Faith & Spirit

Depression Nearly Destroyed Me

By Gina Fitch

I was 14 years old when my mother packed her bags, said goodbye to my dad, my younger brother and sister and me, and left with another man to start a new life. The last thing she said to me when she walked out the door was, "Don't cry or you'll make me stay." Two months later her new relationship ended, and Mom moved to England. Over the next eight years, I saw my mother twice.

The day my mother left in 1976, my childhood came to an abrupt end as I was thrust into the role of mother. I cooked dinners; I took the clothes to the Laundromat, I bought Christmas gifts for everyone - including myself. Dad moved us twice over the next two years, which also meant changing schools twice. I hated the moves for I didn't know anyone. To make matters worse, in 1978 my brother and sister decided to move to England and live with our mother.

My dad was not the kind of person who easily expressed emotion. He found it very difficult to say, "I love you" or to show affection in other ways. He also worked as a TV repairman, which meant he was out most nights.

Looking for Love in the Wrong Places

I responded to my mother's rejection, my siblings' departure and my sense of alienation from my dad by getting involved with an older crowd, which led to drinking, drugs and sex. Over time, disillusioned with this lifestyle, I became reclusive. Eventually, I no longer had any friends.

I turned to food for comfort. I also tried going to church - I longed to feel loved and to have a sense of belonging. I started going to church by myself, but found it extremely difficult to fit in. I would see the other girls in their pretty dresses laughing with their friends; I would look at myself with my overweight body and old jeans and conclude, "I don't belong here." Eventually I stopped going to church.

When I was 18 years old I met Greg, who had responded to my father's advertisement to rent out a spare bedroom in our house. Five weeks after he moved in, Greg and I decided we were going to get married. We moved into our own apartment and seven months later we married. For the first time in my life I felt like someone wanted me. I convinced myself that I was happy and that my life finally had a purpose. I was too blinded by my emotional wounds to see how dysfunctional our relationship was.

Before I married Greg I was aware of his drinking problem, but I convinced myself that I would "fix" him. Like many women, I deluded myself into believing that my husband would change after we were married. Two years later, on November 8th, 1982, my daughter Fay was born. By now the marriage was severely strained from Greg's drinking, and the extra responsibility of caring for a child added more stress to an already fragile relationship. Soon Greg was drinking excessively every day. Most nights, I cried myself to sleep. In 1983, our marriage ended.

Once again, I was alone. My dad had moved to Bermuda two years earlier, and I had no one to turn to. At 22 I found myself alone in a large city, living on welfare in a basement apartment with my daughter, and without a family or even one friend.

It was during this dark and lonely time that I turned to God. I realized that I had made a mess of my life, and that I needed His help. I turned my problems over to Him.

Still, I longed for a husband and a real family. One day, while praying, I asked God to provide me with a family. I promised that I would only marry the man that He chose for me.

Only one week after that prayer, I met Bob, a wonderful Christian man. God had answered my prayer! We were married in September 1986.

Depression Takes Over

I would like to say that we lived happily ever after, but the wounds of my past were too deep and as yet unhealed. Shortly after Bob and I were married, I began to suffer from depression. Everything was perfect on the outside - I was married to a wonderful man, I had a beautiful family and I knew Jesus as my Lord and Saviour - but on the inside, I was falling apart.

I did everything I could think of to conquer my depression. I prayed more. I read Christian self-help books, I confessed every sin I could think of, I sought prayer from others, I fasted, I saw counsellors. I tried changing my diet and started on medication. Everything helped a little, though nothing gave me the breakthrough I longed for. Many times I felt like I was going one step forward and two steps back. I wondered why a loving God would allow me to suffer this way.

If you have ever suffered from depression, you will understand just how all encompassing it can be. I lived in constant fear, guilt and depression because I couldn't seem to gain control over the emotional torment and negative thoughts that attacked my mind.

The Path to Victory

Even in the midst of all the pain, on many occasions I felt the peace of Jesus fill my soul. This gave me hope - and the motivation to keep going. When I felt like I couldn't go on, and when I cried out to God with all my heart, He encouraged me to keep going. Little by little, victories started to come in my life. Truth started to fill my heart and expose the lies that were formed through the rejection and pain of my childhood.

For the first time, I also began to understand the meaning of sin. I realized that I was trying so hard to "prove" to God that I was good - I couldn't see the pride and self-righteousness that filled my heart.

This verse described me-I was depending on my own righteousness instead of trusting in Jesus. One day, when I was feeling so guilty and ashamed that no matter how hard I tried, I kept walking in defeat, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind a scripture in Philippians 3:9, "…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

Even though I had been a Christian for a number of years, I realized that I was still depending on my own righteousness and my own strength. I finally came to the point of acknowledging that I couldn't fix myself. I couldn't make myself righteous. My only hope was in Jesus. As I humbled myself before God, I felt a peace come over me like I had never experienced before.

As I began to truly embrace God's love for me, I was also able to love myself. In turn, I found it easier to give and receive love in my marriage. There are still times when I battle depression, but at those times, I just continue to praise Jesus and thank him for His promises. I have learned that it is by faith that we are set free. We can't experience fear and faith at the same time. We either believe God's Word or we don't. It's our choice.

As God has been healing me and setting me free, He has also birthed in me a passion to help other hurting women - women who have no hope and who live in so much pain and oppression that at times suicide may seem like the only solution. I desire that God uses my life to help these women see that God is not punishing them, that Jesus really is the answer, and that there truly is healing and freedom in Christ.

Do you know God personally? Read:
Peace with God



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