Toward the Light

Darkness. It is a setting which existed even before the formation of the earth. Before there was light to oppose it, to shine into it. Before the two entities were separate, there was only dark. 

It only takes the tiniest bit of light to penetrate the dark. A candle, a flashlight. A kind word or an unexpected smile. But sometimes, we simply cannot see it. Our vision is obscured by negative thoughts, the seemingly futile circumstances surrounding us, and self condemnation. Our glass isn’t just half empty. It is bone dry.

For over a year after having my first child by means of an emergency c-section and losing my grandmother the following day, I lived in the dark. Although I’d battled a cycle of depression for most of my life, the events surrounding the birth of my son sent me into a pit so deep I thought I would never clamber out of it. I had a loving husband who treated me with the utmost respect and a beautiful child who was healthy and the most flawless thing I’d ever done, but none of it could permeate the desolation that followed me everywhere. We lived in a gorgeous area of Northern Utah surrounded by majestic mountains and vistas through every window of our home, but I felt as though I was living in a black hole.

Mental illness is not a subject which many people like to discuss. Some people shirk around it, try to make jokes and belittle the matter, and others simply ignore it. But it is real. It affects people in various ways and the symptoms are vast, but a chemical imbalance in the brain is not a condition you can simply snap out of or escape by just trying harder. No amount of busyness could improve my mood, and when caring for a newborn, there is plenty to do. 

At my six week check-up, I told my doctor about my emotional state and was prescribed an anti-depressant. Although I have heard of many success stories from people who take one regularly, it did not work for me. My state of depression progressed to nearly suicidal. I couldn’t sleep, I barely wanted to eat, and was dismally attempting to care for an infant in my zombie-like state. 

A year after my six-week check-up I had a regular OBGYN visit and my doctor noticed I was still suffering from PPD. He prescribed another pill, which gave similar results, and at that point I decided to see a therapist. For me, making the decision to talk to someone I didn’t know about my emotional and mental state was more scary that taking a medication which altered my brain. I was terrified. There was pain which I had buried so deep for so long that I was convinced that if it was brought to the surface I would crumple right there on the sofa in the patient room. But admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness. It shows strength. A faith in something you may not be able to see just yet.

I would be lying if I said it was easy. There were some fervent tears shed on that couch, but I can honestly say that seeking professional help was one of the first steps I took toward seeing the light again. I was able to cope with issues I kept hidden for most of my adult life and receive objective advice and perspective from someone who was not involved. Other steps forward were finding a supportive group of moms and reaching out to the community around me, becoming involved in our church and serving others. Each of these actions opened my eyes to the big, bright world around me. But the biggest step was surrendering all of my burdens to a God who is greater than my fears, anxiety, or self-loathing. He is a God of peace, love, and mercy.

For several years, I never shared this experience with anyone except for my closest friends and family. Now, I share with anyone who asks. I want people who feel as though the light will forever elude them to know there is hope. Even when you don’t see the light, it is still there.

I believe in a God who often uses medication and science to heal, but this method clearly didn’t work for me. Sometimes the most difficult step toward healing is admitting you need help. Saying no, I’m not fine, and being okay with that. The worst reaction you can have to depression or mental illness is to ignore it. Restoration begins with admission that there is a problem.

Acknowledging the dark is the first step toward seeing the light.

“‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John  8:12


74 thoughts on “Toward the Light

  1. Thank you, Jim. You are right that these conditions so need far more research and attention. It amazes me that neurology, so I've been told, is still in its “infancy.” There is so much we do not know about the human mind, and the human body in general.


  2. This was a great post and I would really like to read more of your stuff so I will be bookmarking this page! I really must comment on what another reader said though…
    Shaleen Sharma…wow, I'm sorry but you should really look into therapy yourself, or at the very least talk to your doctor about why you feel no empathy. It could be a hormonal imbalance or something that keeps you from feeling (apparently) anything other than upbeat. That is not normal, when something tragic happens to just shake it off and skip along your “quite funny and positive way” and when someone is suffering from depression they cannot just 'deal with it'.
    I'm sorry if this sounds snarky, I certainly don't want to start drama on your page! I just couldn't let that comment pass.


  3. Thanks for being so candid and sharing your story. So many people battle depression and feel like it is a stigma to talk about. You can feel so alone and as though no one understands, but seeking help and praying that God heals you in his own unique way is so important.


  4. You are so right that people don't like to talk about mental illness. Thank you for sharing your story. The more people who are open about their struggles, the less stigma there will be for others.


  5. It is a blessing that you share your story. In my life I have also battled depression that was fueled by a tragic childhood. I had tried medication, but surrendering to God and removing myself from the situation is what finally healed me. Sometimes all it takes is the first domino to fall.


  6. What a brave thing to share your story! I have also had my time of darkness, when I couldn't get out of bed and had dreams of running my car into a wall… and that is when a small still voice told me to go get help. I am so grateful for that voice — because it put me back on the path towards the light. I spent years on medication and talk therapy, but in the end I think it's actually an early peri-menopause that has lifted the fog fully. God and hormones work in mysterious ways.


  7. I love this, Abigail! As a Mental Health Therapist I cannot advocate strongly enough for people seeking help anytime they are suffering from a mental health issue. Thank you for sharing so bravely and honestly. I know it will help someone else acknowledge their darkness and seek help for it!


  8. I too believe in a God that has allowed modern medicine to evolve and help His children. I also agree that sometimes medicine is not what we need, and counseling can be extremely helpful, even though it's scary. I've done both, and I'm grateful that help was available when I needed it.

    Congratulations for sharing your story ad helping other people see the chance to get help from whatever source they need.


  9. “Acknowledging the dark is the first step toward seeing the light.” This is also true for those who are spiritually lost and looking for Salvation. Thank you for sharing your story.


  10. Pingback: Freedom in the Unknown | Fearfully Made Mom

  11. Pingback: 3 Myths About Depression That Need to Stop | Fearfully Made Mom

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