*written by Carla Rempel*
Hello, I’m Carla Rempel and I’ve been overcoming major depression for most of my adult life. I’m 57, that’s a long time.
I kind of don’t talk about ‘it’ cause that makes it all the more true. I constantly have to talk positively to myself. Depression is not positive. Your brain is kind of stupid, if you say out loud you are depressed, and your brain hears it, it believes what it hears, and it makes it worse. I need every increment of positivity I can muster. So really, I don’t talk about it. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about, that just means it is incredibly hard. And you also risk getting unsolicited advice, not helpful.
Have you ever met that person who when you ask them how they are doing and talks for 20 minutes about health stuff? I am so terrified of being that person that I never want to even start. I grew up in this church my whole life, my parents, my grandparents. Even my great grandparents worship and served here, and I bet only a handful of people in my small groups know my story.
I consider myself in good company, Biblically & historically. The Lord’s most beloved, David, was depressed. The Psalms are a cry for help. Repeated cries for help. And have you ever looked at Picasso’s work and wondered if this guy had mental health issues?
One winter day being especially low. I drove my girls to school. Came home and sat down in a chair, coat and boots on, and sat there all day. All day, till it was time to pick them up after school. Thank you, Lord, for 2 lovely children.
It's a delicate dance with meds. I probably need to take a higher dose so I won’t tear up all the time, but when I do up my dose, I get shaky. I’ve tried all the drugs, and they only work for about 5 years, and I have to switch. I recall getting 3 speeding tickets in a 6 week period, turns out a side effect of my new drug was a loss of inhibitions. Oh, I think to myself, “Ya, as a teenager I’d wanted to be a football player or a race car driver.” You can’t make that stuff up.
As humans, if our car windshield is our view of life, we tend to focus on the one tiny dead bug. Not the 99% clear view. One of my strategies is to flip things. To make sure I am focusing at the clear view. Instead of, “Our house burned down,” it’s, “Instead of buying furniture with insurance money we can invest it in my husband’s aviation career!” Focus on whatever positive I can find. Count blessings.
Obedience is an important part of rising above. Being careful to do my personal disciplines: physical routine, spiritual routine, med routine. A gift Jesus gives me, I believe, for obedience is a positive soundtrack for my brain. Instead of those 5 horrible words that repeat when my mind is blank, I get a worship soundtrack repeating. A line or two but it is pretty sweet, a personal touch from Him.
Our 100-year-old character home we restored, burned down, it was a total loss. I battled infertility for 6 yrs. We had two business failures. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, big surgery. Six months later my appendix burst, a second surgery, this time emergency surgery. Six months the incision herniates. Third surgery needed, in the same spot. That surgery was the worst. ‘Day’ surgery turned into a week-long stay. I did get to go home a week, then back another week. Six months later I had an itchy mole and I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, that’s the bad skin cancer. Four surgeries in a 2 year period.
None of those challenges compare with the brutal invisibility, the isolation, the numbness or the sneakiness of depression. None of them. By far the hardest thing.
And yet I can say that I am thankful because I’ve been personally invited to walk incredibly close with the God of the universe.
Grant congregant for 57 years