeping and I was trapped in its relentless grip, sinking deeper and deeper into my bed. I remember feeling guilty because as a new wife I was already failing my new husband, Eric. I wasn’t the ‘Susie Homemaker’ I had idealized in my head: the house was not clean, the dishes were piling up, and I was anything but attentive. And nothing he did was making me feel better. It’s like knowing there’s a battle going on in your body (while to others you look seemingly fine) and not being able to do anything about it. I started to feel his anger and resentment towards me. Why couldn’t I just get out of bed? Why didn’t I just take a shower? Why wouldn’t I just eat? What was the point? I was a failure. The days I was able to get out of bed I didn’t feel like myself. It was like I was a hollow shell of who I was walking around with a dull sense of self. I started to withdraw from friends and family. I wouldn’t answer my phone calls and would deny any social occasion. I just couldn’t bring myself to slap on the ‘I’m okay and everything’s great’ mask this time. The enemy relies heavily on the fact that depression isolates you and goes to work beating you while you’re already down. You don’t want to let people know what you’re going through because you don’t want to burden others with the heaviness you’re carrying. I felt suicidal without the tendencies – what a terrifying realization that was.
Fortunately, we had a life group to turn to (thank you Skinny Chins – you know who you are). I admit there were a couple of meetings that I had missed because I couldn’t pretend to be okay when I definitely was not, but Eric reassured me that this is what Life Group was about: going through the ups and downs of life together; getting together to support and uplift each other when life gets you down. And let me tell you: life group is just that – a group of people that breathe life into you with love, support, and words of encouragement. Especially when you’re feeling low. That’s where my most recent visit from my “companion” was put into perspective: I was grieving the life I had. Everything I had to look forward to was now done and I was feeling like I had no purpose to go back to. It was like the person I was – even my name – was gone. As a highly empathetic and compassionate person, I had just gone through some pretty serious milestones in my life and I was overwhelmed by the change. Not knowing how to navigate it all, I unwilling sank into the infinite abyss that is depression yet again. It was so bad I seriously considered seeing a therapist and using medication to get me out (something I have never been willing to do my entire life so that was a HUGE and scary thing to me). There I was asked a simple question that changed everything: How had I overcome it in the past? The answer: I was strong enough not to let it overtake me. I either needed to give in and get help or pray for the strength to overcome. It was my choice and both were commendable. There was nothing to be ashamed of and as I was reminded I didn’t have to stay on the medication forever. So, I was at a fork in the road: turn to medication or find the will and the strength to break out of this again. I went home that night with a renewed sense of hope and the most simple answer: with God I can do anything. I prayed all night to walk in my God given strength to overcome the enemy.
You need people the most when you’re going through hard times – darkness cannot live in the light of the words which others speak into you. Every day I’m on the up-and-up and feel more positive and productive in my life and marriage. There are days when I feel like I’m slipping, but I tend to overcome. I am open about my feelings of depression now more than ever – especially surrounding my wedding. The more women I talk to about it the more I find out that it is not as uncommon as it may seem. Although I will probably battle with depression the rest of my life, I was definitely reminded about the importance of fellowship and having a foundation rooted in faith.
John 8:12 Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Dezirae Hesse has been married for 7 months. She and her husband, Eric live in Escondido and are proud pet parents (say that five times fast) to their cat, Zara and fish, Charlie. They have been going to The Father’s House together for almost 2 years, and serve on the Worship Team and TFH Kids.