It's the first month of the year. There's something about the New Year that seems to bring everyone a sense of hope and renewal. People make resolutions and rededicate their lives to their passions, their jobs, their families. The New Year did not always hold these sentiments for me. There was a time in my life where I was deeply consumed with anguish and purposelessness.
I was on the phone with a dear friend a few weeks back and as we were catching up on life, we stumbled into the topic of mental health. It's not a secret that the topic of mental health is still taboo for some. As we got deeper into the conversation, she shared with me how she had recently overcome a season of depression. Everything she was saying hit home with me and naturally, I shared my own story of my battle with depression both in the past and the present.
"I have never heard you share any of that. I wish I had known this before" she said.
Surprised to hear her response, I went into further detail with the intention of reassuring her that she was not alone. Sharing my story with her seemed to really help, so I thought I'd share it with you too.
I'm not here to play the role of a psychiatrist, or tell you how to handle your depression, I am not qualified to do that. I simply want to share what depression looked like for me and the process that helped me to no longer be consumed by it.
I started to feel that something may be off with me when I couldn't stop sleeping. I was on the verge of failing every course I was in because I simply wasn't going to class. I wasn't going to class because I was sleeping from midnight until six or seven in the evening. When my roommates would come home I would act like I had been out that day or act as if I was just napping. I'd go to the kitchen late at night for something small to eat and return to my bed until the next day. It wasn't that I didn't want to get up, but I just couldn't.
A lot of my depression was rooted in guilt. I felt guilty about the fact that I may be depressed. I had no tangible reason to be 'sad.' I was enrolled in college, I had a car, a house, great friends and family, a great job...the list goes on.
Talking to my friends did not help with the guilt.
"What would you possibly have to be depressed about?" one friend asked me.
The truth was, I didn't really know. I didn't have an answer. I just knew that I felt numb, hopeless and excessively tired for what seemed to be no reason.
Then came death.
I lost a couple of close family members in relatively short period of time and the grief coupled with the depression sent me into a space where I relied on outside resources to feel any kind of 'joy.' Marijuana was my best friend during this time because she was a remedy for multiple issues. I was the thinnest I had ever been due to a significant lack of appetite so, I would smoke to make me hungry. Without weed, I felt indifferent toward just about everything, with weed, I felt a little more alive. Visuals were slightly more intense, people were funnier, sex was better, work was more palatable. But when I wasn't high, the reality of my life sent me deeper into my misery. Alcohol became my resource to release the emotion that I didn't have the energy to release otherwise. I would throw back shot after shot, party with my friends and then cry myself to sleep.
Then came a breakup.
At this point, I was done but God was present. Even though I felt unstable, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. I was going home. Being around my family, people who loved me unconditionally, forced me to get out of bed, to engage and to get out of the house. Being around my family didn't reverse my depression but my downward spiral had finally hit bottom. And when you've hit bottom, there is nowhere to go but up. I decided to take up journaling. The pages would be filled "God I'm hurting, Lord help me, I can't take it anymore, please fill me, please heal me." There were two psalms I would recite to myself any time I was feeling down.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit....He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.. Psalms 34:18, 147:3
I challenged myself to say those simple words to myself, no matter what. Every time I cried myself to sleep. Every time I wished that I would just randomly die, because I couldn't muster up the guts to take my own life. Every time I felt unworthy, unintelligent, unattractive, I would say the words, even if all I said was, "He heals the broken hearted."
I'm not sure how much time went by or how many tears I cried, but one day I woke up and I no longer felt consumed. What I'm trying to say is, keep going. Please don't give up. You are here for a reason. You are worthy, you are loved.
I'm not going to give up, I'm going to keep going.
I'm here for a reason.
I have a purpose .
If the New Year didn't bring you new hope, you aren't alone. Every morning is an opportunity to start fresh. Every day that you open your eyes, is a miracle, a calling for you to walk in your purpose. Don't know what your purpose is? You aren't alone in that either. You.Are.Not.Alone.
Just keep going.
Happy New Year.