Depression Needs Attention

Until just a couple of years ago I knew very little about depression or mental illness overall. I  realized there’s an unfortunate stigma attached to it and that most people might choose to have diabetes, heart disease, or a chronic back condition- anything- over confronting mental illness.

I’m a middle-aged professional and active woman. I have a wide range of friends and a loving, stable family. My life was cruising along normally and then suddenly I felt “different.” As my husband and I walked into our church one Sunday morning I felt a grey cloud follow me in. The cloud lingered throughout the afternoon. I noticed it, but went on as usual. The next day the cloud greeted me when I awoke. Little did I know that the cloud would become my constant companion, growing in intensity in every dimension and affecting what I did, how I perceived myself, and impacting the goals I had set.

The cloud slowly became a storm that robbed me of my normally optimistic perspectives. Fatigue set in and I found myself sluggish, moving less often, and consequently, I gained weight. The daily exercise routine was more than I could fathom. Whereas once exercise was an anticipated release, it became yet another overwhelming “have to.” Even my regular, fast paced walk in the office or to my car in the parking lot grew substantially slower. I reasoned, “You’re getting older,” yet I knew it was more than aging.

I assumed my close friends noticed a difference in me. I mean, I grew quiet and my smile disappeared. Even still, no one asked, “How are you?” Did they truly not notice a change? Did they think it would be invasive to ask or place them in a vulnerable role? Beyond my husband, who was patient and accepting, I felt all alone and lonely in this new experience. I lost hope for the future. Believe me, that’s a sad place to exist and I often wondered at that point how I would survive another 25- plus years, as the future looked dismal and burdensome; something to be endured rather than received and enjoyed.

Interestingly, my path intersected simultaneously with two individuals I’d not met before. Both are Believers and both were genuinely caring about my state of being. Though neither one is a therapist or a social worker, they asked pertinent questions, extended amazing grace, and provided solace and unending encouragement. Both made themselves available to me. They each walked with me, sharing the love of Christ in a manner I’d not experienced before. They were like an oasis in the desert and oh, so timely for this thirsty soul!

Slowly, over a period of time, I began to see the drudgery of life begin to lift. I began to notice flickers of joy, reservoirs of hope, and a slightly quickened pace returned. One year ago I suddenly said out loud to myself, “You’ve emerged. You made it!” Even so, a fear came over me as I realized the depression could return. I reminded myself again and again that while this may be true, I need to only consider what I confront today and embrace what is given to me. And I have.

Now, thirteen months later I have gotten only stronger and stronger and can see important lessons I learned from the saga. Quite honestly, I can’t say I’m thankful for the depression, but I can recognize valuable lessons learned and priceless insights provided from the experience. For those, I give thanks.

I now have an increased sense of when I interact with another person who is battling depression. I can fully empathize and make myself available to them as needed. I didn’t choose depression or cause it to happen. It just seems that the middle-aged season was ideal for it to occur and that’s that. The treasured comrades who loved me through the cloud will forever be my heroes. They each taught me countless ways to “love as Jesus loves.”  My goal is to serve others who struggle in like manner.

Since the depression lifted I began to see a Christian counselor. She has pointed me to Scripture, has helped affirm my value, and has listened attentively to my fears. This experience has been new, but comforting and beneficial. To touch base periodically with her and to know I am mentally healthy is a worthwhile use of time. My future looks bright and I give endless thanks for those who have seen me through this.

Flu Shot Season Has Arrived

Byron Ministries will host our annual flu shot clinic at our facility located at 8250 Byron Creek Dr. (Behind Byron Manor) on Thursday, October 12 from 10 AM – 7 PM.

A donation of $10 is suggested.

Plan to bring your children with you to our clinic.

Stay healthy this winter, as no doubt germs will be all around us!

Treasured Singles Group (For widows)

Are you a widow who is seeking to add a few more friends and a whole lot more fun to your calendar? Are you looking for people to share a meal with once in a while, play a game, and go on an adventure? Our Treasured Singles group may be for you! We have social opportunities once or twice a month that range from game nights and a dinner held at Byron Ministries to outings we take on a bus. In May we went to South Haven for dinner and shopping and conversation. In June we’ll have a  game night (June 7) and on June 21 we’ll have a “Welcome Summer!” party. In July we’ll trek to Pentwater for the day. There’s more happening beyond that.

If you know of a widow who might like to join us, please pass along this information. Currently the group consists of nearly 30, friendly and inviting women who share the bond of widowhood. Whether one is new to this experience or has been a widow for quite a while, it matters not.  We would love to have you join us. Call Donna at 878- 6000 Ext. 10 for more information.

Treasured Singles Group

Are you a widow or know a widow who lives, works, or worships in the Byron Center community? If so, please know that the Treasured Singles group meets once a month. The Treasured Singles are an inclusive and active bunch of ladies who take “field trips” to South Haven, Pentwater, Holland, dinner out, game playing, movies, and more! The women are a variety of ages, all with the common bond of having lost their spouse. Some of the attenders are very recently widowed and some have been widows for years. Though the loss of a spouse is difficult, laughter and fun can still be a part of your life. Join us and let us be a part of your life, too.  Call 878- 6000 and ask to speak with Donna.