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Seeing Light Through a Cloud of Depression

“There were times when I did feel as a little girl that I had a lot of burdens to carry. I remember feeling that I wanted to be somebody else. And I remember feeling not okay about who I was.”

Lauren was three years old when her parents, who were both alcoholics, divorced.  For much of her childhood, she was fearful of her mother’s frequent mood swings.  “I didn’t know if she would get angry. I didn’t know if she would get sad. I didn’t know if she would be happy. Her overreaction would be getting very angry about a small situation. And I was left feeling like I did something wrong. So when situations like this would arise, I would begin to just feel wrong about who I was and wrong in my spirit.”

She had a close bond with her grandmother, but when Lauren was just 10 years old her grandmother died. The acceptance Lauren once knew was replaced with feelings of loneliness and depression.  “I think it was hard for me to understand everything that was going on as a little girl. And I didn’t want to open myself up to experiencing that level of sadness. And having already lost my grandmother, who we lived with when I was younger and had played a major role in my life, I didn’t know how to handle that.”

Lauren learned to stifle her feelings and tried to find a sense of worth through overachieving.  “As a teenager I really wanted to fit in. I really wanted to belong; I wanted to be accepted. And I felt so worthless. And I felt so sad. And so I would study really hard.  I would excel in sports. And I thought that my value was based on things that I did.”

Lauren’s parents went into recovery and got clean, but Lauren still struggled with depression.  She tried to find purpose and meaning in relationships.  “When I was in a relationship with somebody, I really wanted to fix them. If there was some kind of substance abuse issue, which was often the case, I wanted to be accepted. I wanted that approval.”

During her senior year, a bad break up sent her deeper into depression.  “And I remember feeling like this emptiness that something is missing. And I wanted to fill this hole and this void.  I was feeling inadequate. I just felt worthless. I can’t describe anything else but just feeling like my value was like the dirt. And I tried to kill myself. I took almost an entire bottle of Tylenol.”

Lauren was rushed to the emergency room where she recovered. Having survived, she decided to become a counselor to help others who faced similar struggles.  After college, she worked helping people with coping and life skills.  She loved seeing people come around, but still hadn’t faced her own demons.

“So some of the dark days for me…or what depression would look like, would be if I was sitting outside and the sun is shining and I’m sitting under the porch and the porch is blocking the sunlight. I know it’s there but I can’t see it and I can’t feel it. It just feels dark. And it’s hard to feel like you can navigate your way out of it.”

At work, Lauren tried to hide her depression.   But her coworker Bryan could tell something was wrong and reached out to her.  “He spoke of Jesus’ love. And I never felt anything that was condemning or shaming. And when he spoke, I just heard hope. And that’s what I needed.”

One day, while traveling together on business, Bryan asked her to trust God with her struggles.  “He asked if I wanted to commit my life to Christ. And there was just this brokenness in me. And I so wanted it to be filled. I knew that I needed something more. And I knew that Jesus was the answer. So we pull over at this place in this parking lot. And there’s this sign that says, “The Right Track”. And Bryan prays for me. And I pray. And I asked Jesus to come into my life and into my heart. And from that moment everything was different.”

Lauren says through prayer and reading the Bible she finally realized her worth.

“Today I see myself as a child of God. I see myself as chosen. I see myself as redeemed. I see myself as forgiven. I see myself as pure. I see myself the way that God sees me.”

Lauren says her recovery was a process. Christian counseling along with medication, and support from her loved ones helped in her battle with depression. But she couldn’t have overcome it without God.

“What really changed for me was accepting Christ as my Savior. There’s nothing that can supplement for that.”

Today Lauren calls the coworker who led her to Christ her husband. She and Bryan are expecting their first child.  Lauren finished graduate school and is now completing her internship on her way to becoming a fully licensed professional counselor.  She has a good relationship with both parents, and her mother is a Christian.

“Life with God is a peace that I can’t explain. And that doesn’t mean that I don’t have days where I might still feel sad, because I have. And the difference today is that I know who I am in Christ. I know where I’m going and I know whose child I am. And today nothing can take that away from me. So I don’t have to stand alone anymore. I don’t feel alone. Because I’m not alone.”

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