Part I of III.
The most powerful thing about your story is that no one can change it or take it away from you. It is wholly and completely yours. Today, I want to share with you how this all began and why I had the desire to share my story. I’m going to break it up over several blogs, so it’ll be easier to digest so bear with me. It’s a pretty scary thing when I really start to think about it, so I don’t. (haha, not exactly an emotionally mature response I know.) I sit here, restored and renewed, but with a work in progress sign hanging around my neck. I come before you today humbled, confident, full of joy but at the same time broken, damaged and cautious of what lies ahead.
This is my reality. The reality of living with depression and anxiety.
My desire to share my story and give others hope is because of the lack of hope I have found in this world, for someone struggling with anxiety and depression. For me, my story really began 26 years ago when my own father took his life at the age of 44 years old. My father was an amazing godly man, one who I remember reading his Bible every day, leading Bible Studies, a deacon in his church, volunteering with the youth group and loving our family well. We didn’t have a lot but I knew every day how much my parents loved me. I was only 12 years old when my father took his life, and what I didn’t realize until later was that my father was waging a war against anxiety and depression. In the last months of his life I saw his personality change and light in his eye grow dim. I saw the angst and frustration that the depression caused my mother and the struggles it brought my family. I was way too young to truly understand what was happening. I was so confused by my dad’s decision especially for the fact that my dad was doing all the “right” things. He was on meds, meeting with our pastor, meeting with a deacon as well as receiving Christian counseling. I think this planted a seed for me. I was confused and so was the church about my father’s decision. I also experienced such horrible judgment most of which came from inside the church. The next 6 years looked very different for me. After my father’s death, I lost both grandfather’s and a grandmother and watched our family struggle, like I had never seen before. We struggled in every aspect imaginable, financially, spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. My mom was now on her own to raise me, with no financial cushion, and no life insurance we had to start at the bottom and work our way through life as a completely new family for a reason that made no sense.
Looking back at my life from that point on I can see how the seeds of depression had already begun growing and how I probably should’ve been on antidepressants all the way through high school. My response to what happened to me was normal considering the gravity of how much my life had changed, but really I wasn’t processing anything and I managed to stuff it all down and carry on. I graduated high school applied to one school, Baylor and was headed off to college.
I was definitely ready to leave Temple, the irony was that I only went about 30 miles away to Waco. This was the beginning of the internal conflict that was brewing inside of me about being close to my mom, but wanting to be completely away from my small town, questioning my faith, wondering where God was in all of this, but at the same time feeling as though He was the only one with the answers. Going to college and especially a Baptist school where everyone was a Christian left a sour taste in my mouth. I was surrounded by people who really had never experienced any trials or hardships and I felt completely isolated and alone. My friends were people who had a mom and a dad, a trust fund, and a career path. I realized I went to school because that was what you were supposed to do after college, but I really had no idea what I wanted to do, but just knew I wanted to be away and be on my own. College was a struggle and I had no business being there. I am sure that I spent my entire college career depressed and unable to function normally. Things hit rock bottom when I wasn’t going to class, and completely cut off all contact with my mom. My mom had to break in my apartment and confront me, she knew I was depressed and I can only imagine the fear and anger she was going through. Here I was a student, super involved, well rounded, someone who thrived, and now in college, I was failing my classes, unable to study and involved in pretty much nothing. My mom brought me home forced me on meds, and I began to realize that I too had depression and I had no idea what that meant for me.