Back in 2002, I went through what could be called an emotional valley. It took everything within me to get through the day. Each appointment, meeting, task or project seemed like an insurmountable mountain that I had to somehow climb. I was relieved when something was over and I did not experience much joy or pleasure during any of these activities. It was like a cloud had settled in over my heart and mind. Everything was bleak, like someone had closed the window shutters.

In the natural, nothing was going wrong. My family life was good, as was work and church life. There had been no tragedies or disasters in my life at that time. So, I was confused. I was not sure whether this was some sort of spiritual or emotional wilderness or some kind of a mid-life crisis. 

After a time of reflection and with some help from other people I came to realise that I had been suffering from a form of depression, most likely a type of adrenaline exhaustion, due to living my life at a pace that was not sustainable. My emotions were basically shutting down and refusing to continue to live at such a speed. I had to make some adjustments.

I was not able to snap out of this season. A quick prayer did not fix it.  It took some time and some adjustments, along with assistance and support from other people, till eventually, I came up out of that valley. The clouds cleared and the shades came up. Life returned to normal again.

For many years after this experience, I was able to avoid this valley … though there were a couple of times where I came very near the edge. [More recently, I've dealt with a cousin of depression called 'burnout', but that's a topic for another day] Thankfully, over time, I learned to read my emotions a lot better. As a result, I was able to make adjustments to at least reduce the possibility of going back there again.

What about you? Have you ever been depressed? Maybe you have but you did not recognise it as depression. We have all experienced times of at least mild depression at some time in our life, and more likely than not, quite frequently. Your favourite sports team loses, you fail a test, a friend moves away, or you have a difficult day. However, this type of mild depression usually passes within a few days or even hours. However, sometimes depression can settle in for weeks, months and even years in certain situations.

Tomorrow: Symptoms and Causes of Depression