Rev. Bryan Ostaszewski
"Ordained Minister, Sr. Chaplain and Certified Counselor, Board Certified Mental Health Life Coach"
Depression Plunged Me into Darkness. God Met Me There
“I couldn’t read Scripture anymore, yet God’s Word still nourished me”
I woke up one morning, like normal, to prepare breakfast for our family. After breakfast, my copastor and husband, Rudy, offered to take our girls to school. I hugged and kissed them goodbye, then headed to the bathroom to finish applying my makeup. But as I put on my mascara, a sudden tidal wave of feelings flooded my body—a cross between dread and nausea—and almost knocked me off my feet.
I called our church secretary to tell her that I was not feeling well and would come in around noon. But then, as though I was having an out-of-body experience, I saw myself hit redial. I mumbled, “I’m not coming in. I am not coming back. I’m going to take a sabbatical or something, maybe a medical leave.” Then I hung up the phone, crawled into bed, and proceeded to have what my grandmother surely would have called a nervous breakdown.
I slept 18 to 20 hours a day for weeks and only awoke out of necessity; even with all that sleep, I still felt exhausted. After a week or so, my husband said, “Baby, I think you need to see a doctor.” So, I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist. At the end of our first visit, she gave me a prescription and a diagnosis: “major depressive episode.” Then she said the dreaded words: “In six weeks, you should begin to notice changes for the better.” Six weeks? Oh God, can I live like this for another six weeks?
When everything fell apart in my life, I had to learn for the first time how to be—with myself and with God. The tools and spiritual practices that I had always leaned on, like corporate worship, fasting, and prayer, were, in that state of mind, totally inaccessible to me. I had always enjoyed studying the Bible and used to do so for hours, but now I simply could not focus. I could not comprehend the words and I felt too exhausted to even try. Being a pastor made it no easier.
Well-meaning people often said things to my family like “Tell her to read the Word.” I longed for the comfort, wisdom, and insight that the Scripture had always offered me, but in that deep darkness, I was not capable of reading it—the words meant nothing to me.
Then, about six weeks into therapy, God spoke to me: I will give you the treasures out of the darkness. That word from God gave me enormous hope. I did not feel any different physically—no chills or feelings of love flowed through me. But that word spoke into the depths of my being and became a lifeline for me. I felt as though God was present with me. I began to feel comfort after weeks of disorientation. When I felt discouraged by the formidable sense of being adrift, it was that word that gave me an anchor through the darkness and despair. God’s word spoken that day was now hidden in my heart.
So, I took God at his word. Nothing changed in any substantial way; I remained lethargic and physically and mentally depleted for months on end—but now I had an assignment. I was lucid enough to know that if there was treasure to be found, then I would need to live to mine it, to claim it as my own.
As I slowly began to gain more energy, I decided to visit other churches and attend small retreats where I could simply be present without having the responsibilities of a leader. I went with no expectations—I just knew I wanted to be where the Scriptures were being read and meditated on. Those moments became part of my recovery. They gave my heart a quiet place to rest.
I took baby steps and gradually became stronger. Within a year, I was able to read again. I started slowly by resuming my daily devotional. My long time away from the Word made returning to it sweeter than ever. Now, in addition to medication and therapy, I could count on the presence of God’s Word as a true friend and guide.
"Professional Listing Of Our Services Helping Our Community"
"Pastoral Counseling, Coaching & Trauma Relief Services"
1. "Turn Your Life Around"
By: Dr. Tim Clinton
2. "The God Shaped Brain"
By: Timothy R. Jennings, MD
3. "Crazy Love"
By: Francis Chan
4. "I'm OK, Your "OK"
By: Thomas A. Harris, MD
5. "Born To Win"
By: Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward
6. "You'll Get through This"
By: Max Lucado
7. "Cents & Sensibility"
By: Bethany and Scott Palmer
8. "The Freedom To Let Go"
By: June Hunt
9. "Moving Forward"
By: Everett Worthington Jr.
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