(I wrote the following article today for our church newsletter and decided it would work well for Focus Friday with just a few little changes)
Around this time last year, my life began to spin out of control. I was excited to start a new teaching job, but it didn’t take too long to see that something was wrong. I was doing a good job, but I got more and more nervous, focusing on the things that weren’t going well instead of the many things that were. I loved the students, but I worried too much about whether they liked me as a teacher and it crushed me when many of them didn’t like Spanish in spite of my best efforts.
I prayed, I read my Bible, I listened to encouraging songs on the way to school, but those negative thoughts swirled through my mind so much that I couldn’t keep ahead of them. I kept telling myself, “You just need to relax!” but that was easier said than done. I had trouble sleeping, I lost my appetite and felt sick to my stomach, I couldn’t concentrate to make lesson plans and that added to my stress. By the time I went to the doctor for my depression and anxiety, it had gone on too long. Seeing a counselor and taking medication was helpful, but those things take some time to work. One weekend I found that I had no hope left. I didn’t see how I could continue teaching and I didn’t know how I could stop. I was stuck in a very bad place and I wanted out. Thankfully, I talked to Gary about all of this and we decided to go to the hospital. Being admitted gave me time for the medicines to work and to get away from the stress. I felt so much love from our church family and other family members and friends as they all prayed for me and sent wonderful cards and notes. I decided to resign from the teaching position and when I got home I concentrated on getting well again.
When I went to the hospital I felt absolutely no hope. Of course, this added to my guilt because as a Christian I knew that I did have hope in Jesus. I just didn’t feel it. In the months since then, the hope has come back. Life is good again. It’s not perfect. It can’t ever be, but I’m learning to hold on to hope and keep choosing to stay well instead of sliding back down into depression. I am feeling so much better than I did last year.
One of the things that helped was talking with a friend who also deals with depression. She recommended a book by Brad Hoefs called “Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis” and she talked about her desire to start a Fresh Hope support group in Hampton (they did start one - it meets twice a month on Monday nights). As we talked more, I became interested as well. Fresh Hope is a peer to peer Christian support group for those who have a mental health diagnosis and their loved ones.
We’re starting a group here on . It will meet weekly at The Corner on Main Street in Allison, Iowa from There is no need to register ahead of time, you can just come if you have had a mental health diagnosis or if you know and love someone who does. You don’t even have to commit to coming weekly, just come check it out and see if it would be helpful for you.
You can find out more about Fresh Hope at freshhope.us and also find out if there is a group that meets near you. Please email me (robyn mulder at hot mail dot com) if you have any questions or just need to talk. I don’t want anyone to get stuck in that dark, hopeless place. There is hope!
"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:19-23 NIV)
Have you lost your hope? How can focusing on God help you to get hope back and live a fulfilling, exciting (not perfect) life?