July 10, 2017

Have you ever found yourself completely tuned out until a friend or preacher starts telling a personal story? Its not just me. I watch people who are actually paying attention straighten up and pay closer attention. We crave stories. Even people who annoy me to pieces, I want to hear stories about their lives.

Margret and HA Rey

We watch and read lot of Curious George, or just "George" as we call it in our house. After a couple books I kept noticing Margret and HA Rey as the authors. Is this a man and wife childrens book writer/illustrator team? If so, thats real sweet and cute. So then one day I remembered to google it after months of wanting to.

Y'all. What a story. Hans grew up next to the zoo in Hamburg, Germany. They first met at Margaret's sister's 16th birthday party. Then later meet again in Brazil while Hans is selling bathtubs. They get married and move to Paris and escape hours before the Nazis take it over on HOMEMADE bicycles. He draws and she writes. "
They wrote seven stories in all, with Hans mainly doing the illustrations and Margret working mostly on the stories, though they both admitted to sharing the work and cooperating fully in every stage of development." How precious are these people. (1)

Yesterday, a friend asked me to write down my story. Well the part about depression... so here it goes. 

I started getting sad when I was about 14. No real reason. Just couldn't get myself out of the funk. It would come and go, I'd be great for weeks then inconsolable in my bed, or just blankly nothing at all. I went to a counselor who said that I "lacked joy." Not extremely helpful for the amount of money it cost for her to tell me that. Also I may have been pre-occupied with the fear that she was going to make me talk or role play with puppets. I would sit there and stare at the basket of them and prepare what I would say if she asked me to. One time she picked one up, just to move it, but I almost died in that giant puffy floral chair. I was 16 I think. 

Fast forward to college. I fell apart pretty hard. I would go to the big christian weekly event (can't even remember the name) and watch people interact and smile and enjoy and I COULD NOT. I would come late and leave early to miss the social aspect of it. Then I would get in my car and cry my eyes out about how alone I was. I went to a counselor who told me I didn't know who I was. I disagreed. So I moved colleges, from Tech to Texas State. Moving didn't fix anything. I fell apart harder. So hard in fact I would label it my "rock bottom." It was the realization that I was helpless to get myself out of the sadness, despite my best efforts. 

I came home one weekend and talked with a friend who was dabbling in some kind of drug or another. I asked him if he was addicted. He said yes but that it was the same as my addiction to being sad. WHAT?! Who would choose this?! But he was right. It had been so long that being sad was my comfort zone. Its where I knew how to operate and I didn't hate all the aspects of it either. I could write for hours. My creative mind was opened full wide in the midst of it. I later read about how this is a thing. Depression and creativity. Even my beloved Counting Crows would write their best songs in the pit. "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness" -Gotye... So real. 

Then some things hit SO HARD from out of nowhere. Things that are true, and are the exact thing you needed to hear, though you didn't know you needed to hear it. I watched the movie "Proof" with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. A story of math geniuses who also suffer from mental illness. Dad genius asks daughter genius "How many days have you lost?" (to her mental illness) She knew the number. How many days had I lost? How many more was I going to lose? That question hung in the air, illuminated, repeating itself in my mind. "How many days have you lost?"  

When I try to describe depression this is usually what I describe. Take an egg carton full of eggs. They all fit perfectly into their little "nests." Those eggs are named "friends" "family" "school" "faith" "church" etc. Then, one by one those "eggs" that you KNOW fit in the carton, no longer fit. Then you start thinking about those "eggs." Well this is what I thought about my ________ but if it doesn't fit anymore maybe I'm wrong and what I thought isn't true. You stop knowing what is real or made up in your despair. You end up with an empty carton, and giant gooey mess on the floor that you're trying to put back together. But you can't put a broken egg back together. You have to start over and get new eggs. 

"I can't get myself out of this. Help me, make me better" That was my prayer. I had moved back to Lubbock for the spring semester of my sophomore year. I found a room for rent in Tech Terrace where I had my own bathroom and got to roll the dishwasher to the sink to hook it up to run it. And it was there that the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, began to guide me out of depression. "Take every thought captive" (2 Corinthians 10:5) I didn't realize how often my thoughts were a spiral of terrible things. So I started to catch myself. Stop the spiral. I couldn't trust my thoughts so I needed something I KNEW was true. The word of God. I would wake up, pray, and read a scripture, TRUTH, out loud. I can still see the morning sun rays through the blinds in my musty room. Truth hanging in the air, illuminated, repeating itself in my mid. 

"I have a plan for you" Jeremiah 29:11
"I will heal the broken hearted" Psalm 147:3
"I am near to those who are crushed in spirit" Psalm 34:18
"I will not leave you or forsake you " Hebrews 13:5
"The Lord will fight for you, just be still" Exodus 14:14
More verses like this.

Honestly, after this semester of replacing lies with truth I was better. It would still hit me in waves but not like before. I got married in 2010 and had a really hard year of depression, largely in part to birth control making me out of my mind (more on this in a future post). But bless Rob, we made it through. I found a counselor who was absolutely precious and called by God to be a counselor who spoke so much truth into my life. 

Depression has a way of making you very self-centered. Not because you want to be but because at any given moment you are fighting so hard not to fall apart.  

I share this because I was asked to, and because its not all my story but the Lord's story of healing. And because I can share it without shame or embarrassment, I know that healing has taken place. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

We are the sum of our stories. Stories are our navigation of hope. Share your story to a friend or a counselor. Someone else may need it, maybe you just need to hear yourself say it out loud... you may find healing as the words come out of "hiding" into the light. 



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