I am so sorry this is so late. Here is the newly revised continuing version of the depression healing diaries…

Dr:  Ok Mrs Johnston which is better one or two
Vickey: I can’t tell
Dr:  Ok, how about now..one or two
Vickey:  I cannot tell
Dr: (frustrated) let’s try this..one or two
Vickey:  I cannot tell
Dr:  It has to be one or the other..(clearly exasperated)
Vickey: but I honestly I cannot tell..
Dr: let me look behind your eye…oh we need to get you to a specialist immediately…

I had just had my eyes checked the Friday before this, but all of a sudden I could not see clearly.  I thought I was given the wrong prescription.  That is why I went to the eye Dr. again.  As the Dr looked at the optic nerve he saw that  there was some kind of pressure against my optic nerve. That was why I could not see.  From there i was sent to the eye specialist immediately.  I have learned since then that when your dr’s seem to hurry about, panic and do things immediately, no matter how professional they try to seem, it really causes you to panic as well. I was so terrified.  The eye specialist looked at me and said he thought it was something called pseudotumor ceribri.

Pseudotumor ceribri, that is a condition that causes your body to overproduce spinal fluid and puts pressure on the optic nerve thus causing you to loose vision.  “BUT,” he said, “it could be something far worse. There could be a mass in your brain.” They could not be for sure without further tests. I would have to go see a neurologist ASAP.  I was shocked.  I thought it was something minor and now I had to see a neurologist.  A neurologist?! I was just going to get a simple glass prescription changed…what was going on?  The neurologist  said he could not tell what was going on. I would have to have an MRI.

I remember at the MRI that i was so sad because she asked me for my wedding ring. I could not have any metal in the room during the MRI.  i had to take off my wedding ring for the first since we married. I remember telling her, “But i never wanted to take it off.” I looked up at Bobby with tears in my eyes. She looked at me with compassion and took my ring and asked if i would like for her to play Christian music for the duration of the test. “I would like that.” I said.

After the tests we had to wait for the test results for several days. And so we waited. Waiting for test results that i thought could show a mass was so hard for me. It gave me time to worry about all the”what if’s”. Thankfully the tests did not show a mass of any kind. Now I had to have a spinal tap.  Those test results showed elevated signs of spinal fluid. As it turned out I did have psuedotumor cerebri, and not cancer after all. But i must tell you that the anxiety and panic attacks while i took and waited for test results were immeasurably.  Before we knew for sure I was so afraid I was going to die. “I had just gotten married.” I thought. I  would stare at Bobby’s face. I wanted to remember it because i thought it was the last time i would see his sweet precious face.

I confess I was not handling this with Christian grace.  My depression came back. I was crying constantly. I had panic attacks.  I could not eat. I could not sleep…and for the first time since I was a Christian everything went dark again spiritually.  I could not think straight. I could not make decisions.  It was so bad at times that Bobby literally had to put me to bed.  As Bobby did all he could to care for me spiritually, physically and emotionally, he realized there was something far worse going on. He got me to the psychiatrist as soon as he could.  The Dr. asked if I had been sleeping.  We told him no. And after we told him of the other symptoms (and after seeing the condition I was in) He said I had clinical depression. He immediately put me on medication and had me join a therapy group that met everyday. There I learned about what depression was. I learned what the symptoms were.  There i learned how other people with depression were treated. Sadly, I also began to see that they did not not have the love and support  i had. They were treated so poorly by others. It really hurt to see the pain they went through all alone.

That was over twenty years ago, and sadly little has changed today, even in the church where we are supposed to find love, support and comfort. Tomorrow I am going to talk about what I learned about depression and how those around you just do not always get it….not even at the church.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.          Psalm 91:4-6

To have and to hold…

 

While a summer missionary I met a young man working in the church office.  His name was Bob.  Little did I know at the time, but he would become the second biggest and best decision I would make in my life…as I would someday say yes to his proposal and become his wife.  The depression had me in tail spins still, but everything was about to come into focus. Please understand I am not saying I am blameless for the poor decisions I made.  They were all mine, but I was finally going to understand why I behaved the way I did, like the isolation, the anxiety, the insomnia and the sleeping so much.  After meeting Bobby, he later asked my mom’s permission to court me and then asked her permission to marry me.  We were finally married and I thought all would be well,  but it was not.  It was our first year of marriage and i had a big health scare and the depression was back with a vengeance.  BUT there was a difference.  Bobby started to notice my symptoms.   He got me to a doctor and it all made sense.  I had clinical depression.  Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition. I was not just tired, down, sad, or lazy.  It was not that I did not have enough faith to get better.  I physically was not well. As it turns out, all that time that I felt lost and aimless I Was NOT.  I was still God’s child. That did not changed just because I was a Christian with depression. I have got to tell you, it sometimes felt like I was all alone, but I WAS NOT.  I really thought I was the only Christian failure out there.  But I was never out of His sight or hands. God had good in mind for me and He would NEVER let me go…Tomorrow I will tell you how we found out I had this thing called depression….

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  Romans 8:35

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.    Romans 8:38-39

Failure is Only the Beginning Not the End…

Now that I was a Christian, the terror filled hopelessness was gone.  But the depression was not.  Charlie said I should read the Gospel of John and study God’s Word to learn more about Him. And he told me that prayer was simply talking to God like with anyone.  I did these things, and grew and failed in many ways. But every time I failed God was faithful and He would always pick me up.  I would always have His promises in His Word to keep me going. He always had me in His hands even when I failed.  I still did not have many close friends.  I would come home and practice my music for three to four hours most days.  At the time that seemed ok, but in hindsight I should have gotten out more. On Saturday nights I would get in my mom’s car and listen to my favorite Christian music and drive alone on the back roads of East Texas for hours. I later did become a member of a church youth group and gained some friends.  Even though I was a Christian, things at home became much much worse. The physical abuse of my mom was at it’s worst. But we were finally able to get mom away from my step dad.

I remember we moved into an efficiency apartment with only a tv, a chair, two beds and sheets for curtains.  There were times when I would still sleep too much and I still struggled with massive insecurity and anxiety and fears of not being perfect.  I was still fearful, but not the same kind as before I became a Christian. Now I had the promises from God’s Word to keep me going. I had Hope.

I chose the farthest college I could find to go to, to run away from home.  I did very poorly in college.  I only wanted to go to the classes that allowed me to play my instrument.  I would over sleep often.   Then we could not afford to send me to back the second year.  Even though I knew the Lord I felt lost and aimless.  Though you would not know it to see me, I was very lonely inside.

While I was at college I met a man named Clint. He was a member of the Navigators, an on campus Christian group.  We worked at Pine Cove together one summer.  My family was moving to South Texas, and he lived in Brownsville, Texas.  He invited me to his church.  I visited.  I later became a part of their summer missions program. I was learning through all the ups and downs that God still loved me whether I failed or not and He had a plan for my life. Even if I did not. I could always trust Him.  My life was starting to make sense again. I did not know that these small steps of faith would lead me to the next most important decision in my …whether i wanted to marry or stay single. Because of my background with my step dad I was terrified of men. God, my perfect, loving Father knew if I was to marry I not only needed a gentleman,  but a Gentle Man.  And He was about to introduce me to the one He had designed for me before the creation of the world….my precious Bobby.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.                                                                                                                        Isaiah 49:16

Thank You Charlie….

This is Charlie and Kathy Geller.  They changed my life forever. I am so grateful to have them in our lives. I do not remember much about what I said to Charlie that day.  But I do remember what he said.  He said that God loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me.  He said that all of us have sinned and disobeyed God.  He said that this sin separated us from God.  So God came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was perfect in every way.  Because Jesus was God.  The Bible says that we have to be perfect as God is perfect to get into heaven.  So Jesus came and lived among us to teach us the truth about who God was and is.  And that Jesus was crucified for the sins of everyone on earth past, present and future. And that He was the only way to get into heaven.  Not only that, but that He came back to life after three days.  He said if I believed that Jesus was God and that He died for my sins and came back to life that I could ask Him to come and live in my heart and be my Saviour and Lord. And that I would go to heaven and be with Him when I die.   And then Charlie said something that grabbed my heart…he said, ‘do you know that if you were the only person on earth, Jesus  would have still come down and died on the cross just for you…’  WoW, that blew my mind that Jesus did all of THIS JUST FOR ME.  That He wanted a relationship with me of all people.  I knew what a sinner I was was.  I wanted this relationship with Jesus.  I asked Jesus to come and live in my heart and be my Saviour and Lord on that very day.

BAM! My life changed.  Not only did it change from darkness to Light, but from fear and despair to a hope and joy that I could not describe.  It was amazing.  And that was the beginning of the best decision I had or would ever have made. My new life in Christ began. But I would continue to struggle with depression even though I was saved by God’s underserved gift of salvation. But He knew that and died for me and came back to life just for me anyway.  He knew I would never truly escape the fear that would try to consume me, but now I was not without Hope.  That Hope was Jesus, the Author and Defender of my life. Tomorrow I will talk more about the depression struggle after i became a Christian.

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2

My Journey with Depression…

I remember two years ago while at a writer’s conference I had a consultation with an author.  There were three topics I spoke with her about.  One was teaching on the personalities, another was depression, and the other was about growing up in an abusive home.  She asked what I wanted to write about.  I said all of them. I could not decide.  And I still do speak on all three topics, but I am beginning to focus more on speaking to others about depression.  The biggest complement I ever received was when someone came up to me after a talk at a church.  I did speak on the personalities, but I also spoke on depression and growing up in an abusive home.  After the talk someone came to me and said, “no one speaks about this at church…”  I was so touched.  I cannot tell you how touched I am by the stories I am privileged to hear after my talks.  So I have decided to share with you my journey into how I found out I had depression, my struggle with insomnia and anxiety,  and how I was able to get treatment.

.. I must begin by saying that my depression was not diagnosed until I was in my late twenties.  It was after I got married that Bobby, my husband, noticed the symptoms and got me to a doctor.  I have had depression since I was a young preteen, but we did not know the signs at the time.  Not to mention I hid a great deal from my mom and others as I grew up.  She was going through so much.  I would play outside with my brother and cousins until I was a preteen.  I then began to withdraw from from them.  I started staying up all night watching old movies and sleeping during the day.  I became terrified of everything. I felt guilty for everything. I could not deal with the fact that I was not perfect.   I stopped eating and sleeping. I was almost unable to function at all. The anxiety was unbearable. My mom was able to call the pastor from the local church.  His name was Charlie…I tease that he looked more like a hippie than a pastor, and he came and shared the love of Jesus with me.  I accepted Christ that day.  I remember the darkness leaving and feeling flooded with Light…the Light of Christ.  Sadly, I still struggled with depression, but Jesus knew I was sick even if I did not. He still loved me then and does now. He did and still does hold my hand in my journey with depression every day.  He cared that I was hurting from the depression. He cared about my pain and about me. He saw past the depression and saw me.  He knew I was lost and needed Him. The depression did not matter to Jesus, only I did. I was all that mattered, not my illness….Tomorrow I will share what Charlie told me about Jesus…

The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

Matthew 4:16

 

 

 

Every knee shall bow…

My struggle with severe arthritis has been an interesting one.  I would see commercials about arthritis and think that it was not so bad as far as ailments go, but I was so WRONG.  Please forgive me those of you who struggle with or have a loved one who struggles with arthritis. There are days I can only stay laying back or sitting on my couch because the pain is so bad.  I am sometimes giddy when I can walk after a bad spell.  This truly has changed how I live.  There are things I used to do that i am not able to do now.

I have always thought of the verse, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” As a victory over a foe. You know when someone is speaking badly about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ….I think or say, “One day every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” But lately I have learned it is a victory of a different kind to me.  It is a comfort verse for me.  Now I cannot kneel.  I would love to sometimes, but I cannot.  This verse has become a comfort to me from the Father.  He is letting me know, ” I know you cannot kneel now,  but a day is coming when every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”

There is a time time coming when the deaf will hear and the mute will speak.  There is a time when those who cannot bow will be able to with joy not pain.  There will come a time when you will be able to kneel before me again.  But until then know i understand you are kneeling in your heart. But the day is coming my child…. And what a better way to be able to do that than in the praise of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.