This is part 1 of 4 of a 4 part series reflecting on my experience with Depression.
As I reﬂect back on my life, I believe the experience that affected me the most profoundly was the bout I had with depression. It started around August 2006 and ending somewhere around the end of the summer of 2008. Though 2 years may seem like a short time to some, every inch of it was hell for me. The depression started around the time that my brother got arrested and continued while I was a senior in college, wondering what my next career move would be. It was a time where the chemicals in my brain became unbalanced and a time when the Lord was just allowing me to sit in the furnace for a while. As far as I can tell, there were a number of factors that could have been a trigger to send me into that thick, deep darkness I endured. It could have been a mixture of some or all of these things. I can say with conﬁdence that, that experience of depression allowed me to know myself in much greater depth. It inspired me to be a counselor, to help those who are hurting mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. That time in my life, more than anything, helped me to trust more in the living Savior who raises the dead.
Around August 2006, during my ﬁrst semester of my senior year at the College at Brockport, I began having heart issues. I wasn’t sure if it was acid reﬂux or just some health difﬁculty as a result of consuming energy drinks a few times during the week. I recall taking Pepcid AC and drinking red wine to sooth this problem, which did help. It was around this same time that I had an episode that I can only describe as what felt like a heart attack. One of my arms were aching before the episode took place. It was while visiting a very good friend and brother in Buffalo. I was awakened out of my sleep with a cold sweat and shortness of breath. Sprinting to the bathroom, I splashed cold water on my face, and begged God for mercy. I was sure I was going to die there. "What's wrong with me?" I thought. I was grateful when my breathing returned to normal and the sense of death no longer felt imminent. After this, I decided to leave my friend’s house that night and head to a hospital in Rochester, New York, where I was living at the time. It was there that I received two different heart exams and was told my to test my heart and was told my heart was perfectly fine. This didn't bring much relief as I was convinced something was really wrong. I would later find out that these were symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
When depressive thoughts started to creep up on me at that time, I didn’t understand what was going on. These negative thoughts were accompanied by a severe disinterest in life. Depression put an amazingly large cloud over everything I enjoyed from God, to sports, to even having a cup of coffee in the morning. My thoughts and feelings had become my greatest foe, and I was surprised that even people I trusted seemed opposed to me. When I expressed my concerns to a potential girlfriend, she told me quite matter-of-factually that I needed to get over whatever I was feeling and to just “suck it up.” To add insult to injury, a close friend made a comment to the effect of “Man you’re still going through that?” As you could imagine, this was very painful to hear from friends. These were people who I believed to be Christians. I didn't think they understood what I was going through but their words still made me feel as if I didn't belong to God anymore. The most painful blow came from one of my best friends whom, upon hearing of mine and some other Christian’s struggles with depression, suggested that this feeling of depression must be “the great falling away” that Christ spoke of in the new testament. Was this what God thought of me? “Just suck it up Carl! You’re still going through this? You should have overcome this trial a long time ago. You weakling. You pathetic man. You are not my child anymore, in fact, you were never my child. You reprobate!” My thoughts not only taunted me but my friends seemed to do so as well.