“I had no hope for myself; I could barely get through the day and perform my tasks as a mother of four small children. I was overwhelmed with thoughts of severe hopelessness and despair – it was like a heavy blanket that came over me.”
Carol Pembleton, now 70 years old, speaks about her battle with and journey out of recurring depression. She experienced many difficult situations throughout her life and it seemed like it was impossible to change or resolve any of them. Looking back, she sees how these situations put pressure on her mind and body.
“I felt worthless and hopeless and thought to myself, ‘Why try?’ It looked so dark; I knew I needed help.”
At one point, when life was very stressful, Carol sought medical help, as she knew she needed some sort of aid. She knew her body is a temple of God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and she wanted to take care of the body that God had given her. She was open for whatever way the help came. Her doctor put her on medication that they hoped would help, but because of some terrible side effects, they couldn’t continue with the prescription.
Her emotional state would go up and down, depending on the gravity of the circumstances around her. And this went on for years.
When she was in her late 50’s, God led Carol to two Christians who showed an interest in and care for her.
“When the despair and hopelessness returned worse than ever, I opened up to them about my need, and immediately the depression lifted. It felt like a weight had been lifted from my body, and I felt free! They gave me various Scripture verses to hold onto. They had hope for me, though I had no hope for myself. “
Joel 3:10 was a constant help for her: “… let the weak say, ‘I am strong!’”
The fact that these friends had hope for her gave her assurance. “Whenever the depression returned, I would go back to visit, and they would share verses from the Bible. We would often pray together, and my heaviness would be lifted again without much work on my part.” Carol was amazed at the fact that this allowed her to perform her daily tasks and her job as a nurse.
Through the help that she got from these visits, she recognized her need to also fight for herself. Carol admits that the love and hope that this couple had for her enabled her to believe it was possible to come out of depression entirely, that it didn’t have to plague her for the rest of her life.
“I got hope for myself by reading in the Bible and believing it.”
Learning to fight back
“Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Carol began to understand that she needed to resist the hopeless thoughts that accompanied her depression. She could fight back! She believed God’s word and believed that God would give her strength, even though she did not feel strong! She began to “take captive”—consciously resist—thoughts of despair.
Carol smiles warmly as she expresses how different her life is today. “There is no comparison between my life today and how it used to be. My emotions may go up or down depending on the situation I am in but they don’t control me.” She is now building on a solid foundation—she has chosen to hold onto God’s Word as her lifeline.
Comparing herself with the story about Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15), who was healed after Jesus touched her and then rose up and began serving. Carol says, “This is why we are healed—to rise up and serve even as we have been served.”
Taking advantage of the help that is available
Carol is a radiant example of someone who refused to let herself drown in the hopelessness of depression, but instead pressed in to God and found a way out of that darkness. She received help for her life and loves to share with others the help that is available. She explains it in this way: “Just as it would be foolish not to grab a life preserver that someone threw you when you were drowning, it is also foolish not to take advantage of the help we can get from the Bible. It takes acknowledgement to say I need help.” She not only grabbed hold of the life preserver, but learned how to swim as well!
“I am very thankful for God’s help in my life and the stability it has brought me. There IS hope for me.”