The Door – Depression in Parents

TunnelDoor

THE DOOR

This short story represents the struggles and even depression that parents go through when they are dealing with a teenager in crisis. As you read this story, I pray that it will minister to you in a way that will show you the door to freedom.

His exoticism implored me to come. As I lay near him, I felt no fear. This calming affect I could not ignore while I was being drawn to bow with allegiance as I caressed the beast. The power in his body was striking beyond words. He was pleased that I had followed and joined him.

Feeling my own presence next to him, I stared at a mirrored reflection across the vast room. I continued to watch him from the view of the mirror. His glowing, sharp, amber eyes were steadfast, hypnotic and yet unapproachable. One could not help but stare at his eyes but still be careful in not getting caught. How in the world did I get here? Why was he allowing me to be with him when in a split second I could be devoured in his abyss? I did not dare to question it. I only kept silent, waiting for his next move.

The joyfulness and slow rhythmic pounding of this beast’s body hit the floor. He was pleasured by my obedience. What will this cost me? Part of me knows I am playing dangerously, but the pull is strong. So strong, that if I had a choice to leave or stay, I was willing to stay.

The next two years that followed I lived in this seductive world. Each day that passed brought me new decisions to face. Would it be to live in fantasy or reality? It drove me in ways and places of my mentality that I had never taken before. I either lived on the edge or lived just within the border of safety.

At what level would I say I needed to pause, think about where I was taking myself? I questioned my actions daily as I dragged myself out of bed. The convictions that lay buried within me were powerful, but not persuasive enough to keep me from jumping to the other side and enjoy the darkness.

There were days that I dreaded what was to come. Apathy was deepening as time went on. I didn’t care anymore. I justified everything to make my new truth. Truth is deceptive when it’s your truth. And my truth was gradually drowning me while I was slowly trying to reach for help.

Those two years were pivotal to whether or not I was going to survive depression. I hadn’t recognized that the symptoms in my teen’s life of depression were also in me; A downward feeling here, an emotional rollercoaster there, eating like crazy or not eating at all, thoughts to run away or withdraw from everything around me. Every day was a battle.

“My heart is pounding. I have lost my strength. Even the light of my eyes has left me.” Psalm 38:10

Have you ever seen those commercials on TV of the elusive, aloof, depressed person is off in the corner away from others or lying in bed under the covers in darkness? Yes, there are some people who have this kind of depression, depression that is beyond the “I’ll get it together soon” attitude. But there are others who go through changes that stand out or do things out of character.  And then there are some who just drudge through the day with fake smiles on their faces.

There are many factors as to why depression happens. Sometimes it is passed on genetically or through tragic circumstances in a person’s life. Sometimes it comes from an unresolved past or due to major phases and stresses in our lives that makes us question life. For teenagers, it is even more overwhelming and difficult to cope than an adult.

I truly believe that if I didn’t have the Lord in my life, my depression would have gotten so distressing that suicide may have been an option. Depression is such a secret kind of life, just like a secret for those who are affected with alcohol, drugs, and other addictions.

I struggled with the mental highs and lows, overly stressed with life’s problems along with my teen’s crisis after crisis. Withdrawing myself from friends, family and volunteer work was becoming the norm.

What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace,no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job 3:25-26

Prior to finding out that I was indeed battling depression, my pride was stepping in and saying, “You can handle this and besides it’s none of anyone’s business!” However, there is a point in which your control of life starts to slip away right before you and if you don’t do something quick, a train wreck will happen. And when depression is upon you, can you honestly say you can make a good decision for what is going to help or heal you? Can you, being under that depressive influence, help or heal your teenager who is also in crisis? No, because you’re so submerged in your depression that you really cannot act as a health representative for yourself or anyone else.

You really do need someone to evaluate your situation to see if you need intervention or counseling to sort out those thoughts and emotions. It is important to get a good diagnosis in order that psychological help can be applied immediately. Looking at counseling from a different perspective now has made me realize that counseling IS a step of handling your life and it is nothing to be ashamed of. It is also a great example to your teenager that reaching out for support is a good and healthy thing to do.

His luring majestic presence was growing with each passing day. It radiated into the massive maize of his kingdom and throughout each room. When I could, I observed him carefully but still avoiding any intimacy that would draw me closer than what I truly wanted.

A new visitor I had thought, entered the room from the portal door that acted as a bridge into another world. The door, I vaguely remember coming through, was watched now at all times. A beautiful young girl walked with her head down as if she knew where she was going, unaware that I was following her with my eyes.

Suddenly, coming from the same door, the room began to fill quickly with black, shiny spinifers. They were moving rapidly in every direction alarming me to search my surroundings for a place where I could feel safe and hidden. My heart pounding, I screamed in my mind, “Run, danger!” as I gazed at the girl moving towards me. With fear driving me to rescue her, I stopped in my tracks realizing that she was not in any danger at all.

I was baffled as to why they were not attacking her with their deadly poisonous sting. Instead, they traveled around and away from her as if she were not their true intentions. Their eyes fixated ahead, I ran towards the steel ornamental decorations around the  window nearby and hoisted myself up on a ledge to reach higher ground. They were heading straight for me while my master did nothing but observe. And as hastily as they came, they were gone.

My depression that I grew to be close with had friends; Turmoil, Stress, Persecution, Judgment, Anxiety, and more. They brought up every failure that I struggled to overcome. Every day they reminded me over and over of my unworthiness and the constant mistakes of my life and as a parent.

When depression and stress become the only thing you can feel on a daily basis, you start to feel hopeless and faithless in God and in mankind. You get into a survival mode of finding safety in your depression or letting fear grip you into staying in that depression. For me, safety was my survival.

Depression drew me in which was a source of power being surged through me. No one could take away this feeling. I hid it very well. It was my secret. There were times in which the word depression came into mind, but I easily denied that word.

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help;my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.”

Psalm 69:1-3

Depression often makes you feel less of a person because it is difficult to change it if you don’t have the tools to know how to correct it. That was partly true for me. I’m a control freak! Let’s face it, I like order. Not anal order, but enough to make me happy and those around me happy. Organization was my middle name. But little circumstances here and there started to unravel that organization within me as well as situations in my life. Losing my ability to organize and administrate somehow invalidated me as a person. I lost satisfaction of what I could accomplish ahead of time. It would pain me in not being able to get things done.

It was getting harder to make decisions that were once so easily checked off on my list. My lack of concentration made it difficult to make agenda’s, set goals, do daily chores or shopping which led to disappointments. What was so simple back then and so much a part of me for most of my life was only struggle and discouragement now.

To be very honest, I was embarrassed. So many of my friends saw in me as intelligent, skilled, a leader, prompt, organized, talented, visionary, and more. But all I could see was worthlessness, imperfection, and failure. I was too afraid and prideful to confide in anyone of how I was feeling. Maybe if I did, I might have been rescued from further pain and hopelessness in my world of depression.

“so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning.” Job 7:15-16

Some of depression’s biggest allies are failure, guilt, criticalness and hopelessness. I started to question everything. Was I a good mom? Was I a good wife? Was I a good friend? Was I good enough for God? All I could see were my past mistakes, my sins, my shortcomings, and my worthlessness.

Being a perfectionist in many areas of my life also generated an immense amount of stress, but as time wore on, my perfectionism slowly faded away. I did not care about anything in my life as the depression continued.

My enjoyment of projects and ideas and interests became less important, with no desire to act upon them or even participate in them. I backed away ever so quietly from those things and became more and more distant. In actuality, I felt relief.  I also felt isolated and different among my closest friends. They didn’t understand what was happening to me. They saw someone they knew retreat farther and farther away and although they tried to reach out, I never let them in. I gave every excuse in the book from stress to being overly tired and not sleeping well. Although they were true, I took them to the next level of meaning.

My loss of interest in other people did not seem to frighten me. I believe that being independent in life for many years allowed me to walk away from my friends without feeling too bad about it. We’re not talking about a friendship of 1-2 years. I had friends from 12-25 yrs. Seeing my depression worsen, I still would not call out for help.

Despite my spirit alarming me to the danger and the darkness of the beast, I was still serving him. But as time passed, there began an awakening within that began to open my eyes to see more clearly of how I was led to this place. Submerged inside me began a calling.  No longer did I look at myself, but to deliver the one who was far more imprisoned than I.

The young girl was already influenced by the master. I had learned as the months went by that her thoughts were chained up by the pain and agony in her life of abandonment. The pain that she was carrying showed in her countenance and I could see it now, whereas before, I was too blinded by my own situation.

Her destruction would be imminent if help would not prevail. In the midst of my own condition, I began to see myself in her and the progressing crisis for the both of us. If I couldn’t escape for my life out of my own trap, I would do whatever it cost to save hers.

My mental core started to get stronger with a new goal of saving this girl. I wanted to pray but was ashamed and not sure of how God would accept hearing from me. The beast was not aware of my gaining inner strength, despite how small it was. I continued to stroke him to show my dedication but kept privately my thoughts and expressions. I did not dare to let down my guard.

The waves of persisting discouragement would often come over me on how I was to accomplish this task of rescuing her. But determination and being bound to this mission was pushing me to move forward with an outlook of perseverance that I had not had in a very long time.

I must not fail her. I must overcome my feelings of weakness, tiredness, and no appetite. How was I going to deliver this young girl if I had no energy or brute force to fight the very enemy I lived with? Restless are my nights as I tossed back and forth in my predicament. I must prepare for the battle, a battle for this young girl’s life as well as the battle for my own.

Thoughts of my past troubled me and kept me from moving forward. Depression only compounded them to a degree of paralyzation. Any self-esteem I had was put to the test many times. Sometimes I failed, other times I passed. With depression, any good self-esteem goes right out the door. And soon, without my awareness, I started to lose weight.

For some, depression leads to weight troubles. Standing only at 5’4 in height and normally weighing about 115 lbs., within weeks I had lost 15 lbs. and at one point a total of 20. I’m not one to stand in front of the mirror and check myself out. And when I did, it was from the neck on up. It took a discreet friend of mine to confront what was happening to me by whisking me off to the clothes store to try on some shirts and reveal that I was in big trouble.

I knew the weight had significantly changed me, especially since my clothes were starting to fall off. “No problem, just buy new clothes that fit!” was my thought. But standing there seeing my bony arms and how anorexic they looked took me back quite a bit. I had no idea at the tremendous change in my body. It got to the point that my children noticed and were actually frightened and didn’t know how to deal with the situation.

“My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.” Psalm 102:4,5

I took that opportunity to force myself to eat when I didn’t have the energy or desire to do so. I knew that I needed strength to fight the fight. I also made some very big decisions that required me to get out of my safety zone. I knew only God could give me the strength to do that.

What I was struggling with, my family struggled to understand. I had to re-direct my negativity into something positive and focus on what God required of me. After all, if I was going to call on God to rescue me, then I certainly would need to follow his advice and direction.

I was dealing with warfare. I had allowed and nurtured the beast to have authority over me for way too long. It was time to take a stand and prepare for my next move. I looked to others to oversee the care for my younger daughter so that I could take a break and go out and re-acclimate to the outside world. Just an hour here and there was like a breath of fresh air. I started to go out for an hour with a friend to connect and enjoy a cup of coffee.

With the guidance of my counselor, I was able to find something that I truly enjoyed to do (although it seemed like forever to find something that would peak my interest). My husband loved me and prayed for me and offered support in every way possible even though he could not begin to comprehend what I was going through. His constant love, prayer, and devotion to me throughout this entire period of my life were wonderful but I know some people don’t always have the support that I had. That is why it is imperative to surround yourself with loving family and/or friends who can uplift you and pray for you and maybe even carry you when times are tough.

His presence around me was lightening. His trust in me was complete. My allegiance never wavered. In his absence I continued to reach out to the young girl. Her long, cascading, black hair was breathtaking and draped half way across her face to hide herself, and softly down her back to her waist. She had lightly sun-kissed skin and large dark eyes that drew you deep into her soul. There was a shyness to her that could not be denied. Her voice whispered so I listened intently and patiently.

It took time to pull her out of her timidness, but she willingly trusted me, enough to share her rejection, feeling forsaken, and her desires of death. Peace through final mortality had become a beautiful wish for her to hold on to because life was more painful than death itself. My heart melted before me with such compassion. How could this young one be so overcome with such sadness? And why couldn’t I see that I was following the same path? She had hardened to the point that she was unable to cry. And when she allowed it, her tears were profuse and overflowing. She was empowering me in a way that I have never felt before. A quest for hope and freedom had begun, not just for her but for me as well.

There comes a point in your life in which the depression will either continue to get worse or you fight it with every determination to gain a new healthy you and perspective in life. I consider depression a daily slow death. It won’t kill you itself, but you feel like there is nothing left to live for.

I have come to learn that depression doesn’t just affect you. Depression affects your job, your marriage, your friendships and your children. It is like a very selfish parasite. Once it enters, if you don’t take precautions right away, it will spread quickly and choke the life out of you.

When you are going through depression, it is very difficult to pray. I had no words to say as if I had lost my voice. I realized however that God understood this. He understood my distress, my sadness, the depth of my affliction and loss that I couldn’t seem to overcome.

By confessing that feeling to God, I was able to open my heart, my mind and my spirit for His healing. I didn’t have to say big words or pray so many times a day or confess tons of sins as if that would be the answer for my healing. I think in retrospect, that is the very reason why I could relate to so many in the Bible who also dealt with depression.

Job, Jeremiah, Jonah, Elijah, King David and more, well, they weren’t a perfect people. They didn’t have medications to control their depression or counselors to call on to discuss their feelings and thoughts and get the assistance the way we do today. But when they cried out to God for help, it was if they were speaking the words for me. Sharing their innermost groans was beautiful music to my ears. I was not alone.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and
day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and
my foes will rejoice when I fall. Psalm 13(a)

I have read the Bible and studied the Word many times, but when you are going through depression, the Bible is often the last book you want to read no matter how spiritual you are. It is by encouragement of others, prayer support from others and accountability to others that begins the process of removing that stigma first of all. The next step was accepting the help, and incorporating the Word to refresh your spirit and mind so that you can finally walk that path of healing you so desperately need.

Reading over the Psalms and connecting with King David in his trials, his deep sadness, his battle with emotions and so much more, gave me a reason to feel that I was not in this battle alone. God truly did love me and comprehended how I was feeling.

God also reminded me that He never left me throughout this entire period of my life. He knew I would come back. He knew that I would need Him to get through this. The Lord knew I would also become victorious in the end too. All that I had been through was not in vain, but a stepping stone to help others climb out of their own depressive state.

My last advice – Take action to get the help you need. Have hope – you don’t have to live like this anymore because there is an answer. Remember the promises of God – read through His Word and His light will uplift you and guide you. Confess your own weaknesses – to yourself and to God and ask for strength. Rejoice! God will never forsake you for He endures forever!

Time was quickly running out. Choices and decisions had to be made if we were to make it out alive. I did not share with the young girl my plan. It may have frightened her in taking away the only life she was accustomed to. I thought of all the options to see what paths I could take to leave this place. Unfortunately the only pathway out was the same pathway in….through the door of despair.

It had been a long day and we had retired to the big room to talk and relax. Late at night and too tired to move, I laid there with my eyes closed and yet I was still awake. I had decided to pray as if it were my last prayer with every drop of hope and courage I had left in me.

Praying seemed foreign to me and I was not sure if God would even want to hear from me since leaving to the side of darkness. But I earnestly and humbly cried tears of forgiveness and asked God to rescue us. Although my strength was still weak, I knew I had to take the chance. If I did not follow through, it may be the end for the both of us.
I sensed as I prayed, that my physical strength was building more and more. I had a new confidence that made me feel like I could climb any mountain no matter what it was made of. As a blanket of peacefulness enveloped me.  Soon, a surge of light hit my weary sleepy eyes and I hurriedly opened them.

There was a strange golden luminosity coming from the open door, the very door of despair. As I pondered what it could be, something within me said to get up and go. I had this calm and overwhelming feeling around me that I was safe. I didn’t waste any time. I was thankful that we had spent most of our time in this room today and that the young girl had fallen asleep.

Quietly and softly, I walked across the massive cold room and gently woke the girl. With my finger over her mouth to stay silent, I motioned for her to come. Not knowing if she would hold back, I grabbed her petite hand tightly and whispered, “Trust me.” Our bond grew so much in the previous months we were together, I was thankful she consented to follow me.

The light was bright to her eyes and I shielded her face with her own hair. Although the beast was not present, his spinifers were not far away and any quick movement could cost us our life. Again, under my breath, I asked God to protect us and hide us. With as much bravery as I could muster, we went towards the light that swallowed up the darkness before us as well as blinding any awakened spinifers nearby.

With my hand partly shielding my eyes, we moved ourselves near the wall to give us some sort of guidance. Sliding our standing bodies against the wall, we moved towards the door.  The girl’s hand started to shake in mine and I squeezed her hand gently to assure her that we were okay. Not knowing what was on the other side as we met the entrance, I wrapped my arm around the girl’s waist and drew her next to me to prepare for what was next.

The power of the light was so strong and yet so warm that any nerves I struggled with passed instantly. This was it! I motioned to the girl to get ready to step through. Step into what, I didn’t know, but I knew that instinct kicked in and my mind was filled again with the word “Go!”

With feet stepping forward, it seemed as if a time warp was happening in mid-air. As we were continually being surrounded by this omnipresent light that used no light bulbs or energy from the sun, the girl’s hand in mine relaxed and let go. I could see for the first time a glimmer of hope across her face as she was looking forward that transferred to my heart.

In slow motion, she turned her face towards me. Not expecting what came next, she threw herself at me with arms wide open and grabbed me so tightly that I barely heard her words, “Thank you.” I, then too, finally sensed what she was feeling at that moment.  A peaceful tranquility that has no words came over us with a deep encompassing embrace which comes only from God.

With time to heal and to be nourished, we followed this new journey.  We were thankful for the renewed hope and reconciliation we had in our loving God.

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