Icy hands grasp my ankles, pulling me further into the slimy pit. “Help!” I cry, weak and confused.
Depression is an invisible, life-sucking phantom. I never thought I would become its prey. However, I found myself fighting this mysterious gloom during my college years.
In high school, I strived for success in academics, sports and leadership. However, the combination of late study college nights, doughnut splurging, school transitioning, and high expectations contributed to my hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This soon spiraled into clinical depression. My thoughts became muddled when my blood sugar levels plunged. So, diving into sweets helped me focus and feel better―temporarily anyway―before my blood sugar level dipped again.
Looking back, I would have been the perfect candidate for a depression commercial: Slumped down, hands covering a despairing face while the commentator advocates the need for proper medication. Neither my family nor I knew anything about hypoglycemia, let alone clinical depression and/or treatment options, since it wasn’t publicized much in the late eighties.
Long study hours proved futile as grades and athletics dropped. Interests in sports and outdoor activities waned as anxiety, body aches, and sleepless nights increased. My strong will gradually ebbed into emotional numbness and exhaustion.
The more I fought to stay afloat in daily living, the deeper I sank in despair. Increasing sadness and failure weighed heavily on me. Who are you? I asked the reflection glaring back at me in the mirror one day. And where is your God? The unknown variables of “what” and “why” fueled my anger and guilt.
I felt trapped inside a dark hole. My determination―which proved useful for past challenges―couldn’t bolster me to the slippery surface. Weary of forcing myself through daily motions and masking the pain, I found myself socially retreating. This is when the Enemy―Satan―pressed in the most, “why keep on like this? You can end it . . . . then you will rest.”
Through my storm, however, God faithfully sprinkled caring people in my path, encouraging me with kind words, or availing themselves as someone to talk with. My test boiled down to trust. Would I cling to my Savior―whom I’ve known since a child―believing He had good plans in store? Or, would I continue to question and give up, discounting His love and ability to either heal, change my circumstances, and/or pull me through this dark time? The Holy Spirit urged me to cry out to God.
I’m so glad I finally opened my balled up fists, surrendering everything to Him.
I determined to cling to God’s promises despite my feelings, or lack of them. At my breaking point, God’s presence became palpable, like a warm healing blanket. Jesus―who experienced the greatest suffering―was with me after all. His Spirit comforted, sustained, and eventually healed me.
He showed me great promises such as Psalm 34:17-19, “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 (woman) may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him (her) from them all.”
These were bittersweet times. Although my treasures seemed to blow away in the wind, what I eventually gained far outweighed my conceived loss. The Lord reminded me in 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NLT), “our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
The Lord assured me my times are in His hands: All the days ordained for me were written in (His) book before one of them came to be (Psalm 31:15); His thoughts toward me outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139:13-18); and, He delights in me (Psalm 22:8; 147:11).
In reflection, I couldn’t relate to Paul’s declaration about Jesus in Philippians 3:8―“Nothing compares to His surpassing greatness”―until I found myself struggling in deep water. I am grateful that I can now share: If the only thing I acquire in this life is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I have gained the most valuable treasure of all, both for now and for eternity. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
My “crushed and drooping” days of depression cycled throughout my college years. But, God carried me through daily challenges. After a year of struggling with hypoglycemia, I found some relief from altering my diet. A couple years after that, God granted my doctor wisdom in diagnosing clinical depression. Physical relief came after taking prescribed medication for a couple of months. Slowly and steadily, I found my health, energy, and former interests return.
Satan meant me harm, but God used that adversity to grow me in the following areas: 1) Christ-like character; 2) a greater capacity to love and worship God because He preserved my life; 3) more empathy and compassion toward hurting people; 4) greater trust and dependence in Him; and 5) increased security and knowledge of my identity in Jesus Christ.
Thankfully, I haven’t struggled again with hypoglycemia or depression.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand,” – Psalm 40:2.