Lately, I’ve been struggling with depression, generalized anxiety disorder and emotional traumatic stress disorder. It’s strange to admit this out loud because the truth is, I’ve been battling with mental health for years. It’s so natural that it just comes and goes like the quarterly four seasons of winter, summer, spring, and autumn. Mental health has been a part of my daily playbook of life, so much so that I’ve been a subscriber since the early age of 12, or at least that’s the earliest age that I can remember seeing a therapist / school counselor. I can recall being sad prior to that age, due to my childhood experiences that I won’t get into at this time, but I’m unsure if I was receiving psychological treatment for those issues back then. I know from preteen on, I’ve been seeking and receiving counseling ever since. It’s an ongoing battle with mental health that I desperately desire to break free from.
I’m surprised my anxiety is even allowing me to be so candid about all of this. I guess you can say this is the Holy Spirit giving me the strength and courage needed to be so transparent and honest in order to get through writing this post. For a few weeks now, I’ve been bottling up my inner feelings, keeping my depression to myself, trying not to bleed my true pain onto others, and slightly embarrassed to admit that I, a Christian woman, did not wish to continue living anymore. I was ready to be with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When I would open up even a little about what’s going on with a part of my life, like my health, I’d receive comments like, “Talking to you just makes me sad,” and, “I just don’t know how to help you,” and, “You need to do more to overcome the coronavirus and the rest of your health problems. You’re not trying hard enough.” These comments left me feeling even more depressed, hurt, frustrated at the lack of empathy, compassion and feeling that no one truly understands my plight nor my fight at trying everything I possibly could to overcome everything I was going through. How could they understand me? They haven’t lived my life. They haven’t been through what I’ve gone through. They haven’t suffered what I’ve endured. They haven’t trifled with the destruction tornado of life that I’ve endured over the past six (6) years. Nor have they just experienced the second near death experience I’ve suffered through this year alone, the first being a surgery to try to remove a tumor in February that went wrong, and the second being when I contracted the coronavirus and double pneumonia in both lungs in May. So, #SorryNotSorry that I’m having a tough time recovering not only from the symptoms of contracting the coronavirus, but also the psychological trauma of having almost lost my life twice in less than six months! Again, no one cares, understands, nor has the mental capacity to deal with ALL that I’ve endured…and how could they? They haven’t walked an inch, let alone a mile in my shoes…and that’s not even half of my story. I’m just only sharing a piece of the pie for today.
So, as I’ve continued to struggle with my mental health issues, my therapist encouraged me to try to reach out to members of my “support group” this week and weekend for some help in coping, especially as we come up on the six (6) year anniversary of my late and dearly departed grandmother’s death tomorrow, August 24th. I told her I wasn’t going to reach out to anyone anymore because I wasn’t feeling supported as I once did. Due to my own depressive feelings, and the few responses I’d received, I was beginning to feel like a burden to those around me. Clearly, my life was baggage to others, and I did not matter to them anymore. I tried to stop eating because food didn’t taste the same to me. It wasn’t enjoyable. I didn’t like cooking anymore, which was something that I once loved to do. One night I even cried out to God that I wanted to come home. I just don’t care about living in this world anymore! There’s nothing that really excites me or gets me going. I’m tired of being sick. I’m done with doctors and hospital trips, and tests, and still not getting better. I’m tired of all this pain I’m in. I’m tired of the daily headache and heartache endured by my surroundings. There’s so much discourse and disconnect in the world that I just lie in bed and cry for Jesus to come now! I’ve grown to have a strong distrust and dislike for a lot of the people that’s in the world we live in. Lord, I just want OUT!!!!
So, through my depressed, anxious, defeated, borderline angry state of mind, and still not wanting to reach out to anyone except my therapist, one of the members of my “support group” reached out to me. I believe God designed it that way for she invited me to the church’s prayer line, which was a day of prayer over the phone. Now to be honest, at first when I received her message and email, I read it and returned to watching my film. Even though I study the Bible night and day, seeking a word from God and trying to further my connection with Him, at that moment, I just did not feel like calling in to prayer. Did I need it? Yes! Did I feel like hearing prayer at that time? No! So, I did what my flesh wanted to do. I went back to watching my film. That was so unlike me. Usually, I’m all for anything about Jesus Christ: whether that be a conversation, bible verse, video, text, play, book, whatever; but at that moment, I just did not want to be bothered. When I finally decided to call in at the last hour of the prayer line, it seemed I was right on time. There were two callers who spoke words of encouragement that stood out to me. Their names were Revered Colyer and Deaconness Blue, and they both touched on the coronavirus, mental health and about faith saying things like: “You are not alone!” “I know you feel like giving up but don’t give up because the fight is not over!” “God has a plan for those of us who will push through and believe in Him!” “When this is all over, there’s a purpose and a plan for it all, and you’ll understand why you had to go through this season,” and that “God is not surprised by any of this. He knew all of this was going to happen. He already knows what’s going to happen in each of our lives. There’s going to be a revival coming after this. Just hold on!” While other callers may have mentioned bits and pieces of those topics, hearing their words spoke volumes and pierced my heart. Tears came streaming down my face like waterfalls as I listened in silence. As I went to unmute my phone, trying to thank them for their words and to share what I’d been going through, when I tried to speak, words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. It was as if I suddenly became mute like Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. So, I sat in silence listening and crying as the prayers and encouragement poured out over the prayer line. After receiving the encouragement from Reverend Colyer and Deaconness Blue last night, I was able to sleep peacefully without crying myself to sleep.
After Saturday’s evening of events, I woke up this morning at 7am ready to receive a word from God. I picked up my phone, opened up my Bible app, read a few scriptures and streamed an early morning service on YouTube. The sermon was by Pastor John Gray and it was called, “The Missing Piece.” This message was right on point for it spoke about a good deal of what’s been going on in my life, and it felt like a continuation from yesterday’s conversation. It was as if he had been on the prayer line with us. With the heavy weight of depression sinking in like a wormhole, and my anxiety levels rising higher than The Burj Khalifa, I’ve been feeling a “piece” of me had been missing lately. Although I’d continued my daily and nightly routine of studying my bible and crying out in prayer, I still felt alone. There was some “piece” missing. That “piece” of the puzzle that passes all understanding seemed to had left me… or at least that’s what I was being led to believe. I was beginning to believe that I was on my own, that God had abandoned me and that missing “piece” of the puzzle was long gone. I had started believing that I had no PEACE in my life!
The struggles in my mind were engulfing me, the drama in my life and household was entangling me and beginning to choke out my heart, stealing my joy, and clouding out God’s peace that He not only promised me, but set aside just for me. I couldn’t see that The Lord was still right there beside me. I thought He left me. I thought I was all alone. I know I should’ve known better because I’ve read the scripture a hundred times that says that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), but when you’ve been suffering from mental illness as long as I have, some times those scriptures become drowned out by the attacks of the enemy. When life gets you down, in those times, those scriptures feel like the enemy is winning, and it appears that God is just letting him win. However, Jesus Christ himself taught us through his life: to walk in community, trust in Him and have faith in God that He will supply all of our needs. That’s why He had twelve (12) disciples and performed many miracles, including calming the storm when He (Christ) and the disciples were on a boat sailing across a lake. That’s why He told us to love one another as we love ourselves. We aren’t meant to do this life alone. We are meant to share in one’s burdens.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.””
(John 13:34-35 NLT)
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”
Galatians 6:2-3 NLT
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble… A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 NLT)
With that in mind, the lesson I was reminded of yesterday was that having community is important. Surrounding yourself with the right people who will support you, uplift you, encourage you, pray for you and with you, protect you, be there for you when you need them to, as well as share your burdens with you like the Bible says is extremely important to your developmental state. You can’t do this life on your own! You need others to help you. Seek God first and let Him guide you towards the right set of people who can help you get through this thing called life. As we all trod through this life, let’s keep in mind that everyone has been through something. Learn to see the real them. Learn to have compassion and empathy. See the whole picture when you look at them. See them for who they are and not for who they are today. See them for the picture that’s on the puzzle box, and not the jumbled up pieces that’s in the jigsaw that has to be put back together.
We all have “baggage!” Nobody’s perfect! We all have a story to tell. We all have wounds to bare. We all have scars that need healing. We all have been bruised in some way, shape, form, fashion or time. Maybe yours have already been healed, mines have not. So, allow me some grace as I get it together. As you do so, allow someone else you may pass by on your journey through life some more grace as well. Remember, Jesus died for your sins too. When He did so, God poured out the same amount of grace to you, as He did to me. So, don’t judge us who are still broken. Pray for us. We are doing our best. To those that are in this struggle with me battling through mental health, I see you. You are not alone. I’m praying for us all to get through this battle. Every day it’s a struggle. The devil wants us to end it all, but clearly, as you see with my own story (if you can’t see it in your own life) God has the final say! He clearly has more life for us to live, which means He must have a purpose for us to play in His Kingdom. I don’t know what your purpose is. That’s between you and The Lord to find out. Seek Him and He’ll tell you, just as He told me mines. Just know that, as His word declares, We are all in this together! Take care and be at PEACE!!!
Sincerely with love,
Travel photography by IG user: @christofs70