Banishing the Skeleton: depression, one year later

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I want to talk about something that has been weighing on my heart.

As a recent university graduate, my mind has been very retrospective as I reflect on where I am in life and where I want to be. I think about school, friendships, family, relationships, and adulthood. But the one thing that continues to take over my thoughts is the memory of my encounter with depression.

I was diagnosed with depression thirteen months ago. Unbeknownst to me or anyone else, I had been living with the illness for five years, and upon diagnosis it morphed from a personality trait into an all-consuming power over my being. Funny how once something has a name, has an identity, how it comes alive. Even when my depression was named for what it was, I chose, and still choose, to call it by a different name. I still try to have an element of control over what power this illness holds over me. I call the turmoil my skeleton, because it lives in the closet of my mind, and that is where I like to keep it. I try to deny it’s existence, to keep it ignored. But when it does come out to play in my moments of weakness, it takes over, and there’s almost nothing I can do but surrender to the ceaseless tidal waves of overwhelming emotion. My skeleton whispers lies in my ear, teases me by playing tricks in my mind, and takes over control of my body.

At the time of my diagnosis, my behavior was marked by extremes. Over the course of a day I could go from head-over-heels in love and friendly to all, to choking on self-loathing and despair, drowning in the sheets of my boyfriend’s bed, my prison. And when I found myself in the emotional pit of darkness and hatred, there was nothing that could get me out. No effort of my own nor anyone else’s had the power to lift me from my hardened heart and hurricane of emotions.

Hysterics. Deadened. Fragile. Anger. Hurt. Shredded.

“I wish I was dead.”

The words that landed me on the doctor’s examination table. The words whispered as I soaked in my tears on the living room floor. The words in my mind as I considered my options of death over life. The words my skeleton embodied as it dominated my entire being.

One day I will write about the details of that hell. But not today.

One day I will also write about the details of my recovery. But that too is for another time.

It shall suffice to say that my collision with God in the months following my emotional and mental breakdown is what tipped the scales to once again favor life over death. I had a little pill, a furlough away from the circumstantial chaos, but most of all I had Truth being poured into my soul where before there were only lies. Like waves of golden light driving out the demons, I began to be renewed.

These are the memories that continue to grasp my attention.

And yet, I still have depression. I am by no means an expert, but I do not believe that once you recover from the bout of depression that landed you with a diagnosis, that you  are healed of the illness. It has been my experience that my skeleton still comes out every now and again. Several months ago it was so bad that I once again began to lose control of my behavior. When I realized that I was entering a place where my depression had more control over me than I had over myself, I about lost it in terror. Sheer panic at my emotional state as memories of the hell I had escaped less than a year earlier came flooding back. I couldn’t reach God by myself in that moment. I praise the Lord for the friend who guided me back to His goodness, truth, and faithfulness to me. I poured truth over myself to drown out the lies, and eventually managed to avoid the spiral into the depths of torment.

So. A year later. I no longer have a pill and I am no longer hiding from the things that bring me anxiety. But most importantly, I no longer fear the power of the skeleton. You see, I came across a realization a little while ago that about blew me out of my chair when it hit. It started with a song I heard performed, called “Ghost.” The understanding is this: that although I live with a skeleton inside of me, I also live with a ghost. A Holy Ghost. A ghost with the power of the God of the universe. A ghost whose mightiness and glory and strength is greater than any illness known to man. A ghost who tells me truths, banishes the darkness, and who pours comfort and grace over my soul.

A ghost who will always win. Who will always rise in victory when pitted against my skeleton.

My battle with depression has undoubtedly been a life-changing journey. One that will always be on my mind as long as I struggle with my emotions. But it does not define me. Only my title as a Beloved Child of God does that.

Singlehood

The State of Being Single

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Or better known as, my personal Hell.

I am a wannabe flower-child-pnw-hipster and I have been single for 3100 hours. Hours of tears, pity, shame, confusion, and misery as I try. Try to do what? I’m not even sure.

Why am I single?

Because every time I allow my heart to fall, it falls like a carnival glass bowl over oil-stained concrete. Because every time I choose a man, I choose out of selfishness  to fill the emptiness in my heart. Because every time I invest in another, my worth is so tied up in their love for me that I cannot stand the thought of having to be enough for myself. Because yes, though God is my God and my worth and value is forever defined by him, sometimes I feel like I might mean more to Him, than to myself. And what’s more, I feel like He would love me more if I was in a relationship.

How do I feel about my singlehood?

First, I feel depressed. I question everything I am. Why am I not good enough for him? What if I was prettier? I wish he thought my jokes were funny. I must be garbage if I did all this and he didn’t even notice. Then, I feel angry. Why does this always happen?? What am I missing? I have feelings for him, and yet I cannot date him. This isn’t fair. What do I need to do different? Because I’d do it in an instant. Finally, I feel ashamed. I am reminded that God’s timing is perfect, and I regret my tantrum and self-pity. And I remember how it felt when my heart shattered, when my body went through agonizing withdrawals, when my mind was swallowed up in the hurricane of my untamed emotion. Then I quietly swallow my pride and apologize to my Father.

Why do I feel like this?

I ask myself this question frequently. My emotional roller coaster is fueled by a struggle to find my worth in God and God alone. My biggest hurdle in this is living in a world full of people. People who build me up, tear me down, and tell me all sorts of things about who I am. Therefore I allow people to tell me who I am. I care too much about what they have to say. I allow them to define me, encourage me, destroy me, torment me, and calm me. I recognize that this is harmful, since my God gave up everything, his very life, to give me joy, purpose, and a future, because He loves me. But sometimes it takes a while for these truths to journey from my head and into my heart, where I can fully embrace them. Until then, I just have to remind myself of my incorruptible worth in Jesus every time my heart starts to storm over with doubt.

What could I have done differently?

Simple. I could have actively worked to prevent heartbreak by pursuing my relationship with God before pursuing my relationship with men. This is what I need to work on most in my blasted singlehood. Finding acceptance in who I am, where I am in life, and in what I mean to those around me.

Can I accept that I did my best?

No. When I look in retrospect at my past relationships, it is clear as day that I was living so selfishly. Those moments were not my best, and to make matters worse, I knew it. There is so much pain and regret in my heart now because of my past selfishness, and I am torn between hating myself for it and just letting it be. I am constantly told “Those experiences shaped you into who you are today, so you shouldn’t want to take them back.” And while there is truth in that, I mourn the time and innocence that I lost through my investments in unhealthy relationships. Thank goodness I have God’s grace to cover my old life and the mistakes I made there. I may have regrets about my past decisions, but at least they don’t have to define me.

How can I love myself today?

By repeating God’s goodness out loud every time I rise from my bed and start to feel the creeping tendrils of doubt and worry sneak into my heart and into my head. CURSE YOU LIES OF SATAN, I AM A BELOVED CHILD OF GOD AND NOTHING IS EVER GOING TO CHANGE THAT.

Psalm 139:13-16 // For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

 

Do I have it all figured out? Of course not. I despise my 3100 hours of singlehood, but I know I’m walking through this period in order to grow. I know that this is an opportunity to seek God’s face in the midst of the hot mess that is my emotions. And I know that while there is a very real possibility that I will be single for the rest of my life, God is Good, and God is in Me. He is good all of the time, and His will is perfect.

So I will continue to seek after God in my singlehood. And He will continue to hold me as I scream and yell and pull out my hair at my frustration, but I will walk in obedience, no matter the cost. I am His Beloved. That is all that matters.

 

Thoughts from a Musician

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What does it mean to be passionate?

As I sit at the breakfast table, slowing sipping my coffee, I reflect upon my adventure last night.

Images race through my brain of bright strings of lights, cheerful faces, and shining instruments. Sounds echo in my ears of voices, laughter, and electric hums. My lips are tugged up in a smile as I remember the feeling of hugs, of joy, and of complete and utter contentment.

There’s a pause in my reminiscence. Contentment? I just had a terrible two weeks at school. I feel content? Just the other day I was complete worn down, drowning in heartbreak, stress, hunger, and despair. And yet, I cannot deny the warmth in my heart. Why is that? And then it dawns on me: when was the last time I allowed myself to fully engage in something I was passionate about like I did last night?

Passion in my eyes is one of those God-given gifts to humanity that gives us a glimpse into heaven, and when we allow ourselves to let go of all worries and instead completely engage with what we’re made to do, we experience the Kingdom.

So again I revisit last night in my mind. Myself and five other of my close friends held a benefit concert to raise money for college students to attend mission trips. Together we planned out a night of music, from blues, to heavy rock; from ballads to twangy folk, and MAN we sounded good. I look around and I am surrounded by incredible vocalists, soloists, and musicians who are passionate. These are people who are not afraid of what people think of them. People who, once they embrace their instrument in their hands, they embrace it with their whole being, and create beautiful art.

I feel incredibly honored that I got to be a part of that. That I got to join them in the artistic frenzy, and use the gifts God has given me to participate in something wonderful.

So yes. This morning, I am filled with contentment from indulging my soul in freedom. From taking a deep breath and inviting the Kingdom into my daily life.

I think I need to allow myself to be passionate more often.

Dating While Christian

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Being a Christian in today’s world is risky business, especially when it comes to relationships. I know for me personally, I’ve struggled with contradictions of values when I’ve dated non-Christian men. However, I’ve also had really successful relationships with non-believers, but in those cases I’ve had to deal with my judgemental family. Never though have I read an article that so encapsulates the way I feel until today.

Not only does this article describe what it’s like to “come out” religiously in this atheist world, but it shows to us the possibility of being in a relationship with someone with different beliefs. It’s so relieving to know that I’m not alone with the way I feel about my beliefs compared to someone else’s.

Dating While Christian… http://www.buzzfeed.com/katherinemyers/coming-out-as-christian-among-americas-godless-coastal-elite?utm_term=.tonz0P0lJ

Shared from WordPress

I don’t think I can begin to describe how important this is. It’s a hard decision. But ultimately, choosing a fulfilling lifestyle with the trust that the partner of your dreams will follow over a life of compromise with the one you love now is worth it. You owe it to them, and you owe it to yourself.

You Should Choose The Lifestyle You Want Over The Person You Want – http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ThoughtCatalog/~3/dtrAD8oOq4Y/story01.htm

20 Reasons The Great Gatsby Is The Best Novel Ever

Here’s a little tribute to one of my favorite books of all time.

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You guys know I love The Great Gatsby. It’s my favorite novel, and it currently sits #1 out of the 76 novels I’ve read during this project so far.

But I haven’t talked about the novel in a really long time, like two weeks maybe. So I thought I’d break down why Gatsby is so awesome in a fun Friday listicle.

Let’s go! So why is The Great Gatsby the greatest novel ever?

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