The popcorn ceiling had a yellow stain the shape of Texas. I was lying on my back in the hot bath tracing its outline with the fingers in my mind. My red skin numbed in the scalding heat and all sounds turned to white noise under the waterline. I floated there—my hair a brown halo around me—while the black hole in my chest eroded its way through the core of the earth behind—all the way to China.
It was my third summer living with depression.
Depression was a dark shadow that hung a constant shade between the sun and me. Its favorite place to brood was alone in the bathroom—and so, I often joined it there letting it birth new doubts and fears in the corners of my heart.
It drew strict lines between me and all others—but none as firm as the boundary it set with my husband. Day by day depression would lay down red tape dictating what side of the bed we each slept on. Its goal was to allure me away from all possible contact with love—to cast strings of doubt on the carrots of hope in my life and pull them away with each attempt to grasp at them.
That day—as I floated in my bathtub aware of its presence—I shut my eyes to block the image of the razor at my side and I cried out to someone else
Lord Jesus—I need you. Get me out of this. I can not survive this without you.
At the same time my husband was somewhere—most likely in the car headed back to what felt like an empty, decaying home—and he spoke
God, please help my wife. Please, God. We can not do this without you.
In the winter, God spoke back.
At four o’clock in the morning over a steaming cup of hot tea He whispered
Read 1 Samuel.
I opened my crisp Bible and read the story of Hannah and her prayer for Samuel. The Lord had closed her womb, but—when she asked—He provided a son. I was confused. Why did God ask me to read this? I wasn’t pregnant. I wasn’t ready to have a child—depression wouldn’t allow it. There was too much touching involved and I was already overwhelmed with claustrophobia as it was.
A few days later the doctor pulled her white coat tighter around her waist as she told me the news. It was an ectopic pregnancy and I needed immediate emergency surgery to remove it.
The room spun and the shadow that draped over the sun fell down over my head and suffocated me. I couldn’t breathe. My husband assisted me to the hospital and as we sat in a lobby filled with aching, groaning others and sickening smells of fried chicken I remembered Hannah.
I am your Rescuer. Get ready. Here I come.
I tapped my fingers against my hip bone and struggled trying to breathe under the weight of all that covered me.
As I lay on a metal table hooked up to tubes and wires, the surgeon reviewed the procedure that was about to happen with a look of concern disturbing on the face of a doctor.
Depression hovered over me as I went under. And then, suddenly, it was gone.
I woke up in my bed at home with stacks of pill bottles at my bedside and my husband beside me. The sun streamed through the cracks in the blinds and for the first time in years I saw the room around me in color.
My love. I said. —I don’t feel it anymore.
What do you not feel?
The shadow is gone. For the first time in so long. It’s just gone.
Less than a year later I waited on a bench in our yard holding a brown box tied with a green bow. I was eagerly waiting for my husband to come home—he was driving home to a house new with hope and plenty of light and laughter. When the car pulled in I remained seated.
Is that what I think it is? He said cautiously.
What do you think it is? I smiled.
I watched him open the box and take a moment to stare at the three pregnancy tests—evidence that our son was on his way. My husband collapsed at my feet in our yard, in front of neighbors and passersby. He was overcome by the joy and promises of our Lord and I held him there—laughing in the warm August light.
You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.