Posted in anxiety, apathy, healing, pain, shame, suffering

New Depression

I thought I would begin posting on my “new” blog (even though I started this depression blog four years ago.) I haven’t shared much about my personal life since I got married one year ago whether it be on social media or in person. Who knows if what I say will help anyone but I hope it does. I feel compelled to share so I am going with it.

I have been going through another “Valley of Baca,” a pretty intense season of depression. Depression used to give my life meaning. I used to live for both having the problem itself and for healing from my depression. And I used to feel closer than ever to God when I was suffering. The last year and half but particularly the last several months, I have felt a new kind of depression. I have felt further from God than ever and alone in my blackness. Few of my old coping mechanisms seem to get me out of my funk and the worst is I don’t care. Apathy is a new kind of pain I have rarely experienced.

I know I am not alone and I want others to know they are not alone so that’s why I am opening up.

The reason why it’s so hard to talk about is because I know my life is good. I have a great home, a good job and a wonderful husband. Not to mention family and friends who love  and support me. But as my counselor said, depression can strike anyone and I am sick and tired of blaming myself. Which is what spurs my depression on in the first place.

I am not discounting any positive thing in my life. But I also want to be real. A real approachable person that can maybe reach someone like me. I wish I could get excited about this life life I used to. But instead of being propelled by my suffering, I am hiding more than ever.

I guess I’ve had my share of shameful moments. But why I’m so ashamed now is different than all the other times. I can be different. I know what to do. I have all the tricks in the bag (Bible reading, prayer, devotions, positive thinking, yoga, mindfulness, eating health, exercising, taking supplements and on and on). I know the right things to do and the wrong things not to do. I could change. I don’t have any reason to be doing the wrong things. Except maybe I want to forget about why I no longer feel or experience life how I once did. I just choose to continue to hide. I like to feel vulnerable. I like to be the one who can hurt my body or mind. For some reason. I like the control I have.

I don’t want to leave this entry on a negative note. I know I am in a season and I am trying to learn from the season I’m in. Like every other time, I will get through and come out stronger because of it. Instead of fighting it. And I have been doing a few good things such as reaching out to those who love me and writing. For the sake of those who love me, I want to get better. And I know you will too. The world needs to hear my voice and it needs to hear your voice.

I decided I am done hiding and thanks to some inspiration from this wonderful woman, I want to tell my story. Like her, I want it to read like a book (I already have a lot of written for a memoir I have been working on). So start here, then click forward on the bottom left arrow to read it in order. I hope you decide to follow me on my journey!

Posted in hope, joy, life, perfectionism, truth

Things I Know For Sure

Truths I have come to believe through my experiences:

  • You have no right to judge another’s experience.
  • People are never as they appear on the outside.
  • Pain is pain.
  • You can always find joy even in the hardest times.
  • You must face your fears in order to truly live.
  • You can never get back THIS moment.
  • Faith is dead without action.
  • You can CHOOSE to feel differently about ANY situation.
  • People rarely notice you (the way you think they do).
  • Always assume the best but be aware of the worst.
  • Christ is incarnate; He is found in anything beautiful in the world, most often the day-to-day things you forget to acknowledge.
  • Hope is living in the moment but knowing one day everything will be perfect.
  • You may mean little to the world, but, to one person, you may mean the world. (and that’s a GREAT reason to stay alive!)
  • My body is not my own; it is my Creator’s, that’s why I am a sacred and beautiful person.
  • People come and go from our lives; I strive to learn from each one knowing that that one conversation we have may very well be the only one.
  • Each mistake is a chance to learn more about yourself and become a better person.
  • Self-hate is a sure way to make yourself look ugly.
  • Striving for perfection takes away this moment to be completely YOU.
Posted in depersonalization disorder, failure, Jesus, poems, relationships, selfishness, suffering, truth

Falling

June 10, 2005

can’t explain the way I feel

it’s like everything inside of me is squishing together

I feel it as physical nausea

everything’s about to explode

though I don’t know what everything is

I just have the feeling

I don’t know where the feeling comes from

I am not sure of anything

I am sitting here

getting more and more confused about my existence

thinking about it does not help

but I have nothing else to do

that is no excuse

writing this probably doesn’t help either

but I have to get it out

not I need to write about something else

something that matters

I don’t know what to do to get out of this whirlwind

Lord help me get out of this trap of confusion

I need to break out of this glass

I need to get back within the world

the world I know you want me in

I am trying to label myself but it isn’t helping

everywhere I go I try to make my mark

I want to earn acceptance

I want to receive rapport

to no avail

I never get what I want

because I don’t even know what I want

I keep falling falling falling

And I fear I will never get up

I can never see past my failures

Because I fear seeing my successes is a failure

I don’t even know if I have any successes

Satan keeps bringing me down

I keep forgetting your truth

Your light keeps diminishing

But please don’t let it burn out

I know you won’t, Lord

I feel like it’s all about me

my failure to keep searching for you

though I so desperately wish I could

I so desperately long for freedom from myself

I never thought I would ever be this trapped

This isolated and confused in a world inside myself

A terrifying world away from reality

From the people I love

From the things you’ve given to me

Lord, how do I stop analyzing everything

How do I wake up

How do I know who to believe and what to believe

How do I know what to do and what not to do

What will help and what won’t???????

Most of all, how do I know what it means to trust you?

And how do I make that work.

It sounds so simple but it is the biggest challenge of my life

It is what I breathe every minute every second

I don’t know how I survive each day

I don’t really even want to survive some days

Lord I sometimes wish you would call it quits on my life

But I know I am being selfish

Because I know you’ll carry the good work on to completion

in my life

I just wish I knew why it was so hard for me to cooperate

What is with me that I can’t simply change

That I can’t simply make a right choice

That I can’t simply have the right attitude

That I can’t simply know who to believe?

That I can’t simply know the truth?

I mean I don’t even know if I’m sick or if, by saying that,

I am lying to myself

Am I weak by saying that, because, in some regards I feel as though I am

But I do have some disposition towards my condition too

And that’s what I have trouble with

I am always feeling pressure from others that I should change

That it’s all about me and my choices

That’s why I feel like SO much of a failure every day every hour every second

I hate living like a failure I hate myself when I am failure

I feel like everyone hates me when I am a failure

Please Jesus change me

Let me embrace the truth

Open the floodgates let me know your unfailing undying unending amazing love for me that knows no bounds

Please oh please Savior Abba!!!!

I am so so so so so overwhelmed and weary

from trying to live for others

I just JUST want to live for you and YOU alone

JESUS I need you! I live and breathe for you alone!

At least that is my desire!!!!!

Please Jesus!
That is why I struggle

Because I fail to think of you above others

I fail to remember what YOU think of me before what others think of me

You know my every thought my every move everything about me

And you love me like no other

I don’t understand it

I am so confused inside myself

But I will continue to trust in you as my life depends on it

Thank you Jesus for saving me

You take delight in me

I will try to remember this

I will draw my breath from your power made perfect in my weakness

Give me peace amidst the storm in my mind

Grant me serenity and help me know you are right here

Even when I cannot feel your presence

Thank you Lord

Help to continue praising you even when I don’t even know why.

Posted in caffeine, depression, medications, suicidal thinking

Drugs

May 3, 2007

Comfortable sitting here I don’t know what else I could want more right now. Just a little peace. Softness for my body. I could care less about anything, just to remain here forever and never move. I like being at peace. But I know it won’t last forever. And it terrifies me that I will have to get up soon and live my life. Make the decisions that I’ve been putting off. Be the part of myself that I know exists somewhere but I really don’t know where. Be that person everyone thinks I am. But that person that scares me to death. But some days inspires me. That person who I am sometimes afraid is me, sometimes, I wish was me, somehow know is me, sometimes wish could be forever. But it shifts each and every moment. She does. She’s there and not. When she’s on caffeine. When she suddenly is so shaky that the world is spinning out of control, the very ground like an earthquake. She doesn’t even know who she is. Because she wants to be this person who she sometimes glimpses but she is afraid that is not ever really her.

And today is one of those days. One of those unfeeling days. Yesterday I was on air. Accomplished so much. Had a lot of the drug. Caffeine and no matter what the world thinks I know I couldn’t accomplish what I do without it. I know that’s not good but I do it anyway. I was so proud of myself yesterday. It was so different from the day before that, Tuesday, when I wanted to kill myself. Not wanted to…maybe, but really fantasized about it. How easily I could. It feels so good knowing I have the power. Not so good that I can’t tell a single soul about it. If anyone read this, how freaked out they would be. Especially not my family or friends that have known what I’ve lived through already. How can you go back, they would think? Do you think it’s what I want to do? Well sometimes yeah. It’s so much easier to go where I am comfortable. where I don’t have to live in terror of living my life. But rather I can just put one foot in front of the other and survive. Do the simplest things in life. People really care about you when you are suffering. But when you are flourishing, they smile and sigh and think, Well that’s how it should be. She’s doing fine, so I don’t really need to help her out. I can focus on my own life now. Yes!

So two days ago, I contemplated suicide, yesterday I couldn’t be happier. Today, I am in a zone. A place where I want no one to come inside. No one can pierce my place or I might panic. I wish I could keep writing and writing and never stop. That’s how I feel today. Everything inside me has been curdling and wanted to spew but has never got the chance. And people have it ruined it for me. My opportunities to spew. I can’t stop now. I sometimes wish someone could hear me.

I realized that I have survived without counseling now for six months. I am this post college person who never thought I would ever say that. I lived through college. Maybe the hardest days of my life. That’s why I don’t want to look ahead because I am terrified that harder days will come, and my insides turn into pulp when I think about it.

I have to make some coffee. I am too relaxed and don’t feel like me. I feel more like myself when I am happy and my thoughts are running wild but in a good way. I am so much more inspired, motivated. I am so impulsive it kind of scares me a little bit. And I shake a lot. It’s hard to write and put on make-up. Sometimes I think I am going to have a panic attack. But it’s worth it for the things I can accomplish. It makes me want to live again. Besides that, I really like coffee, not just the caffeine. Coffee is my lifeline sometimes, and I know I put it up there next to God. While God can never let me down, I always turn it the other way. I always think God’s the one who’s letting me down. When I get sick with stomach aches or diarrhea or anxiety attacks, I think it’s all part of what I need to endure to be that person I really am. I really can’t see how I can survive without my caffeine. I never look to Him to help me through the day. Only my coffee.

So there’s that drug. And then there’s my other drug that people might say masks who I really am. Cymbalta. The miracle drug that finally worked. After Celexa and Effexor and Prozac and Lexapro and Neurontin and Topamax…I really thought nothing would work and I was doomed to die. Depression would eat its way at me until I literally died. But it’s so interesting to think how much better I am now. I could owe it all to this med or to God who provided it, but instead I wonder, Should I even be on this med? How do I really know that this in particular is what is really helping me. I don’t but I just keep taking it, that green and blue pill, the little rattle-like thing with the little powdery balls inside that I hear and feel flowing down my esophagus every morning. I try to take it every day between 9 and 10. I imagine how that little thing, those little balls—what they do inside of me. How they come out and go into my blood stream and hook up to some neurons which tell my brain to increase the good chemicals so that I can be happy or at the very least not get down in the dumps so easily for extended periods of time. Of course there’s times when those pills have things working against them. Like hormones. And for some reason the hormones usually win. But at least I know I am not alone. But what about on Tuesday, when for no reason, I began having those thoughts? How come my pill didn’t work that day? How could I talk myself into such a deep dark cavern? How can I trust that this med really works when I have days like that? I guess I just believe that I will never know what happens and since I have more better days than scary dark ones, then that means the little balls are working their hardest most of the time. Keeping my chemicals evened out at least as well as is possible—when it comes to what little dissolving white balls can do.

So I just take my Cymbalta 60 mg every day and hope that today is the day I figure out if I am really me when I take that pill or some version of myself or not even me at all. Or even if I really care. As long as I feel good why does it matter anyway? Because it’s scary to think I am living as someone I am not supposed to be. Even if it does mean I am happier and think more positively and can accomplish more and want to live to see my 30th birthday.

Posted in anxiety, depersonalization disorder, depression, healing, Jesus, suicidal thinking, truth

A recent talk I gave

I recently gave my testimony to my church group Immerse, composed of people in their 20s and 30s. Thought I would share it with you. It is nothing near my whole story of course-just a snapshot.

            Hi my name is Brittany and I am here tonight to share something on my heart not because I want to, but because I believe it’s what I’m supposed to do. Trust me, I have been hoping that somehow tonight’s Immerse would be rained out, a hurricane would strike, Jesus would return, anything, so that I would not have to stand in front of you all and bare my soul, but no. Whether it sounds cliché or not, I am here for a reason and so are you.

Tonight I want to talk about challenges by relating to you an extremely raw and vulnerable journey I have been on. In all of our lives, we are at a place that presents challenges, whether it be graduation from high school or college and facing the reality of being a “grown up,” whether it be a new job, a change in relationship status, a sudden or chronic illness, the loss of a loved one, whatever it is… Some of us may have what Paul calls in 2 Corinthians 12:7, a “thorn” in our flesh, a problem, whether it be an illness, habit or sin that plagues us. We think we are doomed and begin thinking of ourselves in term of this “thorn.”

It is about my own “thorn in my flesh” I would like to talk tonight. This thorn has been my decade-long struggle with depression and anxiety. On February 27, 2005, I was sitting in a parking lot waiting for my parents to drive me away, away from the hell I was experiencing at college, waiting in agony, in desperation, in a state of surreallness and dizziness. I wrote: “I have never felt more disempowered / More lowly, more pitiful / The more I am around people / The more I lose joy / Because I feel like a failure / I had so much joy before / When I felt I had it all together / When the things I did made me believe I was worthy / Mo matter how genuine the love of others / I can never accept it because/ It makes me feel more and more ashamed / Lord I want you and you only / I want to shut the world out. “ I was at the beginning on a new journey; I had no idea what hell would await me but I could tell it was starting. I was a junior at Bethel at the time. I had experienced depression on and off since adolescence; I was accustomed to it, the sadness; the endless tears; the shakiness; the constant ruminations about self, world, faith, God, death; the many medications and therapy sessions; the physical illnesses that both caused and were caused by the depressions; even the suicidal thoughts that came and went sometimes for weeks or months at a time.

Early in 2005, I thought I was having a reprieve from depression because I hadn’t thought about killing myself in a few weeks. I began having more trust in God and peace about my future. But then I began having strange symptoms in which I felt “I was withering away into nothingness.” It was a hazy, disoriented feeling in which I became an observer of the world and myself. It worsened to the point that I literally felt no control over what I did or said. When I talked it was like a stranger’s voice talking. This made participating in class discussions and even having conversations with friends a nightmare. I always seemed fine on the outside, but sometimes when someone got close to me I would become unable to breathe and my heart would start to race. It felt like other people were literally sucking the life out of me. Not only that but I began feeling a lot of tightness in my chest starting around 6 or 7 pm every day. It felt like my body was shutting down; I could do nothing but lay down, but when I tried to rest, my mind raced and I would lay there as if there were a hundred bricks on me.

I researched my condition and later confirmed with a doctor I was suffering from depersonalization disorder, which is often a coping mechanism for people who do not adjust to change well, perhaps a symptom of depression. Looking back several years later, I realize I’d had a crazy couple months. I was still adjusting to my life back in the U.S. after a semester in Guatemala. I was dealing with the fact that both of my older brothers were in serious relationships. My one brother Greg suddenly got engaged to in November to Sarah-a girl younger than me who I barely knew. This news sent me into a tailspin. I felt my brother was being lost to me while also jealous and full of self-pity and self-hatred because of state of singleness. My oldest brother Nate, with whom I was extremely close, was dating my best friend Bethany and I was very enmeshed with their relationship. December came, and besides normal holiday and winter blues and dealing with my new bizarre physical symptoms, I was reeling with pain and sorrow of the tsunami tragedy in Southeast Asia (I had a history of experiencing worsening depression when disasters such as this occurred). Then in January, at the start of an extremely stressful interim (in which I took one class but was expected to do about 8 hours of homework a day), Nate broke up with Bethany. I did not deal with this well, especially since I lived with Bethany. It was one of the most painful times of my life. Whether it was this new disorder, or just a different type of depression, I later realized my body did not know what to do with all the changes and stress around me.

I began my second semester at Bethel with a full load of classes, including an internship in a third-grade classroom. I was also working part time taking care of adults with disabilities in a group home. In all of my activities I hoped everyone saw me as a professional, competent, secure and happy person. Inside it was a hellish war; in fact, it became a daily battle to survive, to not take my life. I was constantly reasoning with God, pleading with him to take me out of my misery, my physical pain, paralyzing anxiety and despair. There were very few days that went by that I did not create a plan in my mind of how to take my own life. I was so desperate for relief – I had always thought about hurting myself but I had never gone through with it. So one evening, I cut myself with a razor.  I’d heard that cutting had helped with relief of pain and my distorted mind told me, “What’s there to lose?” The next day, I was at my elementary school internship in the faculty bathroom. I felt so dissociated I didn’t even know who I was. I wanted nothing to do with the broken and confused girl I was the night before but I in no way could become the competent and worthy adult I wanted to be in that moment. I was washing my hands in the bathroom and wished I could just wash away every painful thing I had ever done to myself. I felt like I was and always would be my own worst enemy. In thirty seconds, I would have to face twenty-five children and try to teach them how to not be like me. I could not do this. I hated who I was. How would I ever change?

Just a few days later, I told my psychologist at Bethel about the cutting incident and that day he along with my parents basically made the decision for me: I would take a leave of absence from school. In a matter of hours, my whole world once again shifted. Little did I know I would continue to struggle with the confusing physical symptoms of disorientedness and feeling outside of my body, body heaviness, headaches, and paralyzing anxiety and depression for another several months. Not to mention the hard toll the many medications I was prescribed took on my body and mind over the course of many months and years.

While 2005 was one of the hardest years of my life, I can tell you today that I rarely have that harrowing feeling of being stuck inside my body and being unable to control what I do or say.  I rarely feel unable to breathe when people are in my presence nor the tightness in my body beginning at 6 pm each evening. Hallelujah! The dissociative symptoms began to wear off during the summer of 2005 and as I prepared for my reentry to Bethel. Unfortunately, severe and unpredictable mood swings would continue to interfere with my daily life for many years. While I have gone through a tremendous amount of healing-thank you God!- I still struggle with depression, anxiety, panic and mood swings today. I still struggle daily with thoughts straight from the Devil: lies about who I am, that perfection is the key to happiness, that my worth is dependent on my marital status or the kind of job I have or how I look; about who God is, that he is distant and uncaring, that he is not the real God, that he is weak, that everything I ever believed about God and Christ is in my head, that I made it here because of my own will power; and many many more.

I wanted to share with you some of the things that I learned since those dark days and what I continue to learn as I live with my struggles daily. I have learned what it means to live, to live fully on this earth. For so many years, I supported a habit, a bad habit perhaps borne of the lopsided chemicals in my brain but, I believe, due even more to demonic influences. The habit became automatic. Whenever I encountered a trial, large or small, a sudden voice in the recesses of my mind: “You could always kill yourself.” The thought that I had a way out was liberating to me. The thought came more pronounced and invading the darker and deeper my depressions. On the most troubling, painful, shame-filled nights of my soul I would war in my mind the idea of taking my own life. I would always involve God in this. I would cry out, “Lord, please take me home to heaven!” When I was wracked with so much physical pain and emotional deadness, I felt like I could offer the world nothing. I lamented, using my Christian upbringing as a rationalization for my thoughts. Many of the hymns I grew up singing had to do with looking forward to heaven and leaving this earth. One of my favorite contemporary Christian songs included this lyric: “This world has nothing for me.” When listening to this song and others with similar words, I thought, “See, it can’t be wrong to feel what I feel.” But then I would get so low and, knowing God would not strike me dead, I realized I had to act for myself. There were so many times I was close to ending my life. But I never attempted it. I woke up one morning in April 2005 and my day lay before me like a barren wasteland. Dead, empty, meaningless. I was so hollow, I began thinking again of escaping life by my own hand. I started creating a detailed plan. My main reasons for not killing myself were, first of all, I knew it would be unbearable for my friends and family, and, second of all, what would God say when I got to heaven? That day, I thought, I was no longer the person my friends and family loved and could never be that person again. I also reasoned that although God would be mad he would still let me in to heaven. Maybe I would feel some disappointment for letting God down, but once in heaven, it wouldn’t matter. So, there I lay with my own life in my hands. But I just laid there, practically immobilized. Looking back on that day, I knew there must have been an angel holding me down on that bed.

Over the course of many years, I am learning that unlike the “Christian” messages I have received (and perhaps distorted in my mind) it is okay to enjoy life on earth while also anticipating heaven. Thanks to our Amazing Savior and Healer, nowadays I rarely think of taking my own life! (I am still in awe because this used to be a daily occurrence!) Instead of longing for Jesus to come back on a daily basis, I have come to realize all of the beautiful things that this world has to offer. Through some of the teachings of this church, I have realized that the kingdom of God is not out of reach but it is with us right now. I have begun to see myself as a beautiful extension of Christ and my life as a gift. Again it has taken many many years of growth, of continued trial and failure in my life and of help from professionals and others God has put in my path.

This leads to my next realization in my journey with depression: Jesus wants me to experience joy. Probably one of the strangest yet most profound lies I have believed my whole life is this: “I deserve to be miserable.” I don’t know where this came from except I grew up most of my life thinking I was the “sick one” (I got sick a lot) or the “whiny” and “negative” and “crabby” one out of all my siblings. Throughout my life, mostly due to my melancholy personality, I have always struggled to “be happy.” I would get messages from my dad, cheery messages like “Let’s be looking for the good and positive things in life!” (in which cases I would want to hit him) or sardonic ones from my brothers, “Did you know it takes seven times more muscles to frown as it does to smile?” Even now when I am experiencing joy and yet I know there are people suffering, especially if I’m somewhat close to them, I tell myself, “No, you can’t be happy when so-and-so is suffering” as if I’m going to betray them. I have come to realize that my friends wouldn’t want me to be miserable; they wouldn’t want to wish their pain on me. I’ve also realized God is the God of joy. And Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God…will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” I try to picture God dancing and singing when he thinks about me…it’s so hard to do, but I have really begun to believe it! I strive to be like God, dancing with joy over the things he has given me.

Thirdly, don’t think there is one solution to your problem. I have this habit of getting into all-or-nothing thinking a lot. There is one thing out there that will “cure” me, instead of realizing that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Surprise, surprise these “good things” can actually come from the secular world. While I greatly benefitted from Christian books and music, reading Scripture, prayer, journaling and encouragement from Christian friends and family, I also underwent a year-and-a-half long group therapy program similar to AA that is based on Buddhist ideas and it really changed my life. And I won’t neglect to praise God for all that he taught me through that program. I have also been down the traditional medicine and therapy path, but have also experimented with alternative medicine. I have received relief from both worlds, but, sadly, I have discovered that neither is perfect

You may have days where there is nothing you can think of except escaping life on earth. This leads me to my next lesson I learn daily: gratitude. No matter how hellish you feel, there are always things to thank God for. Think of things you take for granted like being able to move your arms and legs; your ability to smell, feel, hear, taste and see; your ability to breathe; your overall health. Think of all the people in your life who love you and who you love so much it hurts.

Break life down into particles.  Look for the smallest things that bring you joy: a bird singing, the sun shining, how your pet feels when you pet him or her, the taste of your favorite food, the warmth of a deep hot bath when you’re freezing, the smell of rain…Use your five senses at all times.  “Count your blessings” may be an old saying, but it is really a life-giving activity. Whenever you’re struggling, make a list of all the things in your life that make you happy (a “gratitude list”). Another idea is to create a “survival kit” –a box with things that will fill your soul with peace and give you strength and hope: pictures of loved ones, favorite books, powerful Scriptures, etc. Turn to your gratitude list and survival kit on the really low days. And never forget that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). Thank him for those gifts every day.

To continue, use the Words of God –Scripture-as your very breath. A lot of the times I couldn’t get any words out onto paper or into my mind so I would turn to Scripture, especially the Psalms. Despite my utter pain, I found solace in Psalms because they are so guttural and real. I felt myself constantly crying out with the Psalmist, “Oh Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from the ravages, my precious life from these lions…” I would write down the Psalms and memorize them. Or I would write my own rendition of a Psalm. On February 24, 2005, even though I was living a hellish existence, I wrote this poem in my journal based on Psalm 42, “Flowing down filling me up / Heavenly waters above / Falling lightly / Then heavier and heavier / So cool refreshing cooling / The depths of Your love in the water / Calls out to the depths of my soul / They meet and caress/ Filling me with hope and peace / Deep fills deep / My soul is satisfied.”

This leads me to writing. Writing in my journal whether in the form of a poem, a prayer, or random ramblings was what kept me sane. I always had an outlet-I knew I could say whatever I wanted in there and no one would have to know unless I told them. The best thing about my journaling times was the closeness I would feel to God. Sometimes I would start off my journal with all sorts of lies about myself and the world and God…but I would just write and write and write. True, sometimes I ended up even more confused and hurt than when I started. But more often than not, I would end with a profound truth and realization of who I was or who God was. In going back and reading my journals, I realize in awe and amazement that what was coming out of my pen was not of me…it was the words of the Holy Spirit Himself. I have actually gone back to receive comfort by my own words a lot of times! God was truly at work in my life and my writing is one very vivid way I was able to see it.

Another important lesson I am learning is acceptance. You need to accept that you don’t and may never understand. I still don’t understand why I got so “messed up” when I grew up in a mostly stable household with loving Christian parents. It does not help to analyze it too much nor to compare your experience with another’s (“so-and-so was abused as a child and she went through this dramatic healing, and here I am” or “so-and-so’s faith is so much stronger”). There are so many things about the world, such as wars and natural disasters, that continue to confound me and could easily make me depressed like they did in the past. As simple as it sounds, I am learning to “pray, not worry.” I need to trust that the God I know and love is in control and I am not.

I have to learn to accept that things are the way they are and most of the time I cannot change that. A few years ago, I accepted that I would probably struggle with depression the rest of my life.  Let’s look at the verse I brought up before, 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10: “…there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” This is so powerful! It is so refreshing to know that Paul, the author, also pleaded with God to take something away (in my case it was about a thousand-not three-times!) but he came to accept his “thorn” because he realized God could use him in his weakness. Not only that, but Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness. While I am still learning what this means, I know one of the reasons is I can reach people because of my experiences with severe depression and anxiety. If I did not go through that or if I didn’t continually struggle today, I would not be here sharing this.

Finally, in closing, an essential element of healing for me has been to connect with others. Every person here tonight is battling a “thorn” in his or her flesh. We are all so similar. Your “thorn” may be sin itself or it may be a struggle that has the capacity to produce sinful behavior. Like me, you may continue to tell yourself as you sin away, “I can’t help it-that’s how I am.” Please do not believe this lie! We are all prone to certain sins because of our personalities and experiences. I have accepted that it is natural for me to jump to negative conclusions about every person or situation. And I hate that about me. But because of my relationship with Christ, I have seen growth in myself. One of the reasons is that the Lord has helped me reach out to others. In talking today, I feel that I will be leaving even more chains behind because I have let some unpleasant things about me come to the light. Sharing our sins with one another breaks down barriers and unites us with each other and with God. 1 John 1: 5-7 says, “If we claim to have fellowship with God yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Satan wants us to keep our sins a secret so we are bound by them; all the while he is lying to us, telling us we will never change.

So the main thing I urge you to do in closing is to tell someone today about your struggle. Yes, it will be hard. You may wonder what people will think of you or even if your friends or family members will disown you. So many times I have thought that; then I was pleasantly surprised that my loved one reacted in a loving, caring way. Often you will find that others have the same struggle as you do-how refreshing it is to not feel so alone! You will be surprised at the freedom that will come in sharing your burden, so I urge you to come into the light!  I am willing to talk with you afterward about your depression or any other issue. Otherwise we have pamphlets available with some services in the area where you can receive support. Thanks, you guys, for letting me share with you tonight. I know there is a reason why each one of you is here tonight.

Posted in gratefulness, prayers, Satan, selfishness, thoughts

my “Baca”

April 13, 2005

Dear Lord, I feel as thought you’ve refreshed my journey, my “Baca” with your cooling autumn rains. I feel at peace in the midst of your pools and springs. I am ready to take the step to the next STRENGTH in my life. I am sick of being so full of sickness and fatigue and darkness. I am read to be free. But, Lord, it’s not going to be easy. Now that you’ve helped me make this powerful discovery, my life is going to change. All because of these four words I keep hearing from You: “It’s not about you.” As I was talking with Mom and Dad tonight, I realized everything’s wrapped up in the simple fact that I’m not looking to You for anything but only to myself. I look to anything and everything to make myself happy and secure. I think that nothing I do is meaningful unless I get something back…

I am ready to change. It will be difficult because it seemed I always had a crutch-myself-that I deceivingly believed was the reason I was alive. I’ve know all along this is, of course, wrong. I’ve known to trust You only but my actions and thoughts have shown otherwise. I need to remember that ANY good done of me is not me but Your work through me. This will help me remember how much You’ve already done through me in the past, but it also gets me excited because I feel now more than ever I realize my weakness of self-dependence.

Somehow, I’m starting to realize you love me even as a broken, weak and awful person (even though you see me as blameless). I’m so glad you created me to be in communion with You and share your love and grace with others. I’m so thankful of the gifts you’ve given me, for the ways I can touch people like no one else can-that’s amazing and it’s all because of You. You are awesome, Lord! I’m so sorry I wanted to throw a part of You away by thinking of ending my life. My doubts of your power and control and about myself definitely created a barrier in my relationship with You.

Overall, Lord, I’ve been so selfish. In a perverted sense, I’ve thought I was being self-sacrificial by hurting myself emotionally, mentally (and almost physically). But, Lord, You know how I let Satan in to confuse me. I was really hurting You by thinking so many negative thoughts toward myself. I was really being selfish in that I wasn’t allowing anyone to love me, by choosing to be alone, by thinking that everything that happened (or didn’t happen) was my fault. Lord, I took everything on my own shoulders instead of giving it over to You. Lord, I’m so sorry. Even now, I’m not totally sure of all my purposes in life or how I will affect people. But I do know this: it’s not about me; it’s about trusting You to bring about Your good work through me.  Lord, because of You, I’m starting to really know why I’m alive: to learn how to love You, myself and others. Thank You, Abba! Amen