Bill’s Depression and Me, part 2

(If you haven’t read part 1, scroll down and read it first.)

The Tipping Point — The Uphill Journey

Bill, one of the Navigator V.P.s, attended a meeting of the National Leadership Team the first day after New Years. That evening he and I went out to dinner with Bill Thrall, a senior consultant and counselor for The Navs. He listened attentively to our story.

Thrall invited us to spend a weekend with he and his wife in Phoenix when Bill felt he was ready to travel. We flew down in February.

What about me?

I was cautiously optimistic. Perhaps we were on the right path. The medications Bill was taking were helping, but we knew that the solution was more than meds and calendar control. God used Bill Thrall’s discernment to take us to the next step.

The Counseling Suggestion

Thrall suggested we attend a counseling intensive. He knew a counselor in Denver who he thought could help us. My Bill was eager for anything that would help, not wanting to live through the dark days of the past months again.

What about me?

I was distracted and scared. I too had issues. Was I going to come into the light and stop trying to protect myself?

Those issues had come to a head two years previous and I was living in a dark place of my own, my spiritual growth stymied. Bill suggested counseling for me back then. NO! Was I that bad off that I needed professional help? My wise husband didn’t bring it up again.

But this suggestion of counseling was different. I was joining my husband and we were going to counseling for his problem — not mine. This gave me the courage to move forward. We were walking together into our future.

The Counseling Intensive

A few weeks later we temporarily moved to Denver not knowing how long we would be there. Milt, our counselor assured us that he would know and we would know when the time was right. And we did. We were there for two weeks.

Milt quickly earned our trust. My counselor defensiveness evaporated. We met with him each morning and then had a bit of homework for the afternoon or evening.

The light was beginning to dawn as our understanding of Bill’s depression was becoming clear.

In addition, I was getting help with my issues and we were getting help with our marriage. A three for one!

What about me?

I was healing too.  I was just as needy as Bill although I manifested it differently.

My appreciation of counselors radically changed. They are a gift to the body. And we had the privilege of benefiting from their contribution.

The Cure

During those two weeks we both caught glimpses of the gospel that had previously eluded us primarily relating to our identities as the beloved children of God. Our significance rests in who we are, not what we do.

Those glimpses caught fire in our hearts as we continued to meditate on the incredible truth of our identities.

What about me?

I discovered God’s love for myself!

I started journaling scriptures that spoke of God’s love for me. My special leather journal became the foundation for my times with God. Reviewing the truth of God’s love was life-changing for me then and continues to be so.

For the next few years I limited my reading to authors who helped me flesh out God’s love. Henri JJ Nouwen and Brennan Manning were two of those.


The Continuing Journey

Like anyone who lives with Clinical Depression, Bill still has down days once in a while. Our doctor sometimes needs to adjust his medications. But more than a medical journey, this has been a spiritual journey for us.

What about me?

I am so thankful for our new and deeper understanding of the gospel and God’s love.
I continue to review those truths recorded in my leather journal.
God is using this journey in ways I could have never imagined.
I am so thankful for counselors and our two weeks with Milt.

Some final thoughts

I don’t like it when Bill has another experience of depression. But I recognize the symptoms, I accept this is part of our journey, and I continue to grow in praying for him and loving him well in the midst.

What about me?

When Bill is down, I know I can protect him, but I can’t fix him. I stand at the fringe silently.
There are no silver bullets. Every person’s dark experiences are unique.
My presence is needed, but not my words. Words of admonition or pep talks just reveal I don’t understand.

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us!
Just look at it — we’re called children of God!
That’s who we really are.”
I John 3:1, The Message

Reminder: A free gift is coming via snail-mail to all who comment. Perhaps you’d like to share a prayer request; I’d be honored to walk with you. If you’d like to comment privately,


32 thoughts on “Bill’s Depression and Me, part 2

  1. Cheryl Baertschi says:

    Wow! I just read both parts of this and it was so helpful. I’m going to ask Steve to read as I have never really looked at how it is for him to deal with my depression/anxiety issues! Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability!

  2. Rebecca Price says:

    Wow! Thanks again for being so vulnerable. I found it encouraging that you were need too, just in a different way. I think we all are! I agree that counselors are indeed a gift to the body. Thank you for the reminder that I am significant because of who I am rather than what I do. Some days all I do is screw up! So grateful for God’s grace on those days! I love that you started journaling scriptures that spoke of God’s love. In my opinion the assurance of God’s love can get us through some tough days. Thank you for pointing out that yours was not only a medical journey but a spiritual one as well. I think often they are closely tied! You reminded us of a great truth. You can protect your husband but you can’t fix him. God’s job although we are so ready to “help” him with that. I loved your statement “my presence is needed but not my words”. Powerful! Thank you for sharing that words of admonition or pep talks just reveal I don’t understand. I have had numerous people pep talk me. It makes me feel more alone because, like you said, it makes you feel more misunderstood. I get that you just want your loved one or friend to feel better but….. So appreciate your gift with words. Thank you!

    • says:

      Becky, thank you for your encouragement.

      Perhaps through these posts more than any other, I’m learning what a blessing vulnerability … even more than transparency is to the body. I need your words as much as you need mine!

  3. Susan Holst says:

    Thanks for sharing. I have down moments occasionally but am able to work through them by stepping back and trying to figure out what caused the problem to begin with.

    • says:

      Good plan Susan for those down moments. Me too.

      We all have “down moments” every so often, but not all suffer from depression. Possibly the encouraging words of a friend lifts the veil of down moments, but not the darkness of depression.

  4. Denise Grace says:

    Thank you Sue. I love that you say counselors are a gift to the body. That was not what I heard in my youth. And it frees me to pursue their help.

    • says:

      Yup, not what I heard either! Hence my severe apprehension. Now I am quick to call my Biblical Counselor friends when I need them … and I know when I need them.

  5. Rosie Williams says:

    Love “I can’t fix him…I stand at the fringe silently.”.
    I am learning this with my Nam vet hub of 47 years. I have been going to counseling myself for several months-best decision I’ve made in terms of taking care of myself. I so appreciate your honest sharing. Enjoyed meeting you Sue briefly at Hope Writers!

    • says:

      Rosie, so GREAT to hear from you. I too enjoyed meeting you.

      Post traumatic stress syndrome is huge with the trauma of the ones who served protecting our country. May God help you to love your husband well and receive your love from God … as Jesus did, John 17:23.

  6. Julia Bradley says:

    Thanks, Sue, for being open and honest. Appreciate you so much. Only wish we were closer so we could spend more time in person! Love you!!

  7. Linda Bonorden says:

    So neat to read perspective of the person who is collaterally damaged. My Bill is not a professing believer but God tenderly cared for me through him, anyway, during the years when depression drained the life out of me. Glad to say I am have been for several years more healthy than in my entire life … which Bill has been enjoying, also. 🙂 Thanks, dear one.

    • says:

      You’re welcome my friend! What a special gift your Bill is to you.

      And I’m looking forward to lunch next week.

  8. Ruth Fobes says:

    Really appreciate your vulnerability and for sharing your story and Bill’s too. I especially feel blessed by the scriptures you shared throughout your story. It’s encouraging to see growth through the difficult times. You are an example of that and also an encouragement to many others.

    • says:

      That is my prayer Ruth, that my words would be an encouragement to many.

      Thank you for your encouragement to me.

  9. Jean says:

    Thanks for being so transparent, Sue. I love knowing that your story will have far reaching effects on others who are walking a similar journey. We all need to extend our hands out to one another and up to God!

  10. Pat Whitehouse says:

    I am presently doing a study called Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler published by LifeWay. I am doing it by myself since I don’t have the opportunity to do it with someone at present. It is suited for me as I have mentioned I have experienced similar illnesses with family members. I am absorbing God’s love through the scriptures.

    • says:

      “Absorbing God’s Love” what a wonderful way to communicate that. And that I believe is the key to all of life, absorbing His love for us.

      Thank you for sharing your words.

  11. Jo Smith says:

    Thank you, Sue, for sharing your journey with us! I still wonder about the length of time it took for all that you shared, such as: when the medication became helpful, how long until you both went to the counseling intensive, and how long before Bill seemed healthy again? I realize these may be hard to calculate, or you may opt not to share them. That’s ok. So glad some of your needs were met during this time by friends or co-workers, and that you were able to go through counseling together!
    It’s been a tough week for me, and in the past I would have come to quite a low point. Realizing God’s great love for me, I have been able to lay it in His hands and trust Him with the disappointments. You must have done that in a huge way every day to keep your own head above water during Bill’s depression!

    • says:

      Good questions, Jo.

      As far as the time line.

      Bill was diagnosed in the fall of ’99 and began meds at that point. It took several months
      for us to figure out which meds and which dosages were best. And that has continued to
      be a journey. Although he was off meds for a few years, he is again taking them and we
      anticipate that this will always be the case. Depression runs in his family.

      Bill was officially on sick leave (not a sabbatical) from The Navs for about a year (perhaps
      a bit less). He was healthy enough to return to work in early fall 2000.

      We went to the counseling intensive in February 2000.

      I’m so glad you have experienced the reality of God’s love in the midst of your hard week. Let’s talk soon.

  12. Jennnifer Beckham says:

    The faithfulness of God, to bring you two through these difficult times and a deeper growth in your spiritual lives and more understanding that God is there! It is beautiful to hear of the healing power of Christ in both of your lives and to interweave your lives into a beautiful tapestry to be seen by others. May you continue to find delight in the Lord and in each other and may you minister to those who need that special touch from the Lord. Amen!

  13. Karen Getz says:

    Thank you Sue for sharing from your perspective. I have heard Bill share and this gives additional insight and wisdom. Appreciate your vulnerability.

  14. Marilyn Gnekow says:

    Thanks for your vulnerability, Sue. We are all so much in process. What Hope the Gospel gives and how amazing that the Father pours out His love on us even though He sees our messiness.
    Our deep brokenness…His deeper commitment to redeem! Thanks be to God.

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