I struggle from time to time with depression. Sometimes there are triggers like lack of good sleep or hormonal shifts that stir-up those feelings of sadness and malaise. At other times it seems to strike me out of nowhere. Difficult to fully describe, it feels as though a phantom menace has leaped up behind me and laid a heavy weight upon my shoulders which I cannot shake off.
Visualization helps me, so when that overwhelming sadness engulfs me, I picture myself swimming in the ocean of my mind. At times, the waves of tears wash over my head and I feel like I am drowning, but than I remember that waves ebb and flow and I simply need to float for a while until I gain the strength back to swim.
Off My Radar
Having been months since my last bout, depression was completely off of my radar when the kids and I enjoyed some vacation time with family. Then, a combination of triggers and circumstances left me vulnerable and the phantom seized the opportunity.
Mothering and teaching seven children, running a household and being a helpmate to my husband keeps me busy enough, but those every day tasks become torturous when I’m bearing what feels like a 300lb. weight on my back. So it was this passed Saturday, talking myself through the day. “Get up out of bed, take a shower, vacuum the family room, dust the furniture,” I instructed me; keeping myself focused and pushing through the desire sit down and weep.
Dragging The Anvil
In the early evening, we readied ourselves for Holy Mass as a family, all the while I was dragging my weighty anvil of unidentifiable sorrow and silently sniffling back the tears. Sliding in the pew between two of my little ones, I began to breathe a little easier knowing that I could at least find a little rest while in my Father’s house.
Then the Lord began to speak to me, through the readings and the gospel, and I listened intently to all He had to say. The Word reminded me of Elijah, who prayed for death (1Kings 19:4-8) before lying down under the broom tree. An angel woke him twice and told Elijah, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” Yes, I understood Elijah, I’d prayed that prayer. I heard Jesus say He was the Bread of Life, Who had the power to raise me up. Transfixed by our priest’s homily on the Eucharist, my lethargy seemed less important.
Approaching the Eucharistic minister, I could think of nothing else, nothing but Christ. I recognized that I, too, needed food for my journey. Eagerly, I dropped to my knees and received the Body and Blood of my Lord and my God, Jesus Christ. Walking to the chalice, I repeated, “Let there be more of You, less of me, more of You, less of me.” And I prayed for healing, again.
No Thunder Claps Were Heard
There weren’t any claps of thunder nor lightning bolts, but my smothering malaise disappeared. Unaware initially, I simply enjoyed the fellowship that followed Mass and it was my husband who pointed out the transformation. On the way home, he noted the change in my mood and I became aware that my depressive feelings were lifted.
Realizing that God knew all along that I would need to hear those words of empathy and encouragement this Saturday evening, astounds me. In truth, He speaks to me every day, but perhaps I’m not always a good listener. Perhaps, I will be allowed to bear this cross of suffering again some other day, but today He raised up and I am thankful so “I willpraise Yahwehfrom my heart; let the humble hear and rejoice.” (Psalms 34:2)
Christ fed me His Living Bread, He healed me and strengthened me for the journey. For truly, He is the Living God!
**I hesitated to label this healing as a miracle when I first wrote this post, but 3 years later I am confident that it was. Since receiving Jesus on that particular day, I have never again suffered from depression.