Lord, have mercy, because I am in misery.
My eyes are weak from so much crying,
and my whole being is tired from grief.
PSALM 31:9 (NCV) WORDS OF KING DAVID
It took an act of God to convince me that I was depressed. Me? Dave Dravecky depressed? You have got to be kidding me! I was always taught that it was impossible for a Christian to be depressed if he or she were walking with the Lord. I bought into that teaching and denied all my symptoms (as well as Jan’s) of depression. At that time, admitting that I was depressed and seeking professional help would have been like confessing sin.
I really believed that if I kept a positive attitude and kept trying to help others I could and should get around my own emotional pain without going through it. As an athlete, I had learned how to push past the pain. If I stopped pushing myself whenever I felt physical pain I never would have made it to the big leagues. So naturally I applied the same jock mentality to emotional pain but it didn’t work.
It didn’t work because I was going the wrong way and it nearly killed me. It was true …
There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
PROVERBS 14:12 (NIV)
My way of dealing with my pain pushed me into unhealthy habits that inevitably lead to depression. And what finally triggered the depression? I can tell you in one word: exhaustion – I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
Immediately after my amputation I pushed myself into a busy speaking schedule – I said yes to almost every request made of me. I had been given a message from God for people who were suffering and I was determined to deliver it. As a result, I ended up exhausted.
And to make matters worse I kept busy to avoid dealing with my emotional pain and loss. My pain was still within me – waiting to be addressed – draining me just as much as my hectic schedule. To this day I can’t clearly remember those months – it’s a blur – as though I were living in a fog. I was living in the fog of depression.
The hectic schedule wasn’t the only thing that exhausted me, however. Trying to do things with my remaining hand – the nondominant one at that – made me mentally tired. I had always worked well with my hands and now I was fumbling all over the place – that exhausted me.
And pain itself is exhausting. Having to mentally deal with pain – day in and day out – sapped my energy. I experienced phantom pain daily and the pain could be unbelievable. My left hand would cramp up. Just to release the cramp I would mentally have to pry loose my missing fingers. Sometimes the ends of my finger felt like they were on fire.
And then there was the contribution of my fears, doubts, worry and then guilt. When these emotions engulfed me it was like a tidal wave had hit me and that wave did me in. No wonder I was experiencing depression!
But then I finally listened to the Godly, Biblical counsel of others.
Fools think their own way is right,
but the wise listen to others.
PROVERBS 12:15 (NLT)
After about three weeks of counseling I realized that I was just as depressed as Jan was. But what a wonderful place to make such discovery – under the care and guidance of a Godly counselor – an act of God! Bit by bit I began to understand how my way of dealing with my pain was not God’s way. I learned God’s Way – God’s Truth. I needed to open my heart and address and confess my pain. What came out was, “I’m scared. I’m afraid. I don’t want to die. Where is my faith that I have so strongly professed? I am so weak and tired.”
You know there was great freedom in admitting that truth. The truth of God’s Word set me free but so did the truth about myself that only the Holy Spirit could expose. There was wonderful freedom for me in knowing I don’t have to be anything but who I truly am – the good, the bad and the ugly – even me depressed!
If you find yourself in the same place I was – exhausted and depressed – please do not hesitate to seek help from our Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit and the help from Godly others.
“And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate,
who will never leave you.
He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”
JOHN 14:15-17 (NLT)
On the journey with you,