Today (yesterday by the time you are reading this) was the anniversary of a day when things really started to turn south in my life as a young teen. I don’t talk about it too much on my blog, out of respect for the family members involved, but yesterday was one of those days that’s hard for me every year.
Every fall I fight depression. Every. Single. Year. It’s gotten a lot better this year, but I’m still not immune. There are specific days that are harder than others, typically “anniversaries” of bad things that happened to me as a teen. It amazes me that my body still reacts to these days, so many years later. Even if I am not thinking about what day it is, my mind knows. It’s muscle memory in a way, and it manifests itself differently on specific days of the year, like today.
I try to keep the hard days in mind and prepare myself as I go into them. This helps me not be blindsided by depression or even physical illness when I wasn’t expecting it. It helps me get ready so I make sure that I’m in a position to manage my symptoms if any arise.
This year wasn’t so bad. I made plans with a friend to get out of the house (thank you, sweet friend!) and had a lot of work to catch up on during nap time, so I stayed busy and it was a pretty good day!
But something happened on the way home from the park. My (old) song came on the radio. twice. For those of you that have not read my post about the song, I rediscovered “because of you” by Kelly Clarkson a few years ago and immediately identified with the entire thing. Every last word of it, and it became my song. A year or so later I replaced the Kelly Clarkson song with another (a psalm this time) and although my heart has moved on from that period of anger and overwhelming hurt, the song always brings up some memories for me of a certain period of life.
So it came on the radio in the car, I listened to it, and my heart was overwhelmed again. But not with pain this time or even regret. Just a huge dose of thanksgiving. One line of the song says “I’m ashamed of my life, because it’s empty”, and while that may have been and felt true a few years ago, nothing could be farther from the truth today.
As I sat driving my car with my two sweetly rambunctious kiddos in the back seat I realized that I’m no longer ashamed of my life. I’m actually pretty proud of it. It’s been a hard journey these last several years. Most of the time I literally had no strength to make it on my own, and I just had to cry out that God would rescue me. Some days I didn’t even have the strength for that, and my husband would cry out to God on my behalf. And the wonderful truth is, God did rescue me. I’m nowhere near the same place I was 5 years ago. Or even last year. I’m still traveling, but I am at a point where I’m happy and proud to be where I am.
I have a wonderful family, I have dreams and goals for the future. Goals that extend beyond “overcoming depression & PTSD” and “just being happy”, because I feel like (for the most part at least) I’ve met those worthy goals, and now I’m striving for new things. To be a great mom & wife (a never-ending goal), to buy a house, to become a published author, and an advocate for young & unwed moms in my community, to be a help to kids who are unable to help themselves, and more…
I’m not ashamed of my life anymore, and I can see now that it was never empty. Even when I was barely making it through each day, even when I truly didn’t think I’d make it another minute, it was not empty. God was preparing me all along, clutching my hand and holding my very being, through all the tears and pain. He was with me through the depression, the anger and the hatred. He conquered it all for me and gave me the strength to fight. Even on the days when I could not see him and could not understand, He was there.
He’s the one that sent my husband to me to help me along the way. He sent my new church, filled with beautiful friends that somehow always know what I need (even when I don’t know myself). He sent my counselor to help me work through the darkest days of PTSD and give me the tools to face it in the future. Everyday that I felt abandoned. He was there, preparing me and healing. even when I couldn’t see it.
But I can see it now. as the shame and the pain lifts itself from my heart, I can see it.
And I am thankful.
Thankful to God & thankful to all my friends and family that helped me along the way and chose not to shame me, when so many others chose to blame me, and where I already nurtured so much shame for myself.
This year, on this hard day, I feel so immensely blessed, that the normal difficulties of the day seem to fade to nothing more than a PMS type of day. . . and I am in awe.
So if you find yourself still stuck in a deep depression that feels as if you may never get out. There is still hope. If you have been on the journey away from despair for so long that you have started to wonder if you will ever be whole. There is hope for you yet.
I don’t have all the answers, I truly can’t explain all the steps I went through to get to this day of healing, but it was worth it. All the days when I didn’t want to go on, they were worth fighting through. All the times when I thought healing could never come soon enough, and I’d never make it and become who I want to be, those days were definitely worth enduring too.
Because it’s coming. I’m still not exactly who I want to be, but I am some one that I’m not afraid of. I am someone that is enjoying her life. And though the hard days still come, they don’t knock me off my feet like they once did. I may trip up a bit, but I don’t end up lying in the dark for
weeks months like I once did.
There is hope for you too. Hope found in Jesus who endured all our shame and suffering for us, and created the way of escape. If you don’t know Him, let’s talk. Seriously. Email me, and let’s talk about it. And if you do know him, maybe you just need the reminder that He’s worth clinging to. That He already conquered this pain thousands of years ago, that He knows the way out, however long it may take.
Praying that you find hope today, and hope for the journey.