Coming Out of the Dark

I was a perfect pastor's wife--until depression hit. I could either hide the truth, or take a risk and tell the entire church.

In this excerpt from Coming Out of the Dark, a pastor's wife who had been active in her husband's ministry describes the onset of her depression--and what her family chose to do about it. Reprinted with permission of Harvest House Publishers.

I was used to being the one who gave help. I was always the one others came to for strength and direction. I was the great encourager--the caregiver. People who knew me well would describe me as someone who was very strong. All of my life, I was driven to excel in everything, and if I couldn't do it perfectly, I didn't do it at all. I was a raging perfectionist with little sympathy for weak people.

Now I, the strong one, couldn't get out of bed. The simplest decision sent me into a panic. The great wisdom-giver could not compile a grocery list. The woman who taught hundreds of women couldn't bring herself to face crowds of any size. The large tasks of life were out of the question, and even the simplest tasks seemed like huge mountains.


Meals, housework, and even shopping were all left undone. If I managed to get out of bed and get dressed by the time my kids got home from school, the day was a success. All I wanted to do was sleep and be left alone. I was paralyzed. I had fallen into a deep, dark, nameless pit. I had no idea how I got there. And even more frightening was the stark reality that I had no idea how to get out.

I decided I was just tired. All I needed was some rest. With that hope in hand, my family and I escaped the hot, humid flatlands of Florida to enjoy three weeks in the cool mountains of North Carolina, my favorite vacation spot. That vacation is a complete blur. I remember very little about our time there. My two responses, when asked any question during those three weeks, were "I don't know" and "I don't care." My children knew something was terribly wrong. They had never seen their mom so quiet, so still, and so sad. Dan listened patiently as I poured out my fear and confusion night after night. There seemed to be no answers, only questions. I could see the growing fear in his eyes that I felt in my own heart. We had never been here before. It was a foreign land. I was in serious trouble, and I needed help.

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Mary Southerland
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