The Long Way Back: My Mental Health Struggles

Last updated: May 2023

I have been absent for a while. I am sharing my experience in the hopes that it helps each of us recognize symptoms and needs that MUST be addressed.

Losing joy

I am not sure when it started, but I know when I recognized that something was wrong. I have been a singer my entire life and have trained professionally. It has always been such a source of joy and worship for me. During Christmas Eve Services in 2022, I was startled to realize I needed to remind myself to smile and show joy! No matter how depressed I had been in the past, I had never had this happen.

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Health issues and a loss of motivation

The last year has been spent adding medications, including prednisone, to my regime because my treatment was failing. My middle fingers bilaterally are now crooked due to my RA. I also have had problems with my blood glucose and blood pressure. I had to have a MOHS procedure on my chest due to basal cell carcinoma. I tend toward seasonal affective depressive disorder some years, but I thought I was okay.

All through January, I had no desire to do anything. I struggled to get to work and be functional. I went home each day, put my feet up, and read or played games. I canceled times out with friends. I spoke with a friend at work about overwhelming fatigue and lack of motivation. It reached a crisis point on February 1, 2023. I serve a church as a Faith Community Nurse, and I was irritated by people asking me for help! I looked at everyone as needy and draining my energy. I reached out to my pastor at my home church and went to see her.

Unknowingly suffering from depression

After a very tearful and cathartic hour and a half, my sweet pastor took my hands and prayed with me. Then she recounted my symptoms and said, “You do realize that all of this indicates that you are very depressed.”

DUH!!! I felt like an idiot, but so many times we cannot recognize things in ourselves. I called my psychiatric nurse practitioner and had my supplemental anti-depressant restarted, knowing it would take a month to show effect. I emailed my church choir director and took a sabbatical.

A new beginning

Now there was a very small glimmer of hope. I began reading Kate Bowler’s book, “The Lives We Actually Have.” I reached out to a dear friend and talked with her. I took a day off. I treated myself to dinner out. I continued to pour my heart out to God. It was still dark, but I knew light had to be coming.

Toward the end of February, I took a week off and spent it in my beloved Great Smoky Mountains at my brother’s cabin. On a bridge over a small river, I found my smile. Nature in all its beauty is so restoring. I was able to sing on the mountain, and it brought me joy. As sunshine returns and the days get longer, I am doing better. I am enjoying my calling again and have been able to see others clearly.

Chronic illness and pain have a direct link to depression. My anti-depressant helps me manage pain and the constant drain of my happy neurotransmitters. Sometimes, we need more. Please reach out, get help, come to, and know you are NOT alone.

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