Depression. Some people think its no big deal and then others call it the cancer of the mind.
When I was growing up I used to be one of those people that thought people should just be able to power through. Trust God and be happy.
Until last year. July 2013.
Each morning I would wake up with this weight. A thick dark cloud that followed me from my first waking breaths until I laid my head on my pillow at night. All day, I was alone. In a small apartment. My mind would spiral out of control.
There were tears.
There was anger.
There was confusion.
I couldn't understand why I continued to fail day after day and nothing was changing. I would pray and cry out to God only to find myself in a worse state of mind the next day. I was in a complete and utter state of hell in my mind. And when you get to a place like this... you start thinking some crazy, horrid things...
Fast forward, July 2014.
I was sitting on a twin bed, in a VERY HOT, third floor dorm room with about 10 high school girls. I had just asked them to answer 10 questions on a piece of paper. The last question I asked, was if they had any questions for me.
We went around the room, one at a time, sharing answers and talking. Then it was time to go around the room asking me questions. Some girls didn't have any. Some had funny, random ones. And a select few had some more serious questions, all pretty much pertaining to the same thing.
Aly, have you ever hit rock bottom? And if so... what were the steps you took to get out of it?
I sat there stunned for a moment. Earlier that day, as I was preparing for devotions with them for that evening, I was flipping through my notebook and I found an entry from July 14, 2013... It went something like this:
"Life is so hard right now. I am scared. I am so unhappy and each day is getting harder and harder to bear. I finally thought I saw a glimmer of hope and its all crashing down around me again... I've never had so many thoughts of death... thinking dying would actually be better than living on this earth. I continue to fail and every time I do - I feel more lost, more alone and more without a reason to be alive. I am more sad than I have ever been in my entire life..."
I looked at this little room of High School girls and blinked back a few tears thinking, "Lord, is this a situation that you want me to share what I have been through? Is this one of the reasons why I was going through what I went through last year."
So I began to answer them. Yes, I have hit rock bottom... It was just last year.
I read a portion of my journal entry. Praying it was the right decision.
I shared with them that just a year ago... I was in a completely different place than I am now. And the ONLY reason why I got out of it... THE ONLY REASON why is because I have a Savior who never gives up on me.
What were the steps I took?
I stopped hiding. As hard as it was... I chose a select few people and told them how miserable I was. I forced myself to act exactly how I felt inside to these people. I told them my deepest and darkest pains and didn't HIDE. They made me realize that I needed professional help.
I sought help. I pursued counseling. I went twice a week because I couldn't even go a whole week without talking to someone about all the thoughts spiraling around in my head. I was officially diagnosed with depression and was put on a low dose of medication to help me "reprogram" my mind. I decided to use it as a tool to help me to battle this "cancer" of the mind. I went through 7 months of counseling and 9 months with the medication until stopping both.
And now... I wake up every morning and I spend time in the God's Word. In Isaiah 44:22 it says, "I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like a mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you."
Hosea 6:3, "So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn and he will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth."
As I draw near to God, I find that I am safe in his arms.
Isaiah 50:4b, "He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple."
As I begin to learn more about his grace and his love and how he pursues me, I have come to truly believe the words that I am reading and believe in his promises in a way that transforms my daily life. And on the days that I can feel my mind giving in to my old ways, I rest on passages like this:
"Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fall and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation, The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like the hinds' feet and makes me walk on my high places." Habakkuk 3:17-19
It doesn't mean life isn't hard. It doesn't mean there won't be trials or hard times again. But there are promises in the Bible, made by a God who created everything. He promises to sustain me and be my guide.
When I was diagnosed with depression... I couldn't even get to a place in my mind that would lead me to spend time in God's Word. I was lost in selfishness and despair. I was crying out like David in Psalm 13, "How long, O Lord will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day?"
At the end of this passage, David cries out that although he had been in despair, that he has trusted in God and is rejoicing in God's salvation.
This was the part that I was missing before. I realized I had not come to the place in my life where I actually, truly, understood the grace of God. The gift that was given to me when Jesus died on the cross for me. He died on the cross to redeem me from my selfishness, my anger, my many mistakes.
How could it be that I had come to my 25th year of life and had not understood the magnitude of this beautiful love story until now. I wished it hadn't taken me so long but am so thankful to finally understand it
I believe that I went through what I went through last year to help me to understand the magnitude of what my Savior did for me. And to use that amazing lesson to share with others.
. . .
There are many articles, blogs, and statements floating around about Robin Williams death. He suffered from severe depression and while some people are romanticizing the situation... Some are calling him selfish.
But the fact of the matter is... He was selfish! We are all SELFISH! We were born not knowing any better than to put ourselves first. And that is why God sent his son to wash us clean.
I don't know where Robin Williams was as far as his beliefs. I don't know if he had a relationship with God. If he was seeking help or if he got to a point where he just began to hide. You never truly know what a person is battling with.
Sometimes as Christians, we think we have to have it all together. We think because we believe in God we have to have a sparkly, clean little life and not have any major issues. Well, I will be first to stand up and raise my hand high... I got me some issues. But I have a God who is so much bigger than those issues and will not give up on me.
Throughout this past year, He extended his hand to me, waited for me to grab a hold and then began showing me and teaching me what a life lived in abundance and joy really means. I am no where near a place of perfection in this area and I never will be, but I am eternally grateful for a God who will walk beside me until my dying day and promises to redeem, restore and love me each step of the way.