Updated: Aug 30, 2019
I'll just be honest with you—
this is incredibly difficult for me to post.
For someone who blogs to encourage others, advocates for mental health, and often invites readers to join me in my journey as a young author, it is a little intimidating to reveal a part of myself that may not be as glamorous.
I recently shared in a video that I had been recovering and healing, but I was careful not to mention exactly what I was recovering from. I had gotten so used to making sure my struggle stayed private, as I spent the last two years convincing myself to keep my emotions inside. Especially as a new author, I told myself that it was better to wait a while before I let anyone know what I had been dealing with. It wasn't the greatest advice, but at least I know that the time is now.
Before I share with you my story, I'll start with the good news. I'm much, much better. You heard me say it in the video, but I'll write it to you too. I'm stronger. I have more faith. I'm not afraid to mess up anymore. Yet, it took two years worth of absolute chaos and confusion to get to where I am today. It took rock bottom to feel as good as I do now. And while I am still in the early stages of learning how to live my life to the fullest, I'm healthy enough to share the details of my path of peace.
We'll start in September 2016.
It was 3 AM, and I was absolutely aggravated by my lack of sleep. I had turned every which way at that point. I tried sleeping with the light on, then decided it'd be better if it was off. I felt I read every book that night, trying to lull myself to sleep. But, despite my efforts, something...happened.
It was something that was bigger than me, something that was unlike me. And because I was already exhausted, I just let it happen. I woke up feeling as if it didn't happen, however, or perhaps I only convinced myself that it didn't happen. Regardless, I remember spending the day as I usually would. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred, and I finished out the rest of the week just fine. I wasn't really alarmed until it happened again the week after, this moment of panic I had in the middle of the night that even today I can't explain. But, it was the same story. I woke up feeling somewhat gross, but nothing to convince me of anything imminent.
Until I finished out the rest of that month.
I simply wasn't myself anymore. I started to see myself differently. I began to question everything—everything that I had ever believed, everything that I never let myself believe. Everything. I didn't know what to call it at first, even though I knew what it was. I considered the word to be ungodly, nothing a follower of Christ should be caught struggling with. Yet, it was in the month of November 2016 when I first brought it to God's attention, giving this "thing" a name. And, it's a horrible name. I was struggling with depression.
Life quickly became very dark, incredibly lonely, and excruciatingly painful. I spent most of 2017 looking for an innocent way to cry out for help. I had felt disconnected from everything I once knew—disconnected from all of my relationships, my faith, my dream of becoming an author. So, when my dream came true, being honest, I wasn't too sure how to celebrate. What I had previously thought was just a bad, September 2016 night was turning into my everyday life. Every day, I was threatened by depression's intention to ruin me. It tormented me whenever I wanted to do something as small as form a thought. It teased me whenever I would try to catch up on sleep at night. It was this monster that I couldn't fight, an enemy that I didn't want to fight, and while I have always been known as too stubborn to ever give up, I realized that moment-by-moment, day-by-day, it was much simpler to just give in.
So, I did. I gave into the lies, the nonsense, the loneliness—which was the feeling that hurt me the most. I had always preferred to be alone—in my bed, in PJ's, aimlessly scrolling through my phone, Shrek 2 on screen in front of me, music playing, as typical as it gets. But it was when I started to believe that others preferred it that way too, that I would stay out of their way and remain in my corner, that I was too annoying, too pushy, too obnoxious for people to bare, was when I couldn't even enjoy myself anymore. Because I believed it. Because maybe they were right. And that's probably why they didn't text back. And that's why I wasn't invited. And did you see the way they looked at me? And I don't think he likes me anymore. And why do I have to look this way? And why is my hair like this? And I want everyone to leave me alone. And I just want to sleep all day. But I can't forget I have to work at four. And my assignment is due by midnight. And I don't want to write anymore. Because I'm not even that good anyway.
And on, and on, and on it went for the last two years of my life.
These were the thoughts that ran through my head constantly, whether I was trying to go to sleep or focus in class. These loud voices would torment me even when I was with the people I loved the most, those voices becoming an octave higher when I would talk to strangers. Can you imagine thinking yourself into a downward spiral giving advice to strangers who reached out to you? I was depressed out of my mind telling other people tips on how to establish their peace. And it was good advice, and they followed it, and I watched them thrive. Therefore, the more people that reached out to me, the more I stayed to myself. What would it look like, if the author of "How I Fell in Love with Myself," told people that she didn't really love herself at all? Stories like those don't sell well, and I was practicing to become an entrepreneur.
Even as a follower of Christ, I stopped praying about it. The first few nights I fell into temptation, I brought it almost immediately to the Lord's feet. However, realizing that I was months deep into crying myself to sleep every night, panicking all throughout the day, only to stop and listen and pray for someone who told me they needed it, I came to some sort of conclusion that God had simply stopped listening. After all, it wasn't His fault. I was the one who fell. I was the one who kept making a mess. I was the one who let my bible collect dust on my bookshelf. I just could not bring my grime and my dirt to a God who I knew as holy in every way imaginable. And while you would think a depression this threatening, this dangerous would scare me into thinking that God isn't good, that wasn't the issue.
I knew God was good. I have seen too much in my life to ever deny it. So, I never questioned if God was good. Instead, I was questioning if I was good. My entire 2017 was a war against my identity. And, when you don't know who you are, you either look for it in other people or make something up. If you could imagine as a creative writing minor, it was easy for me to make it up. And when you tell another follower of Christ that you don't know who you are, anyone who went to bible school would tell you, "Oh, you're a child of God!" or "You're the daughter of the Most High King!" That was what they told me, and they were absolutely, totally correct. But, that wasn't the issue either.
When I would ask "Who am I?," it wasn't necessarily a question regarding my position in God's family. Instead, it was a ponder as simple as "Am I a funny person? Or do I just feel the need to entertain everyone I meet?" or "Am I a quiet person? Because I honestly have not been saying much." or "Am I naturally shy or do I just feel intimidated by someone who I consider 'better' than me?" or "God, am I really a likable person? Because I don't feel that much appreciated at all."
I couldn't answer any of those questions, and I already made it up in my mind that God had left me alone to figure it out for myself. So, with every new person I met, I would wonder, what are they thinking of me? And every conversation I had with people who I cherished deeply, I would wonder, are they losing interest in me or am I not someone they prefer anymore? Because I didn't know and had thought my way out of talking to God about it, I became easily intimidated. I would hyperventilate, punish myself. I would fantasize about going through anything else besides this. I lost my sight of joy in everything. I prayed that someone would notice me struggling. But, I never said a word, not even to Christ. And inevitably, I broke down.
I will never forget that moment of feeling utterly consumed—that moment of "This is it. I reached my limit. I've finally seen the bottom." A moment of being in the peak of my desperation and restlessness, wanting nothing more than to be at peace. I will never forget how careless I let myself be this night in 2018. It would be the the last time out of two years that I wouldn't care about what would happen to me. I had an urgent feeling of wanting the pain to go away with no control over my physical body. I was shaking with certainty. I spent most of 2018 confused, but I will never forget how sure I was in that moment. But, little, and I mean very little, did I know that I was about to be exposed to a whole new side of an understanding, compassionate, personable Jesus that over time, I had convinced myself didn't exist.
I had forgotten that God loves people like me in that moment. Too depressed to bare another day, slightly hostile towards Him and others, especially towards myself. Desperate and hurt, broken beyond repair. Anxious in conflicts that had been resolved years ago. Striving passionately to be perfect, doing my best not to make anyone upset. Betrayed, and therefore, isolated. Feeling like I lost the right to be included. Unsure of what I wanted for myself. Unsure if I was even wanted. Frustrated and mean, using words to belittle the people that I felt had belittled me. At the very end of myself. Not willing to give up, but giving myself permission to give in. I forgot that God didn't just love me during my good moments, but especially, in moments like those.
He, on the other hand, didn't care that I forgot, didn't care that I had a lot of unforgiveness towards Him. God was there with me, in that moment, with angels at every angle. He put strict orders on all of heaven to watch out for me, even went as far as giving the moon a command to give me all the light I needed when I left. I was at the climax of my war with depression that night, but for a reason, a special purpose I am in position now to find out, God fought the battle for me. My spirit was crouched down and weary. I could not look up once that night. And perhaps that's why I couldn't see the miracle of it all. Heaven was on my side. Christ was closer to me than the skin on my bones. He never, ever left. And my Heavenly Father, in all of His power and might, brought together my two years of pain and erased it in one night. Heaven's angels covered me with their wings at His command, shielded me from my very own attempt, and kept me for days like today. Days where I can fully step into my calling.
I wish writing about it would do Christ's victory for me justice, but no written word can explain the war I won last year. Perhaps I'll never be able to tell the full extent of why my trophy is so significant. I was in deep trouble. My depression was so intense, my physical health began to deteriorate. I punished myself every day for the past two years. I lived in dishonesty towards God, myself, and others. I was so far from my physical state of being it took me hours to form at least one single thought, a process that drove me crazy in long, sleepless nights. My heart was broken in every way, and I was disconnected from the thing that has meant and always will mean the most to me—my faith. I still wish I could explain the two-year burden I was carrying better. But, this is why I celebrate Jesus. Two years of thinking He wants nothing to do with my mess—and it was a very dirty, ungodly mess, a type of mess you would never think a perfect and holy God would want to clean up—only to find out that He loves my type. He loves when I can't clean it up. It gives Him the chance to step in, and He can show me the heart of a true Father, a true Savior, the one who doesn't mind when the little strength I have left is only enough to depend on Him.
And, this is where I'm at today.
I am humble enough to admit that I can't do it on my own. I cannot, so I will not, and I don't even want to. I want the fullness of God's grace, the entire portion of His goodness. I want His love to be my best. I want to offer the Lord all of my dependence. He has been so, so good to me. And in all of the moments I have had in 2019 so far, delivered from my depression and totally aware of God's presence, I have learned that even while delivered, I can still depend on His saving grace. On the days where I get shaky, when I feel like going back to my unhealthy coping mechanisms, I call on God in those moments. I can let Him see me when I'm at my weakest, at my lowest, when I feel like I'm about to panic. Thank You, Jesus, that I was never meant to go through this on my own. I'm delivered, and because of Christ, I won the war. But, you know what? Things will still happen. Stuff will still come up. The day-to-day troubles that trip me up aren't necessarily going anywhere. But, thank God I have a place of refuge. Thank You, Lord, that even when I do fall, You work it out for my benefit. I'm in a place of sweet praise and glorious victory, a moment where I'm starting to see the Lord clear as day. And, so I will continue to write about it. Talk about it. Be about it. This won't be the year where I suddenly become perfect, but this is the year where I'm sticking closest to my purpose. I know I'm going to fall. I know I'm going to mess up. But now, I am grateful to know that I'm going to win.