Looking back at two different times of struggling with major depression in my life, I realize they were both caused by an external substance. We moved to Australia in the summer of 2000 (their winter.) I was ecstatic to be there. My depression prior to that usually stemmed from living away from my family, and Australia was the farthest we’d ever been. Even so, I recall feeling pity for a couple preparing to leave this wonderful place; I was actually grateful to live there and dealing very well with the distance from home. A year later though, I was deep in depression.
I couldn’t figure out what caused my depression, and eventually, I started doing some research online. I discovered that high blood pressure medicines sometimes triggered depression. I had been prescribed one the year before, and sure enough, the one I took identified depression as a side effect. I went to my doctor (who was unaware of this side effect) and she changed my medicine. My depression quickly disappeared.
As time passed, I suffered occasional bouts of depression. I chalked it up to hormones, but after a thirty day fast from sugar last year, I discovered that my depression had ceased during that time. Sugar is a huge culprit of depression for me. It also aggravates hormonal symptoms during PMS (and perimenopause), which is when we crave sugar the most. I believe the foods we eat greatly influence our emotional and physical health.
Women also have the burden of expectations to carry. We are all expected to be “Wonder Woman”. We assume it, too. We can do it all! Work, raise children, take care of a husband, participate actively in church, be a soccer mom,etc. (and the list goes on and on.) And the hormones are not allowed to interfere – that’s the message we get. We are not allowed to have down days. Suck it up, put on a happy face and keep on going. This attitude eventually takes a toll on our emotions and our marriages.
I honestly believe that a lot of these struggles (including the hormone part) go back to Adam and Eve. First of all, women were not called to be breadwinners or single parents. Our roles were set with Adam and Eve and God’s judgment on them (which included all of mankind). Adam would go out and toil the soil to take care of his family. (He only had to focus on one thing at a time – kill buffalo, get food!) Eve would stay at home and raise the children and keep the home in order, (dealing with one hundred issues at a time.) Those roles are deeply engraved in our souls regardless of what society says or what we do. There will always be a struggle when we deviate from these roles.
I personally believe that our confusion in societal roles is the cause for much of the depression in women and for many of the marriage problems. With ninety percent of women working now, how do they find enough time to take care of the family, a home, and their husband? These responsibilities still fall mostly on the women’s shoulders; many men don’t know how to do it or even want to do it.
A lot of women have no choice in their current roles, which in itself, can be a major cause of the blues. That being said, it is very important to look at what you can do to improve your situation whether you’re a single mother or in a one-sided marriage. You need to reach out for help from family or friends - get counseling if necessary. You may also need to look at other areas that exacerbate your feelings of depression. What medications do you take? What unhealthy foods do you eat? What areas of your life are triggers of depression for you? (For me it was not living near my family.)
I want to share with you a few words from Joyce Meyer on expectations.
Expectations Unrealistic – Joyce Meyer
“Expectations can quickly steal our peace and joy. We usually visualize a perfect day, with perfect people, and ourselves being perfectly happy in our perfect little world, but we all know that isn't reality. In reality, only God is perfect and the rest of us are under construction. The devil knows what steals our peace and he sets us up to get upset when our unrealistic expectations fall apart. After years of letting the devil steal my peace, I finally got it: Life is not perfect, and things are going to happen that we did not plan for and would rather not go through. My new attitude has become, "Oh well, that's life!" I have discovered that if I don't let those things impress me, then they can't depress me. Everyone has to deal with inconveniences, but we can deal with them and avoid a bad attitude. Remember today that only God is perfect and trust in Him. He can always lead you past disappointing circumstances, strengthening you and helping you to hold on to your peace.“
Prayer Starter: “God, only You are perfect. I am so glad that even when people and circumstances fail, You never do. Instead of putting my hope in things that will disappoint, I choose a life of peace that only comes from putting my hope in You.”
When we struggle to deal with those down moments or days, we need to not add the additional pressure of blaming a lack of faith on our funk. We are only human. We need to take more guilt-free time out to spend with our heavenly Daddy who will wrap his arms around us and give us the peace that surpasses all understanding. We are never going to have perfect living, but we can know peace in the midst of an imperfect world when we invite God to live with us.