When I began therapy nearly six months ago, I was given a version of the Burns Depression Checklist. Dr. Burns created the checklist in 1984 as a way to gauge the severity of a variety of symptoms found in those with clinical depression. When going through the checklist, the patient chooses one of four responses for each symptom: 0, Not at All; 1, Somewhat; 2, Moderately; 3, A lot; and 4, Extremely. Dr. Burns also developed an inventory for those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder using the same scale.
Initially, my numbers were extremely high. It was not unusual to see a score of 90+ when I finished the anxiety checklist each day – the realm of extreme anxiety or panic. I had no idea that I was that nervous and fearful until seeing those numbers in stark black ink. Talk about startling. I had grown accustomed to going through the day on constant red alert.
This extreme anxiety got most of the attention during those first appointments with my counselor. Together we developed personalized coping strategies, among them deep breathing exercises and Scripture cards. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t availed myself of these resources as often as I should, but there has been significant progress. This week my highest score was 25, smack in the middle of moderate anxiety. Now, trust me, I know all about Philippians 4:6-7. I know I’m not supposed to be anxious for anything. When you’ve gone from feeling like you’re going to have a heart attack any second to some mild flutters in your chest, though, you take it for the win that it is.
High numbers on the depression checklist meant that I was also dealing with severe depression. This took me awhile to comprehend; I’d gone into therapy in an effort to manage my anxiety, not because I was depressed. It became quickly apparent that the anxiety was fueled by the depression, though. The symptoms of the one were so in-my-face apparent that they masked the other issues. Week after week I found myself looking at 41, 43, 40. All numbers closest to the highest possible score of 45.
I don’t do anything halfway, after all.
While I rejoice at the steps forward I’ve taken in the anxiety department, I’ve been frustrated at the much slower decline in the depression checklist scores. In September, at my lowest point, I easily scored 45+. Two months later, I’m looking at 28, 30, 29. All in the moderate depression range. Mentally and emotionally, I kick myself. I’ve been in counseling for half a year and on an antidepressant for most of that time. I’ve been given excellent resources. My counselor and psychiatrist actually care about my well-being. Why am I still so sad, so tired, so angry?
What a loser!
I was in the midst of berating myself today when God interrupted me. What He had to say was so revolutionary to me that I found myself holding my breath.
“Take the victory.”
That’s all He said. No burning bush, no lightning from the sky. No booming voice or choir of angels. Just a sure impression on my heart. Take the victory.
Being the human being that I am, I was off on another trail a few seconds later. There was laundry to be done, a dishwasher to be unloaded, a grocery list to be made. But all day I kept thinking, “Man, I really want to do Bible study.” Finally, I plopped down at my kitchen table and opened to the Gospel of Luke (my favorite).
Jesus did a lot of healing during His time on earth. The blind could see, the deaf could hear, the lame could walk and crushed hands were made whole. You never read of the woman who stopped bleeding after 12 years saying, “Yeah, that’s great Jesus….but I still have no money.” You don’t read about the blind being disappointed at what they saw. No. Each person who allowed Jesus to touch their lives, whether in physical or seemingly less noticeable ways, took the victory. They praised God for the mighty thing He had done.
It is indeed a MIGHTY work of God that I no longer want to kill myself. When those dark thoughts creep into my mind, I now have the ability to say, “No, that won’t solve anything.” Jesus’ fingerprints are all over that. Every time I write in my journal, “I just want to stay close to You; that’s the only safe place,” I see evidence of the Divine. Two months ago I was ready to throw it all away. Today, though I have more questions and fewer answers than ever before, I cling to the promise that I am here for a reason.
I was a 41. Now I’m a 28. That’s a victory.
I’ll take it.
For all the posts in the What Depression Means to Me series, go here.
9 thoughts on “What Depression Means to Me: 41 and 28”
Wow…you are truly an inspiration…thank you for your honesty and transparency. Thank you for revealing a real and common fight and directing us toward hope and victory. I am deeply touched.
What kind words, Jillian! Anything good you see here is a product of our Lord for sure. 🙂
What a mighty God we serve. I’m proud of you and your progress. Keep clinging to His promises for your life. God isn’t done with you! Thank you for sharing your story and being so honest. I’ve been down a short road of anxiety before and I HAD to speak to that storm, that mountain and tell it to MOVE. I was not about to let something rule over me when I have freedom in Christ. I say the same for you! I will be praying for you and your full recovery. I pray for deliverance in the name of Jesus from the crown of your head to the sole of your feet; inside and out. Yes, walk in VICTORY! Thank you Father for speaking into my friend’s heart. Cover her with your love, light and truth. In the name of of Jesus I pray this. Amen.
You have my support Marie. If you ever need to talk, ask for prayer to just need an ear or shoulder, I am here for you. God bless…
Living Simply In Abundance
Thank you, Terra. I enjoy reading the prayers on your blog very much and feel honored to have you lifting me up.
As you know, I have a proclivity for long comments because they impact me in wonderful ways. This is no different, but I think my response can be summed up in a single word:
I’ve been praying for you, and though I know it’s not like the battle’s over because as long as we’re in this flesh–in these frail bodies of ours–the battle’s never over and the Enemy never ceases this onslaught, it feels like this is an answer to prayer.
And there’s one sentence that feels like I might’ve written it: “Every time I write in my journal, ‘I just want to stay close to You; that’s the only safe place,’ I see evidence of the Divine.”
It’s crazy just how much I know how that goes–looking back and saying to yourself, “See? I told you so. Keep your chin up.”
Never ever hide what you’re really feeling, but know that your readers wade with you through your rainy posts just for rays of sunshine like this one.
Amen and amen.
You are here for a reason; for me to read your posts. And for many others that God may use you. What is the saying? Don’t refuse small beginnings; each one is a step of victory as you said. I know that takes time and one of the best ways I have found to get over a down moment or season is to just sit and thank God for all he has done for me.
It is good that you realize where you were and how far you have come; even though I am sure you want to arrive. Sometimes those small steps teach us more than the big ones.
It is also good you know God is with you. My dear, he has great plans for you. Look at Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore. We are all works in progress, but God knows that better than we do and he extends his mercy and grace even if we just apply a little effort.
You are doing very well.
Imagine if you will, camp talent show, a shy 10 year old boy, and his favorite staff. No accompanying music. Bright red capes waving in the wind, and cardboard/tissue paper torches (a nod to Lady Liberty.) They burst out singing at the top of their lungs, “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS MY FRIEND!! Dunn… dunn…. dun… AND WE’LL GO ON FIGHTING TO THE END! Dunn…. dunn.. dunn…WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS! WEEEEE ARE THE THE CHAMPIONS!…. ” This memory popped into my mind as I read your blog. I hope it gives you a good teehee.
Take the victory. And sing if you feel led. With God- we are the champions! 🙂
Consider for a moment that perhaps?????? your giving yourself too much credit and TOO MUCH BLAME.
God made you, God ONLY makes GOOD THINGS, so dear friend stay close to God and He WILL stay very close to you.
Take victories where ever God gives them to you, and be gentle with yourself.
You are very precious to Him; and to a GREAT MANY of us us.
Love and PRAYERS,