I was making dinner, chopping vegetables and thought, I should just slit my wrists, since I'm holding the knife anyway. Then, I'm sure everyone thinks that when they chop carrots, right?
In that darkest state of mind, I believed my situation was hopeless and there was no way out. To me, in that state, it made perfect sense to slit my wrists while chopping carrots. I was certain that everyone thought this while making dinner and it was a perfectly “normal” thought process. (for the record, NO, it's NOT "normal") My “truth” that I was living, was one of despair. My physical body ached, my heart ached and my mind ached. My “truth” was also wrapped in my circumstances. I fantasized “if only” often. If only things were different, If only I had made different choices, If only this or that...then I could feel differently.
It was after I had my second child, a child I had wanted for so long and was so excited to have. I began to realize I didn't feel right. I started researching 'depression' and it all made sense. Before I could get to a doctor to inquire about anti-depressants, I was pregnant with my third child. I spoke to my doctor and we agreed to reevaluate how I felt after baby was born. The natural hormones from pregnancy seemed to help a little bit but not much. Everything felt so hard every day.
I quickly spiraled downward emotionally after her birth. Racing thoughts, the whole slit wrists ideas while chopping carrots, the body aches and unlike my usual self--I was emotionally out of control.
"Do you have a plan on how you would kill yourself?" the psychiatrist asked me.
The tears started flowing and I knew this was a trick question but wasn't sure exactly what answer I should give. I didn't think the 'chopping carrots' thoughts could be considered a 'plan' as much as an 'idea'. I did feel desperate though and was willing to tell this male stranger anything he wanted to hear if he promised to help me. At the same time, I was afraid a 'yes' answer would lead me straight to being 'committed'.
"No," I answered, looking down and sniffling.
I felt like an utter and complete failure as a human being and took home my new prescription.
The anti-depressants silenced the racing thoughts and calmed my spirit. My emotions didn't go numb and my problems didn't go away. I could think clearer and instead of feeling my entire life was hopeless, suddenly I knew it wasn't. It was amazing!!!
With this new level of clear thinking I researched depression even more. I took a hard look at my life. I had always been predominantly in emotional control of myself. Happiness was an elusive idea that I never understood. I watched other children open birthday gifts and literally squeal with delight over gifts and presents, as if every gift was 'exactly' what they wanted! When I opened gifts, I smiled and said thank you. I wanted to say it was the best gift ever but I honestly didn't know how to express something I'd never felt. If you asked me how I felt, I didn't know. I knew the people around me wanted me to say I was 'happy' but I didn't know what that was or how it was supposed to feel for me to accurately say I felt it.
Being an emotional robot works great in moments of crisis. Wake up to a fire in your living room? Don't panic. Ignore panicked husband. Close hall way door to prevent smoke and fire from spreading. Climb on chair near flaming piano. Remove items away from flame. Get baking soda-where is it?-in the bathroom. Run to bathroom and grab baking soda. Douse flames with baking soda. Fire's out!
Being a robot also works well to hide those deeply painful moments within your heart. Been abandoned? Been rejected? No problem--didn't affect me one bit. Nope, I feel fine. I don't need to talk about it, think about it or feel anything more than indifferent about it. HA!
This God that loves me? Well, I don't feel that love but I believe it. I believe it as much as I can, having never felt it or experienced any proof of it's existence. Actually, I don't feel anything, I think thoughts I don't feel feelings. Feelings are for the weak.
At least they were until the great depression of my life. The pregnancies might have triggered the worst episode but I realized it had always been there. It had even been a regular member of my family for generations; my grandmother displayed depressive behaviors, my mother was clinically depressed and now here I was.
Beyond the medications, I worked on finding preventive measures: exercise, healthy eating, sunshine and vitamins.
Crisis hit, my grandmother died and less than six months later my mother died. I thought for sure that would do me in. It didn't. I was no longer on the prescriptions but had been preparing myself mentally and emotionally to accept my emotions and gave myself permission to feel them. Much of the 'stoic me' served me well during that time too. However, the emotions I did feel were overwhelming but I did not drown in them. I felt shock, deep sadness, loss...grief! I went through the normal variety of emotions and the process of grief for the first time in my life.
I could still laugh and smile and enjoy each day. I was no longer living under a black cloud but basking in the freedom that the sunshine gives.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Phil 4:8
I can clearly look back now with out the lens of depression and see how mistaken I was in my own identity. The idea that emotions make one weak or appear to be weak...and a myriad of other 'mistaken' identities I was carrying around. I had to search hard and deep into God's word to silence the voices that were not his, voices I heard growing up, voices I had given power to, voices I created, to hear the one, true Him, but I did.
I learned to be more disciplined in my spiritual life, reading God's word, turning to Him in times of trouble--not the lies of my mind. Drenching myself in the truth only He can offer. I went through a process of prayer that God used to reveal some of these deep hidden wounds that gave so much insight to the mistaken belief system I was holding onto.
I also learned how to be proactive and preventive. I survived the death of my grandma and mother within six months of each other with out an signs of 'depression'. I had my fourth child with out any post-partum depression. I survived other family crisis as well.
I don't regret taking the anti-depressants one bit. They saved my life at the time. From there I was able to receive the healing, emotional and mental, that only God can provide. He led me to the information I craved, to keep myself healthy. I had to retrain my thought processes, which I believe the verse above indicates.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Prov. 3: 5-8
Reading these verses now, it is so clear the depth of understanding God has for our human condition. He knows that if we rely on our own understanding, of what we see with the natural eye--we may be misled. We must rely on His truth in all things. We must not dwell on anything that He has commanded we not dwell on.
Our truth and identity can ONLY be found in Him. It’s not about what *we* think of ourselves or what others think of us, only what God thinks of us. We must focus on HIS truths for our lives. If I had believed in my own “truth” in my darkest hour--I would have ended my life. If I had believed my own mistaken identity--I would have ended up without an identity.
I don't have a magic formula for mental health or even physical health. I can only share my own personal journey, or at least bits and pieces of it. I know that life situations, no matter how hard or impossible looking, are never hopeless. I know that Christ is a God of love and ultimate truth.
Don't succumb to the lies of a mistaken identity, embrace what God has planned for you and who HE has designed you to be.