“Each year more than 40 million Americans will suffer with an anxiety disorder and over 20 million will suffer from some type of depressive illness.” ~www.freedomfromfear.org
That is one of the many staggering statistics being brought to light this week for National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week. Although this is a wonderful event to help others understand, those of us afflicted are aware of these relentless diseases year round.
A couple of months ago, I was trapped in a dark period. One where even the bright signs of Spring outside my window were of no use.
What stands out the most to me from those days is the Saturdays I spent in bed with my son. While most kids were playing outside in the first days of warmth after a long, particularly cold winter, my son stayed by my side in our dark, window blocked room. My husband was home with us both weekends this took place, but my little boy chose to be with his mommy, his very broken mommy.
I often wonder what he will remember from those long Saturdays in bed with me. Will it be a woman unable to rise and deal with life? I certainly hope not. I choose to believe his memories will be of cuddly weekends with a mother who loved him, while being served meals in bed from his sweet, supportive daddy.
Today I’m upright and in a good place, which is the reason I can finally share that period with you. It is too hard to write about the darkness while still trapped deep inside it.
“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.” ~Elizabeth Wurtzel
A cage without a key…
I have been locked in that cage many times and am so thankful to be free today, even if only for this day.
Those of us with these issues never know when they will return. It doesn’t have to be from a difficult situation that comes about in our lives. Depression and anxiety take over sometimes. No warning. No reasoning. They just show up and bring our lives to a screeching halt for a while.
I pray for the stigma of mental illness to someday disappear through awareness events like we are in this week. It is certainly not an affliction we choose.
“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.” ~C. S. Lewis
Perhaps we should take on the mindset of C.S. Lewis. What a beautiful way to refocus these afflictions we struggle with, as “our share in the passion of Christ.” His final moments gave us so much—the incredible gift of forgiveness, direct access to God thanks to a torn curtain…
We can identify with and understand Jesus so much more through our own pain. It is often through our darkest moments we are able to see the brightest light. Unfortunately, life is not without suffering, but we can use those seasons to appreciate the beautiful times that will inevitably follow.
If you or someone you love is suffering with anxiety or depression, check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Their site is filled with resources for help and understanding. Let this week of awareness bring you the long awaited peace you deserve.