What is wrong with me? I’m 40 years old. I’ve lived long enough to figure out this thing called life. I’ve overcome so much from the past. I love the Lord and long to please Him. I have an amazing family. I am a part of an incredible ministry. I aim to be authentic and truthful. I desire to be a good wife. I aspire to be a better speaker and writer. Why do I feel this way if I’m totally trusting God with my life? My husband wouldn’t understand my inner feelings. Friends would never depend on me if they knew my insecurity. No one would read my devotions or invite me to speak if they knew the real me. Who can I talk to? No one. What is wrong with me? Help me Lord; I need help now.
One year ago those words spilled forth from a secret, honest place deep within my heart. Not an isolated season, they characterized many difficult phases of my life hidden from others. On the outside I appeared a happy woman, who has it all together. If you looked a little closer, past the mask, you might have seen the emotional turmoil brewing beneath the surface. I was good at wearing masks; telling others one story on the outside and covering up a completely different story on the inside.
My name is Melissa Taylor, and I suffer from anxiety and depression. There, I said it. What a relief to acknowledge and handle it appropriately rather than attempting to fix it alone.
Out of shame, I hid these emotions. Embarrassment hounded me. How could I struggle with this? After all, I was a strong Christian woman, teaching Bible classes, having a quiet time, and praying. Yet I couldn’t overcome the anxiety and depression. I knew I needed help, but was too prideful to ask for it. Well-meaning friends encouraged me with, “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27, NIV). A strong Christian wife, mom, friend, speaker, writer and Bible teacher should not need help with her emotional state. She should be able to pray the problems away - shouldn’t she? Guilt lied to me, “Yes!”
So I prayed eagerly, seeking God to take away the panic and anxiety. Yet it continued to attack. For four years, feelings of unworthiness, helplessness and anxiety motivated me to quit speaking and writing with Proverbs 31, at least 10 times. At home, nervousness, tears that came far too easily, and thin patience revealed the anxiety within. As a result, we suffered as a family, and I wondered again, “What is wrong with me?”
I really needed help. James 1:5 promises, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (NIV). On the brink of a nervous breakdown, I cried out for God’s wisdom to lead me to help. He directed me to my doctor and counselor, and gave them wisdom to prescribe medication. Initially I strongly objected and tried other avenues like dietary changes, relaxation techniques, exercise, journaling, and other means. I made changes, but none of them took away the anxiety or depression.
Eventually, I relented and tried medication. What a difficult decision. I felt like a failure as a woman and Christian, but have since learned that is a lie. Medication changed my life, giving me the ability to unmask my emotions. I realize the church falls on different sides of this issue. Some adamantly disagree with relying on external aids, while others see value in coupling tools to administer healing.
I have a good friend who has dealt with depression most of her life. Her biggest critics? Christians. She wishes she could say to people, “Don’t judge my faith based on my depression. Judge it on my faith in God who helps me through His Word, His presence, His people and even science. The meds don’t matter or have anything to do with my faith. Not letting depression rule me is what counts.”
Another friend spoke of her depression, “Pressure to maintain the ‘Christian’ image was suffocating me. The scar I carry from this year of wilderness wandering is deep, but God has healed me. The darkness still calls and the battle is strong, but victory is in Jesus.” I couldn’t agree more. Victory is in Jesus, and I give Him all the glory and thanks for leading me to people who could help.
Treatment of my depression and anxiety is like a team sport. My “Head Coach” is the Lord. My “assistant coaches” are my husband, doctors, counselors and a few friends. The Star Player is me. I play by the rules set by my Head Coach, but I also take instructions from the assistant coaches and it’s up to me to carry out the proper instruction.
Today I stand here as a woman who praises the Lord for hearing her cry for help and leading her to greener pastures. I have taken to heart what Isaiah 43:1-4a says and personalized it:
“But now, this is what the Lord says - he who created you, Melissa, he who formed you, Melissa: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior … since you are precious and honored in my sight and because I love you …’” (NIV)
Yes, He loves me and I belong to Him. I’m not afraid or ashamed anymore. My name is Melissa Taylor, and I am a beloved, free and beautiful child of God. There, I said it! And I meant it too.