I was a missing person.
Due to a mix-up at the apartment complex after a cross-country move, my husband and I were not able to settle in as expected. When my parents couldn’t reach us, they reported us as missing. I had to speak with the police officer they filed the report with, and I had to convince him I was who I said I was.
But I was missing for a lot longer than those few days. Others saw me, but I wasn’t completely there. I knew God was there, but I felt I had to perform for his love and attention.
Psalm 34:4-6, 17-19 “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. … The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.”
A Struggle with Depression
I’m a Christian who struggles with depression. Many of us do.
I knew that God loved me, but I couldn’t fully accept it. I could never pay Him back for all that He did for me, even though I tried. I tried to be perfect. When I realized I couldn’t be, I started spiraling downward into a depression that stuck with me for over 25 years.
Much of my depression stems from not admitting my anger. When I was very young, I argued a lot with my best friend. My mother often quoted Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” From this I understood that it’s not good to get angry. I feel I would have been better off to have heard Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” For years if someone asked if I was angry I would say “No, I’m just upset.” Somehow that wasn’t “bad.”
The depression didn’t choke me every day during those 25 years, but it was never far away. After stuffing anger for so many years, it turned into depression. There were times when I thought about ending my life, but I never attempted anything. I think the main reason was that I didn’t want to hurt those who loved me. It also wouldn’t live up to the “perfect” image I was striving for.
Trouble in My Paradise
A few years after getting married, I went in for my first round of counseling. I also briefly saw a psychiatrist who was willing to prescribe me some medication. I turned it down because we were trying to have children, and I didn’t want to start anything that I might have a hard time giving up for the sake of my baby. Many years of not getting pregnant, while providing us with flexibility we wouldn’t have had with children, sent me into a more constant depression. After all, I wasn’t “performing” or doing what I was “supposed to do.”
During one intensely low time, I knew I needed to turn to God. I wanted to read some bit of Scripture, a Psalm in particular. Not knowing where to start, I cleared my mind and calmed my heart, and saw or heard the number 34. I turned to Psalm 34 and read. The verses above in specific are just what I needed to hear. Since then I have turned back to that Psalm many times for comfort. This was the first step out of my darkness.
Have you ever felt like a missing person?
As a leader, are you aware that some of those around you are going through their own dark times?
Come back Monday for part two to learn a few ideas of how I overcame my battle with depression. I may not have the exact answer for you, but sometimes just knowing that someone was able to find hope and help can keep you going through your own battle.
Photo by Flickr (Anderson Mancini)
About Julie Holzmann
Julie Holzmann is a freelance virtual assistant and copy editor. She has been able to absorb great information from the Christian business people and coaches she has worked for, and she likes to share that information with others. In this season of life, duties as a caregiver for her mother are her priority. Julie and her husband live in Silicon Valley.