When we pull down our mask and let people in we have the opportunity to not only develop closer relationships but also make an impact on many lives. This is something that I have struggled with and was one of the reasons why I started this blog in the beginning. I needed to find a way to break down my tendency to put on a perfect show and to truly embrace God's leading through all situations in life.
Kathryn, thank you so much for your open heart to touch on such a timely topic. I know it's something that will open the door to healing in many lives. Blessings to you and Joseph as you continue to grow together and seek to follow God's amazing plan for your marriage and your lives.
The Big “D” Word
By Kathryn Hofer
I would like to premise this post with the following: Life is a journey – one that can seem uncertain at times. For most of my life my journey has seemed straight forward and simple. I have been blessed with an amazing family, a solid upbringing and supportive church family. Having those things does not always guarantee success in life. There are so many personal choices that occur over time, belief systems that can unknowingly exist under the surface and circumstances outside of our control that affect the turns our life can take. Some of these choices, belief systems and circumstances are what led me to the part of my journey I am about to share.
Two and a half years ago I crashed: spirit, soul and body. This wasn’t the first time I had experienced pain or inconvenience in my life – injuries and pain had been a way of life for me for many years. However, this was the first time where I felt completely out of control of my thoughts, my body, my future and even each waking moment. For a control freak – this was terrifying. In one moment everything I had been confident in, knew about myself, believed about my life was erased and a blank, empty and uncertain future lay before me. I was exhausted all the time and getting out of bed became a chore.
I had been engaged for only a matter of weeks. And the woman Joseph had fallen in love with no longer existed. Just an empty shell was in her place. Being the hard worker I was I continued giving the best I could to my job and my other responsibilities. I was confused, unaware of what was going on but determined to get through. Not understanding the struggle I was in, I gave Joseph many opportunities to postpone the wedding – but he knew that God wanted him to follow through. Little did he know how important his role would become in my recovery.
A mere six weeks after our wedding and I was in the hospital with a diaphragm spasm, followed by almost two months of physically being out of commission. My body was showing major signs of self destruction and I finally had to stop and listen, and realize that the stress I was putting on my body was wrecking havoc.
I was a full year into my struggle before I could say the “D” word out loud and face the reality that I had been diagnosed as being clinically depressed. That was a hard day, finally being able to acknowledge that my incorrect beliefs, insecurities, overachieving, constant giving to others and people pleasing had finally caught up with me. That is when the journey back to health began.
Through hours of counseling, gallons of tears poured out in prayer, and a very, very, very patient and loving husband who believed in me, I was able to gather the courage to face my giants. And let me tell you – there were a lot of them. It was an ugly, uphill and daily battle – not one I would wish on my worst enemy. Over time by bad days became farther and fewer between, and smiles came easier. I opened myself up to love again and began, brick by brick to rebuild relationships I had willingly abandoned.
Today I still struggle and still have bad days. But with my family’s love, God’s promises that I hold onto tightly and Joseph – who has never left my side even when I had given up on myself – I am a depression survivor. I had the courage to stare that monster in the face and tell him he wasn’t going to beat me. I have had to change the way I see myself: as a valuable, worthy and loved woman. I have had to change my confession to a positive one, take time to be in God’s Word, and lower my expectations I put on myself. I have had to reassess where and how I spend my time, start taking care of my physical body and learn how to pause and enjoy life.
If you have never gone through depression or never known someone who has, here are a few things that may support someone when you do. Please be patient, don’t ask too many questions, and give them space. They have to choose to beat it, and when they do, they need you at their side every single painful step of the way. And they need you to speak positive, encouraging and life building words. They already have enough negative ones for both of you.
I never thought I would be one with a chapter about depression in my life. But I know that this is just another piece of my story that will continue to impact others for years to come. I have learned to never give up – and it was probably the easiest option at the time. I chose to continue serving. When we can get our eyes off of ourselves we’re able to see past our pain and see the struggle others are going through. I have learned that I need to have a few people in my life who I keep close – who are willing to love me through my good, bad and ugly. The last and most important lesson I learned was not to judge. We never, ever know what people are going through – and depression can carry such a stigma. People are people, and hurting people hurt people. They are also the ones that need our love. So let’s start loving.
~ Kathryn Hofer