This spring I noticed myself starting to slip again. A bad day turned into a bad week. A bad week turned into a bad month. A bad month turned into a bad quarter. I have been finding it difficult over the past several months to find enjoyment in life. Normally politics revs me up, and yet often I feel apathetic. Normally I love hanging out with friends, and yet I have felt like pushing away the people that I care about.
I am suffering from depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It’s difficult for me to admit that to a mass audience; before a month ago I had never admitted that to more than a handful of people at a time. This is not the first time that I have faced these struggles. My initiation with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts began while I was in high school. I initially had a hard time either recognizing what was wrong with me—let alone explaining it to others. In the early 90’s, I don’t recall mental health issues ever being discussed openly.
The closest I ever came to ending my life was while I was still in high school. I found myself weeping myself to sleep every night: begging God to end my misery. But it was in a moment of brutal honesty with God, that He supernaturally wrapped me in His arms of love, and gave me the hope I needed to carry on.
Over the years since then, I have had off and on battles with mental health issues. One silver lining out of these multiple struggles is that I have learned to recognize my own warning signs. In these bad moments, the thought of suicide often comes to mind. However, I usually know how to rationally talk my mind out of that being a desirable goal. I then reached a point a couple of months ago when I couldn’t logically and rationally come to a conclusion in my mind not to throw in the towel. I became upset, and felt defeated. The next morning in a time of my mental fog lifting, I concluded to myself that I needed to seek help again.
I reached out to a handful of close friends to explain what I was going through, and I made an appointment with my doctor to start treatment for my condition—treatment that has proven to help me several times before. The day I stepped out of my doctor’s office, I saw a sign (both literally and figuratively) on Oak Street. The sign read “Help us change the face of mental health”. I had the confirmation I needed that I was choosing to do the right thing for myself.
Since then, I heard God speaking to me through the Weakness sermon series at St. Peter’s Fireside. He was asking me to share my story with others: something that initially terrified me. The sermon entitled ‘Power Made Perfect In Weakness’ referenced God turning our weakness into strength. It’s amazing to think that God can use my weakness (depression and anxiety) as a gift! My current struggle isn’t being won overnight, but I have noticed small improvements in my mental health over the past couple of months. With God’s grace, support from friends and family, and treatment from my physician, I have faith that I will fully recover from this current ordeal. There is always hope for a better tomorrow.
With this being Mental Illness Awareness Week, now is the perfect time to share my story. If this post is taken positively by even one person, then I’m happy to have turned my weakness into a gift. If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, and/or suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone close to you. Share what you’re going through. Talk to a friend, family member, doctor, counselor, and/or pastor. Hope exists to get out of the rut you’re currently in. If you have someone close to you who you think may be struggling with mental health issues, talk to them. Ask them how they’re really doing. Be there for them.