Monday, September 10, 2018

Speak Up

I've gone back and forth about whether or not I would share this here.  Or if I should share it anywhere, really.  There is a delicate balance between being vulnerable and transparent and knowing when to stay silent.  But as Kris reminds me, writing is cathartic for me, this blog is a ministry and so here goes--maybe this is just for me, but maybe someone needs to know someone else understands.

Yesterday marked the start of National Suicide Prevention Week.  While I myself have never attempted suicide, I would be lying if I said that I haven't had those dark thoughts that take people down that path.

I've always maintained that if it were not for my kids, I might not be here today.  There were times when I felt so desperate and so low that I didn't want to exist anymore.  But I've had kids since I was 20, and it was always about them.  Not for the first time, I find myself reflecting on that.  God knew, I think, that I would struggle.  That I would need a reason beyond myself to live.  And while a lot of people judged us for having kids so quickly, and having so many, they were my lifeline in some of my darkest days.  They were my purpose when everything seemed bleak and I wasn't sure I wanted to go on any longer.  They kept me grounded when I couldn't find the strength to even turn to God.  I never wanted my kids to grow up without a mother.  That thought alone helped me put one foot in front of the other when I just wanted to lay down and stop fighting.

I've been fairly open about my struggles with depression, true.  But sometimes I have these thoughts that I don't really open up about, not even to my husband.  I am not sure if it is because they scare me, or I'm ashamed to admit it, or if I worry that those closest to me will think I just don't have enough faith.

I have had so many different thoughts swirling around in my head lately.  A few nights ago, Kris was on the receiving end of yet another one of my emotional meltdowns.  He usually weathers these really well.  But he was tired and I was a mess and his patience had run thin. It got heated and feeling desperate and certain of one thing I did feel, I told Kris that I was sad for him, because he didn't sign up for any of this.  In an attempt to diffuse the situation, Kris asked me what I was thinking about.  How could I even start to communicate any of it?  There were too many thoughts, none of them good, and I didn't know where to begin.  So I made a joke.  It eased the tension in the moment, but since then, the decision to admit what I was really thinking in that moment has been weighing on me.

Last week, on the drive to work, I had a full blown panic attack, the worst I've had in years.  My anxiety has been at an all-time high, and I think part of it is just due to the amount of pain I have been in and the lack of resolution.  At the beginning of August, I was supposed to get a Medial Ablation on the left side of my neck.  There were several mix ups, incompetency on the part of the doctor's office, and it was rescheduled (twice!) for August 29th.

While driving to the office, I couldn't breathe and I just started sobbing.  I realized that I just couldn't do it anymore. In that moment, the thought of faking it through another day was just too much.  I just couldn't face anyone.  I couldn't interact with people and try to be something I wasn't.  I just couldn't muster up enough of anything.

I'm so tired.

I'm so weary.

I'm so frustrated with where I am at in my life right now.

So, here goes.  These are the very real thoughts that were going through my head when Kris asked me what I was feeling the other night:

I don't want to live like this.
I'm a failure.
I'm a burden to my family and always will be.
Most days, I can't even do the simplest tasks.
My kids have had to grow up quickly and learn to do things that most moms still do for their kids.
I can't see a light at the end of this.
I don't want to be here.
I have nothing left to offer anyone.
Kris didn't sign up for this kind of life.
What kind of mother am I?
I'm a shell of the person I used to be.
I'm too young for this.

Even as they were all swirling about, I knew that they were lies.  But I wasn't sure how to even articulate them, let alone try to surrender them or find the truth.  And I certainly didn't know how to just not "feel" that way.  Surrendering your problems to God is easy to say, but most of the time, hard to actually do.  And when I am wrestling with my depression, my faith is shaky.  The truth is in my mind, but there is a disconnect between my mind and my heart.  Anyone who has experienced depression knows what I'm talking about.  You can KNOW something, but be unable to get your heart to line up with your head.  Sometimes just taking another breath is all you have the strength for.

At church yesterday, not surprising to me at all, I heard God speak to me through music.  We sang these words:  "Savior I come.  Quiet my soul."  The tears began to flow as I realized that the quieting of my soul is what I so desperately needed.  I realized in that moment that I had spent the last few months just trying to get through everything on my own.  It is no wonder that my soul was not quiet.  That my anxiety was higher than usual and my ability to deal with life had decreased.  This year is supposed to be about surrender.  But with everything that has happened over the last few months, I have struggled to let go of my fear of the unknown and let my soul be quieted by the only One who is capable of doing it.

As if to draw the point home, we also sang an old, old song from my high school youth group days, "Thy Word."  There is a verse in there that resonated with me and depicts how I've been living.  It says:

I will not forget your love for me
And yet, my heart forever is wandering

Yes, it is.  My heart is always wandering away, trying to do it on my own.  And in my own struggles with negative thoughts and dark imaginings, late last night my daughter came upstairs in tears because she thinks a friend is going to commit suicide.  She's been saying cryptic things, has made attempts in the past, lost a sister to suicide, and told another friend she was planning her suicide.

It really put things into perspective for me, with my own struggles.  Trying to help someone else helped me realize that there is always hope.  That has been the theme of this blog since I began writing it seven and a half years, and it is true today.  No matter what is going on, there is always hope.  I don't know what the outcome will be with her friend.  I can only pray that she gets the help she needs and that I do not have to try to help my child navigate through the death of a friend who gave up on living and fighting the darkness.

And while this situation opened my eyes to the bigger world of need around me, I am still struggling in my own darkness.  But I am aware of where I am at, where that thinking is headed, and where I want and need to be.  So I'll work on it and do what I need to do to get out of that funk and healthier mentally.

It's past time we talked openly about these things.  Speaking up about your own struggles might be exactly what someone needs to give them hope to hang on just one more minute.

There's a hand still holding me, even when I don't believe.

1 comment:

  1. Jamie, I hear you and I do understand and do not judge you. I am genetically predisposed to depression. My dad was bi-polar (in and out of institutions) and my mother had OCD. As a child, I did not think I would live beyond 13 as I planned my suicide in various ways. I tried talk therapy for many years, and eventually got some real help from a Christian counselor who used EMDR for my PTSD. However, the biggest help came from anti-depressants. Around age 50, I tried one and now am on 2. When I hear people say "just reach out and talk to someone," they DO NOT understand what happens in our minds. They do not understand the blackness that comes over a depressed person. I have come to recognize when I'm heading for depression and have devised ways to help myself. God knows these things about me. He doesn't judge. I have to repeat to myself, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Thank you for being brave enough to reach out to help others.