I Choose To Fight: Getting Real About My Depression

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I wrote this post on Facebook in March of 2016, but was afraid to post it publicly on my blog. Now that my blog is up and running again, I've decided to add it so it didn't get "lost". I still read this post on the hard days, to remind myself to keep fighting. If you find yourself struggling with depression today, I pray it helps you find a reason to fight, too. It's not too late.

I wanted to share something deeply personal today, because at this point in my life, I feel the need to be real and transparent about my testimony. Some details have been left out because of sensitivity, but it is complete, nonetheless. How it will be taken, I'm not really sure. My hope is to explain a few things and/or maybe even encourage someone else, if not to aid in my own healing. I know it's long, but hopefully you'll stick with it and read it to the end.

I have struggled with depression my whole life. Thinking back, I vividly remember first contemplating suicide at a very young age -- as young as Rob is now, actually. I blamed myself for many of the atrocities that happened to me in my young life and I thoroughly believed that God hated me and I needed to be punished, by myself. As a teen, I began cutting -- not to end my life, necessarily, but more because I felt I deserved the pain. I also began hitting my face, closed and open fisted, until I was a bruised pulp on the floor. I starved myself because I hated my body and because the kids at school relentlessly tormented me about my weight. I was a pathological liar and I frequently stole from my family. By the time I had graduated high school, I had wronged every single person in my life and I was alone. My family had all but given up on me, my lies had finally cost me all of my friendships, and my romantic relationship at the time suddenly ended in heartbreak. It was a very low moment, as I didn't see any clear future for me. It was at this time that Matt came into my life and wanted to pursue a relationship. I had interest in him, but I admit when he asked me out, my initial thought was, "Sure. Why not? I don't have anything left to lose." He didn't instantly fix all my problems, but he was definitely a breath of fresh air.

Soon after, we married. Our first year, we were too poor to fight, but we made up for it during our second. I assumed by all the fighting that I had made a mistake; that he wasn't really "the one". Really, this was just me being selfish and prideful. I wanted a perfect relationship that suited MY needs. I attempted to seek out other relationships while still being married to him. Thankfully, no one was interested. I heard his heart crack that day I admitted it to him. Graciously, he forgave me somehow. I, however, did not.

Our third year, things were only slightly better and we were trying to have a baby, but to no avail. By the fourth year, it became a wedge between us, but we were too busy working to make ends meet to really notice. About half way through our fourth year, I told him I didn't love him anymore. I heard the crack go all the way that time. (You understand now why I say I don't deserve this man? Because I really don't.) A month or so later, we decided to go to church to try and mend things. I wasn't expecting much; I had been to church before and had been unimpressed. But this time was different. I heard the gospel for the very first time and it drove me to my knees. God saved me that very day and Matt soon after. About a month later, we found out we were pregnant with Robby.

Life seemed to be on the upswing. God had given me a new lease on life, my marriage was on the mend, and we had our baby, finally. All cured, or so I thought. The darkness has a funny way of seeping in without you realizing it. After Drew was born, I figured it was just "baby blues" and stress and it would right itself. But it never did. I proceeded to talk to a doctor, who only shoved heavy anti-depressants in my face and accused my husband of being "unloving" because he was against medication. I had tried medication before and it ended very, very poorly. He didn't want a "chemically happy" wife and I agreed with him.

I started to spiral out of control. I started publicly lashing out at people and hitting my face again, angry that I wasn't better. I wasn't a good wife, I wasn't a good mother, and I wasn't a good Christian. I assumed none of God's promises in the Bible were for me -- as if in some way I was different or some loop hole excluded me. I started contemplating suicide again. I had several episodes of ups and downs, each time being scooped up and nursed back to health by my husband. But soon it became too much for him and we sought counseling through our pastor. This was purely an act of desperation; I trust no one, even my own husband, fully. To let an "outsider" in was excruciating, but he was incredibly kind and loving about it. I will never forget that.

A busy schedule stopped me from going to our sessions and I figured I was "fixed enough" to at least function on a daily basis, but my demons soon took me down again. Matt had a grueling schedule at work and I rarely saw him. We were nothing but roommates and I was bitter for having to be a "single parent" all the time. It almost broke our marriage. I stopped going to church, due to the immense amount of anxiety it gave me. I felt as if I had to "put on a good face" and hide all the pain that was searing inside of me whenever I was there. If I didn't, people questioned me. "What's wrong? Didn't you say that last week?" was usually what I received. I didn't expect them to understand, but I began having panic attacks at even the thought of going. My anxiety began to spread to other areas of my life as well. I couldn't even go to the bank via drive thru without becoming a crying mess at the door.

My busy season with Busy Hands and the holidays kept me distracted through the end of last year, but the new year brought back the darkness with a vengeance. Sickness plagued our household for months and I became extremely depressed. Soon my demons crept in and I did little to fight them off. I was tired of fighting. I was tired of failing. I was tired of struggling just to get out of bed every day. I was tired of pretending I was okay. I gave up and gave in to the darkness. I only got out of bed on the days that I absolutely had to. I had stopped eating, stopped participating, and planned my suicide. I just didn't care anymore. I have never seen my husband cry as much as he has in the last month or so, begging me to live. It should have broken my heart, but I felt nothing. Struggling with the darkness for so many years had finally left me dead inside.

True to Matt fashion, he stubbornly, but lovingly pulled me up out of the pit and helped me back on to my feet. We began reading the Bible together in the evenings and started to be more transparent with each other . I felt God pushing me towards Matt in a way I had never experienced in our 14 years together. I have always been afraid that once I start trusting him too much, God will take him from me. Out of desperation, I have chosen to trust that He won't. I fully believe that we are not to trust men, but only God, completely, but I do feel God gave me Matt to keep me here and to heal me. He is my lifeline.

During this process of healing, Matt was inspired to support me and fight beside me in any manner he could. He became familiar with the semi-colon movement -- the wave of people tattooing semi-colons on their bodies in support of people who struggle with depression and/or suicide. The premise is that an author uses a semi-colon to merely pause for a moment, but keep going rather than stop. In the same way, a person who suffers from depression has moments where their life comes to a stop -- usually with thoughts of suicide -- but they choose to keep going instead. We both appreciated the sentiment, but this most recent episode spurred him into action. "Do you want to get a semi-colon tattoo? Both of us? You for encouragement and me in support of you?" he asked me out of the blue. I admit I was shocked. "Really?" I asked. He paused for a moment, thinking, "Yes. I want to do this. Together." We planned out our designs and visited a local tattoo shop for a quote and to book an appointment. Last night was that appointment. A dear friend watched the boys for us and we both got tattooed. Yes, it hurt. Poor Matt suffered greatly, but regretted nothing. "I did it for you," he says. I believe him.

We decided to incorporate the cross into our designs, because that is the one, seemly-obvious thing I tend to forget when my depression hits. God is always there. He loves me. His promises are for me. I need to turn to Him no matter how deep into it I am. Along with the semi-colon, its statement is simply this: God is the true Author of my story and that story isn't over yet. I know this may come across as extreme to some of you, but for me the reminder literally needed to be tattooed on my arm. It may save my life someday. It has breathed new life into me and Matt tells me there's a light in my eyes that he's never seen before. I know that I will struggle with this until God calls me home and I have only won the battle and not the war, but now I have my war paint on and I am ready to fight.

By the grace of God and the love of my family, I choose to fight for my life instead of end it.