Monday, April 8, 2013

A Dark Battle

This past weekend, I saw the sad news that world renown Pastor Rick Warren's son had passed away after losing his battle with depression. I use the word battle because for anyone who has truly experienced the illness, every day can feel much like a war zone. The trenches are deep, the enemies are many and sometimes it seems like the crossfire will never cease.

I, myself, have struggled with depression and anxiety, so whenever I learn of someone taking their own life, I'm one of the hearts who breaks for them versus angers over their choice. I know some view suicide as a cowardly option, and some think it to be selfish beyond measure for those that it leaves behind. I know, however, that neither way of thinking is entirely true for the person who left. Often times the answer is that to go on hurting like that was just too much. Hope was gone. Hurt had replaced it. And those last days were most likely desperate ones. No malice, no selfish ways, just desperation.

It makes me sad and frustrated that it's still taboo in some circles to openly talk about anxiety and depression. I get angry when someone says "snap out of it", or when I hear uneducated (on the topic, not in general) people discuss how they view someone relying on medication to help get them through that time as weak. If depression was something we could all "snap out of", we would, in a heart beat.

During my dark days, there were times when it took everything I had to get out of bed and go to work. And there were many days when I simply didn't get out of bed. There was rapid weight loss, inconsolable tears, unfounded anxiety, and quite frankly, deep fear. I knew in my head, thankfully, that I still had a family that loved and a God that never left me, but I couldn't feel any of it. There was no break from the hurt unless I slept. I just wanted to sleep, to rest. Once my eyelids opened though, the sadness rushed back. I second guessed every word I said. I'd replay the most basic of conversations over and over again and regret them to my core. I couldn't stop the negative swirl in my brain. The swirl was winning.

Luckily, I was blessed with an amazing doctor during my first bout of major depression. Not only did he do everything he should have medically in terms of exams, but he counseled me, he prayed with me, and he cried with me at one point. I remember confessing to him that I didn't want to rely on medication to help me get better and he asked "if you needed glasses, could you physically will your eyes into not needing them? Would you say "no thanks, the Lord will fix my eyes"? I silently shook my head "no". He was right. My body was flawed and was not producing enough Serotonin to keep my brain regulated. And although I wanted my faith to move mountains, much like needing glasses, there was a medical answer before me that could save me. I was sick, legitimately, and there was a remedy that I shouldn't be ashamed of choosing. I choose life. I've since chosen it 3 different times.

The reason I wanted to write this today, probably more so for my own heart and peace of mind, is because I know depression is real. It hurts like nothing I've ever known. It makes you feel more alone than any person should ever feel. It can rip you away from the world that you know and love without explanation or warning. It is brutal and at times, for some, choosing life is more painful than not. Where light had once lived, darkness had stolen its position.

BUT, there is hope. The light does come back, eventually. You have to fight for it. Even when you think it's gone for good, you have to keep fighting. You have to listen to the people who tell you they love you and you have to trust that they do. Even when you feel numb and have forgotten what love feels like.

I've been told by many counselors that I'll struggle with depression again, and again based on statistics. I fear it at times. I now know the triggers though which makes me stronger. I now warn my husband when the swirl starts, so that he's ready too. I can't go to battle alone. No one should.

And if and when it happens again, I'll put up a good fight. I've chosen life 3 times, what's a 4th and 5th if needed?

Today, I pray for Pastor Warren's family and their son and his battle. I pray that it gives Rick Warren, who has a powerful voice in this world, a platform to use his voice and tell his son's story. I pray that his battle will somehow save someone else. Hopefully a thousand someone elses.

It's a story worth telling, even if people don't want to talk about it. Millions need to hear it. They're desperate for it.


hmgarver421 said...

You are such a blessing, Britt. An amazing writer, and an amazing friend. I am so lucky to have you in my life. <3

Brittany F. said...

Aww, you're going to make me cry. Thanks, Hill! can't wait to see you this fall!