So I’m going to share about depression. This is going to be a long one.
In 2010 I experienced depression that lasted over ten months. It got so bad my personality changed. That July, I got about 8 or 9 pills into an overdose before I changed my mind. Afterwards I felt no relief in being alive, I just felt stupid.
I spent most of 2011 aimless and numb, questioning if God intended me for heaven. I set aside my Bible and its earnest assurances because I felt God’s Spirit had left me and those beautiful promises no longer applied to me.
In fall 2012 I was hit with anxiety. I had panic attacks and my body started acting up. I thought something had to be physically wrong, but after seeing doctors and getting bloodwork, everything checked out. The problem was in my head. I ran every morning for a month, in the rain and gray dawn, crying out to God and feeling like I was shouting into a void.
That winter I went to Taiwan to see relatives, first by myself, and then joined by family. During that time, God opened his hand. He quietly assured me of my salvation, he gently healed my body and healed my heart. My sister said it was the happiest she’d seen me in three years. She said she could see the old me again.
2013 was a rollercoaster. I had never relied on God so much every day, I had never prayed so hard and so much, and honestly, I had never loved him so DESPERATELY. I prayed throughout the day because he was ALL I HAD to fight the panic. But somewhere inside I felt scared, like God was hungry for my desperation.
This year I bottomed out. Anxiety was replaced by complete loss of will. It was such sweet relief to not feel anxiety that I stopped praying, spending days in bed, insulated by apathy. The most hopeful I felt was when I scheduled my suicide, giving myself a perfect six months and feeling invigorated with purpose.
I lost weight, dropping from 115 to 95. I went days without showering or going anywhere.
In June I started taking a break from church because there I felt most distressed. And I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone because most people just aren’t equipped to handle that. And they shouldn’t be. Suicide is NEVER somebody else’s responsibility, no one is responsible for whether their friend lives or dies. Also I have a compulsive need to make others happy. And I hate sharing.
My personality is a happy one and people have told me they can’t imagine me crying, upset, or even annoyed, anything less than jolly.
I guess I am a happy person. I’m just a happy person who has depression haha. Think of it an athlete who’s injured.
Right before my birthday, at my lowest point, my family intervened and my sister marched me to the psychiatrist where for the first time I confessed my plan, though I tried to do so as nonchalantly as possible after the counselor pressed me about any plans to end my life. They assessed me as high risk and set me up with a psychiatrist and therapist.
Honestly I felt super lame, sitting there with my clipboard of mental illness checklists, and I felt so silly like, look at me, I was obviously fine, I had my hair nice and makeup and heels and I was friendly and sociable. But for the first time, a doctor’s assessment matched what I’d been experiencing. I WAS sick.
And I still am. That’s why I’m sharing this, because all too often Christians censor their experiences because we don’t know how to tell people “I am a mess RIGHT NOW and there’s not much I can do about it and nothing YOU can do except pray, and that may not even help for weeks or months or years.” We prefer to share once everything is resolved.
Right now, I am taking things day by day. Sometimes I skip appointments because I can’t get out of bed. I’ve become the biggest flake ever. I’m even flaking on my medication because I didn’t get around to picking up the refill last week, and I am definitely feeling that today.
But this weekend God reminded me powerfully of his love for me. It hit me as I was sharing my testimony with a friend, and it occurred to me how God has worked throughout this past year to literally save my life.
Back in April, I planned my suicide for Saturday, October 4.
Between April and October, God slowly began working to save me. Healing my heart through the love and support of my family, through a good doctor, through opening up to trusted friends and confidants, opening up to my pastor, through friends checking in on me, through all these little things, through bringing people into my life at just the right time, including my aunt who reached out to me out of the blue and gave me the opportunity to ask her to disciple me (yes I’m being discipled now) and someone I came to enjoy spending time with (no I’m not in a relationship) who on October 4, instead of ending my life, I was out eating a delicious dinner and watching a movie with a tub of popcorn. God used people, circumstances, and his own persistent gentle touch to literally save my life on Oct 4.
A week ago I should have been dead. But God saved me because he loves me. And he wants me to live, not because he’s hungry for my desperation but because I’m precious to him. Using the most unexpected ways he told me “Joyce you are precious to me.”
I don’t know if depression will ever go away. But I know God’s given me a testimony I need to share.
If my experience speaks to anyone reading this, know that you’re not alone, depression is not your fault, and you are precious and loved. Give of yourself to those you trust and show kindness to those you don’t. It’s good for you.
You don’t have to love everyone or even like anyone but keep an open heart and cherish every reminder that God loves you. We have wholeness in God, and in him we find hope and love.
I am so weak but God is so good.