I fail daily at alone time and spending time with God. I try to fill up every second of my day with something. Work, serving at church, talking on the phone whenever I’m alone, time with friends, video games, youtube…anything to keep me from being alone with my thoughts. I don’t intentionally take that alone time seriously until I am at my breaking point and can barely function.
That is when I escape to the lake for at least half an hour of just silence and staring out at the water. Usually, if I am at the lake it means things are going pretty terribly. I can’t stand being alone with myself, my depression is worsening, and I am allowing my anxiety to control my life. I shouldn’t let it get to the point where I’m not functioning.
My mom wakes up early every morning and has her intentional coffee time with God. She has been doing this every morning for as long as I can remember. It sets the tone for her day and her interactions with everyone around her. She quietly has her coffee, reads her Bible, journals, and talks to God. I’m not saying I am going to start doing that, because I also need as much sleep as I can get for my own mental health…but I need to change how I spend every second of my day. I need to be setting the tone for my day in a healthy way that benefits myself and my relationship with the Lord.
Even Jesus took time away from people to pray. I need to start being more like Jesus.
Josh’s lesson with the youth praise team, as well as an in-depth conversation with one of the member’s of the praise team afterwards, inspired this blog post. I’m sure you’ve seen the Skit Guy’s video God’s Chisel – if you have not here is the link.
The video portrays God taking a chisel to a guy who is struggling with his sins…and he isn’t exactly welcoming the changes to his life. The changes, the cutting out sin, the moving on from our old ways and living for God…it’s a process that is filled with mourning and pain. Giving up control isn’t easy. Quitting sins, allowing God to transform us, it isn’t easy. We cling to our sins, they can be a source of stress relief, and they can be comforting, and feel familiar.
When we actually look at ourselves and fail to see God’s craftsmanship it can be a lonely place. Hiding away completely ashamed of ourselves is lonely. We are either going away from God or closer to Him. There is no standing still. There is no lukewarm. So when we find comfort in our sins, in attempting to control our own lives instead of turning from our sins and living for God…we are moving away from Him.
I should rewatch that video each week simply for the intense and much-needed conviction it brings on.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God. Romans 12:2
If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes. Deuteronomy 30:16
Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Trigger Warning: Suicide
The shame I hold onto about this part of my testimony is heavy and covered in guilt. But the more I celebrate my life, the more I want to open up about this so that hopefully God can use my ashes for His beautiful purpose.
Here I sit at Lake Nockamixon, it’s 32 degrees and extremely windy, but the sun is shining on my tear soaked face, the seagulls are singing, and Rescue by Lauren Daigle is playing in my ears.
When I was 20 I tried to kill myself.
I wanted to end it. End everything. End the pain and the depression and the anxiety. End the frustration. End the never ending struggle. But more than that I would have ended moments like this one. Sunshine on my face looking out over the lake. I would have ended coffee dates with my mom. I would have ended heart to heart talks with my dad. I would have never seen my brother graduate college as valedictorian. I never would have poured into my youth kids who mean the absolute world to me. I would have ended the possibility of ever meeting Josh and beginning this immaculately designed chapter of my life. I would have ended any possibility of the Lord using me for His purpose. In the blink of an eye I would have ended every single thing that I hold so valuable.
I was desperate and numb and in searing pain all at once and I thought my only option was to kill myself. I thought the only option was to give up. To give up ever having a future. As I write this I vividly remember the amount of emotional and physical and spiritual pain I was in. I remember throwing myself on my bedroom floor shaking uncontrollably, sobbing and screaming for God to take the pain away, take away the pain from my disease, take away my depression and anxiety. I was shrieking. I was done. I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t imagine continuing to live one more second.
I am grateful for the nurses and doctors that took care of me at the hospital that night and the next day. I am grateful for the security guard that was posted at my door and didn’t take his eyes off me. I am grateful to the nurse filled with compassion and warmth who didn’t treat me like an insane person, she kept me company and brought me heated blankets, I don’t remember her name but I am grateful to her for treating me like a person. I am grateful for the support from my coordinator and therapists. I am grateful to my mom who never ceased praying, never ceased crying out to God, even in the midst of her agony, and the fear of losing me. She never ceased praying. She was my rock when I couldn’t stand on my own. She fought for me when I couldn’t care less.
Suicide doesn’t just end the bad stuff, it doesn’t just end the pain. In fact it causes pain, intense unmeasurable amounts of pain. Suicide ends all of the good things and any good thing that’s to come. It ends more than just a life. Praise the Lord I am alive. I am experiencing what it means to actually be alive. I will not let my depression and anxiety win. This will not steal my joy. I refuse to fall victim to my mental illness.
I have way too much to live for.
It’s extremely difficult to stop myself in the middle of an anxiety attack and pray. I struggle with giving my worries to the Lord. Some verses I have been trying to have ready for when I can’t breathe and my brain is going to explode are:
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.
Romans 8:18 The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
These are all verses I have memorized and know I need to be meditating on when I feel the anxiety rising…but I don’t. I know I need to cry out to God and just ask Him to calm my mind and I can’t. It’s so exhausting. It’s mentally draining to cling to the control and deal with the anxiety.
I’m not a huge fan of the New Year’s resolutions, I’m one of those people who sees it as just a new year…not anything special. But I really hope in 2019 my anxiety gets under control. Am I doing anything to make that happen? Yes. I am spending more time in the Word, intentionally reading and meditating, and talking to God about my control/anxiety issues. Am I doing it as much as I should be? No. I’m also going to start seeing a therapist and psychiatrist and get my medication under control. So there’s that.
Now to just get through this last week of work that’s causing me a lot of stress…
Depression sucks. Depression and anxiety really sucks. It’s easy for me to go days without showering and without having the energy to get out of bed. The anxiety is screaming rage at me that my whole world is going to implode while I’m going through my depressive periods.
There are days where getting out of bed is my proudest achievement. And then there are days I wake up early, run a few miles, eat clean, clean my room, do laundry, walk the dog, shower, get errands done, and excel at work.
There’s really no in between. So I live for the days where I’m productive and driven. They’re not as exhausting as the ones where I can’t move and my brain is screaming with anxiety because I haven’t moved.
There have been two songs swimming through my brain for the past two weeks. Usually when I am stressed out I neglect my time with God in a huge way, which causes more stress! I think my brain knows this so it plays two songs on repeat. Even If by Mercy Me, and Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. Two powerful songs. Encouraging. Uplifting. And much needed.
Yesterday I had a breakdown. I was thinking about everything all at once and I couldn’t breathe. My chest was weighed down and my breathing was panicky. One line kept playing through my brain louder than my doom filled thoughts, they say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain, well good thing a little faith is all I have.
I opened Spotify and put the song on repeat. Within five seconds I was sobbing. Weeks of pent up bitterness and anxiety and frustration and pain flooded out of me as I tried to sing the words too. I don’t think my word were audible at all but I know He heard them loud and clear.
Like the prodigal son returning to his fathers arms I clung to those lyrics like I was holding onto the Lord with all the strength I had left in me. I struggle to hold steadfast in my faith when the waves are crashing down all around me. But this song reminds me He has me covered, even if things don’t go my way, even if the struggles endure, He has me.
There is $0.41 in my bank account right now.
I’m at my wits end. It’s been one thing after another. It’s the never ending medical bills. The having to be out of work for a week because I got my neck cut open. It’s the two car payments. It’s the client telling me to take the week off. It’s the threat that I’m going to be sued by the guy who hit me and that I should lawyer up. It’s taking care of everyone else all day long nonstop and then coming home and sitting in a room where I’m surrounded by dirty laundry and mugs that need to be washed. It’s the hallow feeling inside. The lump in my throat. The anxiety and the depression. It’s nothing yet it’s everything at once.
I’m shaking and terrified. I’m on an island of quick sand sinking faster and faster as gigantic scary waves bigger than life come at me from all sides. Even if someone came to rescue me in a helicopter with a long rope I don’t know if I’d grab on. I’m at that point where I’d be okay if everything swallowed me alive because I’m so exhausted I don’t know how I can keep doing this.
Everything was going so well. I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck for the first time in years. I quit my terrible job and started a company where I was the boss. I had an awesome savings account built up. I was driving a nice car – my first car – my baby. I was feeling okay with life for the first time in a very long time. And then everything hit at once. Literally and figuratively. It was an explosion of sheer panic and nervous laughter.
The past six months have been pain on top of agony on top of disaster. I don’t know how to fix it. I’m in constant panic mode. I’m trying to please everyone yet I’m sinking further and further into a depression I’m not so sure I will be able to get out of this time.
And trust me…I know…cry out to God and He will hold me and comfort me. But I’m too embarrassed to even walk towards Him right now. I’m too weak to try to fix my faith walk. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to go. My parents and my brother have their own struggles right now without me crawling to them asking them for whatever help they could offer. And it’s not their fault. They each have their own island, their own quick sand, their own huge scary waves.
So I will sit here surrounded by dirty laundry and mugs that need to be washed pondering why I can’t just take control of life and handle things like an adult. And I will cry. And hyperventilate. And hope I will be able to fall asleep despite the fight going on inside of me.
Sleep and I have a love hate relationship. Most nights I need to take medication in order to fall asleep or get more than a few hours of restless sleep. But when I’m not on my meds, it’s easy to allow the depression and anxiety to take over my sleep schedule. There is no normal. It’s either no sleep at all, or too much sleep. I can easily sleep for twelve hours and still be completely exhausted the next day.
Last night I slept from 11pm-2am thanks to the dogs barking non stop at something that was trying to get into the chicken coup. I’m a zombie today. Chugging the coffee…becoming one with the coffee. So excuse me if I seem entirely incoherent. It’s because I am.
Here’s to hoping I feel like a human again sometime today!