“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Her outward appearance belied her forty-something years and her mismatched clothing hung on her like oversized sacks.
I did a double take.
Graying hair glared from underneath the faded out bronze hair dye, giving her hair a strange orange glow that was all too unnatural. Dark circles sat heavily around hopeless eyes while her shoulders drooped with an obvious, yet invisible load.
This wasn’t the woman I knew. This person was unrecognizable to me. She shuffled across the waiting room and sat in the chair closest to my husband. Our exchanged greetings were most uncomfortable as my husband and I struggled through the shock of seeing the drastic changes we observed in this once strong personality.
Something was dreadfully wrong and it didn’t take being a Registered Nurse to recognize the symptoms. Our friend was lost in a dark world of deep depression. Her 12 years old girl sat silently beside her, gaze held low and I wondered just how much her juvenile mind comprehended.
My heart screamed inside my chest “Oh God, please help!”
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40: 1-3
‘Jane’ shifted uneasily in her chair and the nervous twisting of her hands and fingers portrayed her discomfort as she sat under the microscope of our questioning eyes. I was glad the waiting room was almost empty. We could sense her desire to disappear, most likely wishing she hadn’t ran into anyone who knew her. Though we had many, we asked only one question.
“How are you?”
Her eyes glossed over with a layer of tears and her lips twisted as if it took too much effort to speak.
Silence followed for a few seconds but before I could muster up the courage to probe, Jane glanced up at my husband and I and said “Actually, it’s been really hard.”
She had made the decision to trust us and we listened attentively as she opened up her soul to us.
Unhappy and feeling trapped by the shared responsibility of parenting their two children, her husband had stepped out of the marriage. He had become an angry and resentful partner and this became evident in an increasingly verbal and physical abusive behaviour towards her.
The emotional and financial responsibility of taking care of two children on her own was overwhelming and the guilt of a failed marriage weighed heavily on her heart. This proved too much for her fragile mind and coupled with work place bullying, she was no longer able to function productively at her job. She now struggles to make ends meet on her short-term disability income.
She confessed to isolating herself from others, not wanting to talk or expose her pain. There are days when she is unable to get out of bed, not even for a shower or to brush her teeth. Cooking, something she once enjoyed, is now a complex chore as her mind is no longer capable of navigating its way around the kitchen.
She shared having suicidal thoughts. Panic attacks and anxiety keeps her prisoner in her home, too afraid to step out her front door. This doctor’s visit, compulsory in the continuing of her disability benefits, was what made her leave her home on this occasion. It was more for her children than for her.
She is on antidepressants and she has counselling sections in place but it is a difficult journey and she has a long way to go.
My husband and I allowed her to share.
But in the end I wondered, What else can we offer?
Jane’s depression is dark, sinister and scary. She is living in an ocean of pain, void of hope and personal purpose. I am afraid for her and for her children’s future.
I realize I am trekking through unfamiliar territory and I confess I am at loss at how my husband and I can help. Yet, after our encounter with Jane, I refuse to just say goodbye and walk away. The love of God in my heart calls for much more than that.
Dear friends, please help me pray. Pray for Jane and others like her.
I am praying for the day when light will crack through the darkness for her. When hope will filter in and the sounds of living life will not cause her to retreat but will instead, be embraced.
For the moment I will pray, pray and pray some more.
I will call her, engage her, embrace her and love her. I will endeavour to be a gentle reminder that there is hope. I will wait for the day when she will be ready to hear about, maybe even receive the God of love.
Until then, come on dear friends, let us journey together by faith today. God bless you!