By Audra Sanlyn
This week’s story of hope is from my writer friend, Audra Sanlyn. I pray her transparency and vulnerability will be a blessing to someone who is hurting and needs to know they’re not alone.
I was seventeen when I noticed it.
The fatigue. The loss of appetite. The inability to enjoy the beauty of life. I was in an abusive relationship, but felt I deserved it. Why couldn’t I just snap out of it? Maybe it was my relationship with God, or lack thereof.
After ending the abusive relationship, I started dating the man who would become my husband.
I spent the next ten years going through the motions. It took every ounce of energy I had to get out of bed and go to work. In 2002, I’d been a healthy 120 pounds. I now weighed 100.
During this time, I married the love of my life.
My husband suggested I seek treatment for depression. Since I prefer natural alternatives to medicine, I avoided counselors and instead tried sun lamps, vitamins, everything we could think of.
In 2008, skeletons started coming out of the family closet. On both sides. My view of our family, previously sunshine and rainbows, changed to something more akin to a whirling thunderstorm. Turned out members on both sides had depression—some medicated, some in denial. My paternal grandfather was among the latter, and we lost him to suicide in 2009.
Thankfully, my fertility wasn’t affected during this time and at twenty-seven, I had our first child.
They diagnosed me with severe depression and put me on medication along with regular CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) sessions.
This was the turning point. I realized it wasn’t my fault. It was a chemical imbalance combined with triggers from my youth.
The depression had taken a toll on my relationship with God, not the other way around. The medication gave me the energy to take care of my family, work, and enjoy the little things. Since our second child was born in 2018, I’ve experienced the joy of her smile, her toddles around the kitchen floor, all the little things I completely missed with our first child. Because I wasn’t there.
Doctors know so much more now than they used to. Depression is understood to greater lengths than ever before, and there is help. If your depression is mild, natural alternatives may help. For many, though, it’s not enough.
Don’t be afraid to seek help.
If you know others with depression, talk to them. Because it’s a very difficult illness to understand from the outside. Knowing there are people out there who are going through the same thing can provide incredible relief.
No matter what, do whatever you can to treat your symptoms. For God, for your family, and for yourself. Because God died so you could live—fully and for Him.
Resource: The American Association of Christian Counselors https://www.aacc.net/
There are Facebook groups and online communities created specifically for mental illness information and encouragement.
The best support you can receive is from family and friends. If you know someone with depression, do your research. Be patient and understanding. And pray.
Audra Sanlyn is the author of Through the Eyes of a Veteran: A History of Winchester, a memoir/local history based on the life of her husband’s grandfather. She is a member of ACFW and ACFW Virginia Chapter and serves as Secretary for Capital Christian Writers Fellowship. Audra stays at home with her two children, writes a monthly encouragement blog, and leads her church’s youth ministry with her husband.
As a thank you for subscribing to Audra’s newsletter, she’s offering a FREE download of a flash fiction story called 1982, which provides a glimpse into the life of Lisa, a minor character in Audra’s upcoming novel, Impact. Subscribe here: www.audrasanlyn.com
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