by Jamie Meyer
It’s been a privilege to blog for Fresh Hope for nearly a year now. Although I’ve written a book and have always enjoyed writing, it’s completely different to bare your soul and speak honestly about the challenges you face.
I understand that living with a mental health diagnosis is difficult and many of us feel like we’re traveling this journey alone. I want these blogs to be a place where you find hope and encouragement to live a healthier, more fulfilling life; a place where you feel that someone else “gets it.”
In today’s blog I’d like to share with you my mental health journey that began when I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder in 2007. The depression reared its ugly head at the end of an extremely stressful, difficult year for our family.
Early that year we began the process of building a new house and selling the one we’d lived in for 18 years. To complicate things we had to move twice in three months because the couple who bought our house needed to move in before ours would be finished. Although I was excited when we were finally able to move in, I grieved the loss of our old house where we raised our three children and made so many wonderful family memories.
In February, our daughter became engaged to our youth pastor’s son. Although they were both young and still in college, we supported their decision to marry. Just two weeks after we moved into our new home, with the wedding in Hawaii only six weeks away, our daughter’s fiancé broke off their engagement.
The next few days were a frantic whirlwind of getting her moved home, cancelling reservations we’d made in Hawaii (losing money in the process), and trying to get our daughter re-enrolled in the out-of-state college where she’d previously attended.
If you’re a mother you know we’ll go to any length to take our children’s pain away and keep our families together. I thought I’d done admirably well in making things right for our daughter and surviving the roller coaster year we’d been through. After she returned to college and life had settled down, I took a deep breath and let myself finally relax. Instead of recuperating, I quickly spiraled down into the muck of depression.
With the help of a psychiatrist who started me on medication and a Christian therapist who helped me move past the pain of the previous year, I slowly came back to life. Although God seemed so distant when I was deeply depressed, my sense of His presence gradually returned. He gave me a passion to share my experience through writing a book, “Stepping Out of Depression: Fresh Hope for Women Who Hurt” (available on Amazon).
Following its publication in 2012, a new passion began stirring in my heart to start a support group for people like me who live with mental health challenges. I truly believe God led me to find Fresh Hope as I searched the Internet for a Christian support group. After learning more about Fresh Hope, my husband and I decided to start a group in our church.
I have learned so much since my diagnosis nearly 10 years ago. I no longer depend on therapy and medication alone to stay well. Being in Fresh Hope has taught me how to choose healthy thoughts and behaviors that will improve my mental, physical, and emotional health. The meetings provide a safe place where I’m understood and can learn from the experiences of others.
I hope you, too, will have the opportunity to experience for yourself the many benefits of being in a faith-based support group. The Fresh Hope website, www.freshhope.us, has a list of locations where groups are available. They also offer an online group. And who knows? God may give you the passion and desire to start a Fresh Hope support group in your community.