In the last several years I have had the privilege of facing some very challenging times in life that have led to dealings with depression, anxiety and despair. Did I just say privilege? Yes I did. I had the privilege of facing some things that shook me to the core, messed my belief system, blew my dreams to smithereens and left me standing bruised, burned and in tears in the middle of nowhere. Those who are very close to me know the depth of these challenges but they don’t scratch the surface of what others I know around me have gone through.
I wasn’t the one who couldn’t get out of bed daily. I wasn’t the angry, moody one. I was the high functioning, externally confident, high performer who was dying on the inside.
I remember battling the thought that I shouldn’t feel so low if the joy of the Lord is my strength. I remember standing on the Word, it failed and fell apart. I remember asking, how could I be so sad and miserable when God has promised to lead me in green pastures by cool waters? Had I lost the plot? Would I ever recover? Am I crazy to be feeling the way I am?
One of the greatest moments of shift was when I mentioned my struggles to a very dear sister with the fact that I was seeing a shrink. Her response was a simple “so?” What? How? Her response took me aback because I expected her to run for the hills and never come back. To discard me as broken. To judge. Then she helped me understand. She too had struggled and sought help from a shrink and doors opened to healing and strength.
I began the journey to healing that day and it has been quite a journey. It is still a walk and the best part was finding people who share my faith, have been through it or are actively helping others through it without losing their faith.
How did I make it back? Am I even back? Yes I am back and it has been quite a journey.
The biggest challenge was rebuilding my faith. It fell apart because it was premised on things and actions rather than a deep seated love relationship. I had all the good girl things ticked; served in church, went for bible study, shared my faith, led youth groups etc. and I thought I was solid. When the foundation fell out and my life wasn’t working as I trusted it would and I was left with nothing, I realised that my foundation was actually on sand and I didn’t even know. The loss and failure triggered a crisis of faith and trust that triggered deep depression, anxiety and despair that only I could dig my way out.
What did I do?
I let go of expectation.
I let go of people.
I let go of hopes and dreams.
I let go of the wanting people to make me happy.
I understood that where I am is a result of the choices I have made and I can make another choice to get out.
I understood that certain people won’t stay even if I wanted them to and so I found ‘my people’ and we held each others hands.
I outsourced my faith and asked people to pray for me when I couldn’t pray for myself.
I asked God to cut the crap, come, sit next to me and teach me Himself who He is or just get out of the picture completely.
I was done with unreliable people and that included Him if He wasn’t going to show up.
I know many say it is audacious but when you are at rock bottom and have nothing to lose, you can only go upward with those who decide to walk with you.
Let me tell you…
God showed up in full force.
He held me,
Uncovered all the levels of madness and false expectations I was living by,
Showed me all the lies I had listened to and given strength.
He taught me the things that would get me from one end to another.
I learnt that the things that will get me out of that place may not the same for my sister or brother so I don’t use my way out to tell people how to get out.
I ask them to find their answers at the foot of the cross.
Mental wellness is a personal journey that can make us stronger if we let it. Surprised I’ve been on this journey? Just imagine how many others around you are in this track and you don’t even know.
Let’s begin to have honest conversations about mental health.