Trigger warning: this long post about mental health discusses dark thoughts and suicide, with a hopeful theme and conclusion.
My apologies for the long pause in this blog, but the house of cards that was my life finally came crashing down, and I hope my sharing this will help others in similar circumstances to get the help they need.
But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf. -Acts 27:41
Behold, I am going to do something new, Now it will spring up; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:19
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28
Message in a bottle
To whoever reads this note: My ship lost its way, got smashed apart, and I am now stranded on the island of Sea Kelp (seek help)! However, this island has some amazing resources I’ve been needing to get fixed up. It turns out that my shipwreck was just what was needed, because the trip was increasingly unmanageable, and my life needed this stop to regroup and rebuild.
Rewind and review
Though I was indeed saved in 2013 when a colleague led me to Jesus, I didn’t realize I was still wearing the same gray goggles of depression I’d been wearing since early childhood. It’s hard to realize something like that when you’ve haven’t seen life without them–I didn’t realize I was wearing them at all until 2021!
In 2018, I was excited to go into the field of organizational change management (OCM), but a friend told me I first needed to apply OCM to my personal life. I had no idea how true that was.
For decades, I’ve always been told I’m scowling…and when I look at photos of myself over the years, it’s true. I’ve always had this miserable lens through which I’ve lived and seen every day of my life. And while I’ve not understood why the world has always seem gray, or why I would overreact to situations and events, I did know that I would be in an even darker place every ten years or so–and this last episode was the straw that broke the camel’s back with strong, clear thoughts of suicide.
The foreshadowing tightrope vision
For decades, I’d also seen visions of a thin, thin tightrope, with a very heavy inverted pyramid-shaped weight balancing at the bottom tip of it. That single point held an immense amount of pressure on it, bowing the tightrope very low. The tightrope was very taut, always seeming on the verge of snapping.
That tightrope finally snapped in 2021, and I had to retreat from the plans I’d made to go into OCM. I let my job know, and I stepped back to get the spiritual and professional help I needed to stop the decades-long destructive cycle.
Eyes opened under the gray goggles
With lots of work with an amazing Christian therapist and supportive close friends, I now can see how developmental trauma in childhood started me on the road to persistent depression as far back as I can remember. That naturally affected how I handled friendships, dating, marriage, work, and parenting–every social aspect of my life.
In addition to the persistent depression, I was also hit with what’s called double depression every decade or so, where a major bout of depression would hit in parallel with my persistent depression.
That realization was groundbreaking, since it’s easy to see from a Christian perspective that Satan has been quietly at work for decades, telling me how little was my worth, and how the world would be better off without me. (He still is telling me these things.) He’s also holding these goggles in place–I still don’t know what life looks like without them!
But equally groundbreaking was my introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), where I would acknowledge such negativity as separate from me, not fused with me. With prayer and meditation, I can see the thoughts for what they are–just thoughts.
As a people pleaser, I have learned about so many boundaries I need to set and enforce. I also need to take regular exercise, eat better, and not isolate myself. In other words, I need to live a healthy life, the way God intended for me and this vessel in which He’s placed me.
The next leg of the journey?
The new path I’ll chart is still long from being plotted. Right now, I need to spend a lot more time on Sea Kelp to process everything and learn how to live a more fruitful life. After all, how can I point people to Jesus when I’ve lost my sight of Him, not even realizing I was in an emotional, psychological, and spiritual desert?
I’m very thankful God has never left me all these years, and let the life I lived in my own strength finally collapse, so I could take stock of it all and truly lean on Him with more perspective than I’ve ever had before.
Friend, if any of the above sounds familiar to you, head straight to Sea Kelp–don’t wait till you shipwreck like I did. Stop trying to manage and control every aspect of your life, and surrender it all to God, so that He may help you (as He is helping me) to drop all the negative pressures and falsehoods the world foists on you. Let Him instead be the one who helps you to live life authentically–to your joy and His glory.
Now more than ever, I hark back to one of my favorite songs of all time, one that I would want played at my funeral one day: “The Words I Would Say” by Sidewalk Prophets. It’s about what I would tell you if we were face to face…that you’re here for a reason, God’s got His hand on you, and that He will do great things through you. I pray you will also go to Sea Kelp, because this is just the beginning!