Welcome to our ‘Freedom From’ series! Every month we share stories of women who have found freedom from a hurt, habit, or hang up and want to encourage others that the same freedom is theirs for the taking. Today we are chatting about depression with mom, wife, and social work Lauren Matovu.
How the battle with depression started
I found myself struggling with depression from a young age, around 12-13 years old. For me, depression manifested itself in self-worth issues, tying my self-worth to my body looking a certain way or having a boyfriend. As I entered high school this only intensified and I began to injure myself, abuse alcohol, face an eating disorder, and experience severe anxiety. I reached out to a couple of counselors and told them how I was feeling and explained external factors that were going in my life that contributed to my depression. I knew I needed help, but I never got it.
Even though I began a relationship with Jesus at 17, I continued battling depression and these behaviors. I knew Jesus died for my sins, but I still struggled with worthlessness. I was in deep darkness, not wanting to live, making plans to end my life, and unable to function each day.
At one of the darkest points in my early twenties, I went in-patient for treatment for mental health and an eating disorder. I didn’t have a plan to end my life, but I was having suicidal ideations and darkness cloaked my thoughts. After my release I was on medication, seeing a therapist, visiting a psychiatrist, but still feeling relatively the same. I reached the point where I had a plan on how to end my life.
I was driving to carry out my plan, but I needed twenty dollars to do it. I called my roommate to borrow the cash and instead of meeting me, she asked me to come home. As I got to the house, I broke down and ended up telling her that I planned to end my life that day. She encouraged me to reach out to my parents, admit I was still struggling, and ask to go to the hospital again. If my friend had not called me back to our apartment, I believe my life would be over.
How life has changed since finding freedom from depression
Since reaching out for support, my freedom journey has involved a lot of tears, fighting to stay above the darkness, surrendering, and proclaiming truth and freedom over myself even when I can’t necessarily feel it. I don’t have thoughts of suicide anymore, but on my darker days I still have to make a choice — am I going to let this darkness consume me, or am I going to overcome this darkness through the power of Jesus?
Freedom in my life has come from God alone. Grasping tightly to Jesus and allowing Him to carry my sadness and periods of depression has been liberating. I remind myself daily that God knows me, he knows the darkest parts of my heart, and he can handle it. I also have the ability to take my thoughts captive and to engage with those periods of depression in a way that I am challenging them instead of succumbing to the darkness and accepting its power over me.
God has used many different people, therapy, prayer warriors, and medicine at certain times. If you are currently battling depression, I would encourage you to find balance, utilize the resources that are there because God designed them for a purpose.
This has been a 20-year journey, and I’ll tell you that, while I proclaim my freedom proudly, there are many times when I feel myself slipping into a depressive time and have to use the tools God has given me to climb my way out. The enemy wants to keep us in bondage that prevents us from stepping into our God-given purpose. We have a part to play in stepping into the freedom God grants us. We must actively fight for our freedom.
When my depression was severe, every single day I had to make a conscious decision to choose life. I often see my battle with depression like a boxing match. If I allow myself to be punched repeatedly, I’ll end up being defeated so I punch back with positive affirmation, worship, prayer, and friends.
Lauren Matovu is a wife to a very kind (and hot) husband, mom to MANY, and adoption social worker living in the western suburbs of Chicago. Jesus has set her free, and she’s not turning back! You can connect with Lauren on Instagram.