For a little over two months I have been in job hunt mode. Iv’e filled out a least one job application everyday. I’m not trying to be too picky but I mean- there is a lot to consider. The hours, the job, if I need to find day care, how much is daycare, is there even good daycare, will the job be in the way of getting the health care my son needs, um I need any job so we can pay the bills, and the list goes on and on.
Yesterday as I was filling out yet another application there was one question that caught me offgaurd. Do you have a mental illness? As I read through the list of illness, there it was. DEPRESSION.
Click. No click. Truth. Hide? How do you disclose the darkest part of you- the part that brings shame- to complete strangers that you are trying to impress. I mean nothing says reliable like hey I might have a huge breakdown and not be able to get out of bed for days and there is no warning when it may happen or for how long or how bad it will be and um no garentees that I will be able to hold everything together at work…But I’m trying to be more honest in life. So. I. clicked. it.
It took a few days to process what that made me feel. But, today while I was attempting to discuss the woos of no job with my husband, it finally came out. DEFECTIVE. Checking that box made me feel defective. It made me feel like a smashed up box that they sell at discount stores. Something that you are trying to get rid of. Something that doesn’t really function.
Those are some BIG feelings! Depression is full of such big fellings that are sometimes impossible to understand and take in.
But I’m slowly getting there. I’ve always thought that depression caused by some tragic event would be way easier. I mean I would just have to work through the issue right? I’ve learned that even though I don’t have some tragic event to process I DO have things I need to work through. I have skills that I need to learn to have better mental health. But that does not make me a less than! Yes there are aspects that I can control but there are still things that are Not my fault and Not under my control. I think accepting this is a huge step on my journey through the darkness.
Point is- just keep taking those tiny steps through the darkness and let a little more light in.
My brother has scars along both of his arms. I think most people can easily guess the cause. At some time he cut himself. I remember when the scars appeared but I only could see a small piece of the picture.
A few years ago, while on a walk with me mom, the topic of self harm surfaced. My mom questioned why anyone would ever want to do that. I shrugged off the question; the world went on. Inside though I knew. I knew because I had done it-and not just once. Of course I was sure to make mine not as obvious as my brother’s scars. But I knew where they were hidden.
I’ve never been able to admit to myself why I do it before. It wasn’t until the last few times that I looked at the truth. I did it because it felt good. It released the tightening in my chest. It brought calm. It put a pause on the storm. I never started doing it because I wanted to feel better. Anger. I was filled with anger- mostly towards myself. I deserved it. These are the lies that fill my head when I am in the depths of depression. It can have a thick grasp on my mind. Of course there was only relief for a short time. Guilt would follow. Guilt is easier to deal with than a sadness that penetrates your soul. After the guilt comes a tiny self forgiveness and will to get better. It also comes with a heavier burden knowing that there is a true problem to solve. A real demon to kill. It is a vicious cycle. At times I have been able to pause the cycle but I’ve learned that is always comes back. And it always will unless I am able to stare my demons in the face and allow them to leave. Putting this down on paper is how I am choosing to stare my demons in the face. I have to do more than just tell them to leave. Hope that it will happen. Plead with God to take it away. I have to let my demons leave. Goodbye.
Our stories have no beginning or end but here is my beginning
Today I was reminded of the first time. The first time I wanted to kill myself. It was on a slide- a metal one that was part of a homemade tree fort. I said it out loud to my two friends out of anger. “Fine I’ll just go kill myself.” I really felt it and was not just using it as an expression. This was when I was in 4th or 5th grade.
A few years later I said it again. This time to a friend while I was at a camp. We had been crying about everything there is to cry about, and I let it out.
The other times are a little blurry. Except for the first time I sort of acted on those dark thoughts. It should not have happened. Life was going fairly great. Living in Honduras was like a dream! Teaching others about Jesus filled my life with happiness. How was it possible to be happy and be filled with such utter despair. I wanted to do it but I knew better. I still had some reason left. I only took two extra pills. I knew it would only make me sleep long. Hopefully I would wake up and the thick darkness would be lifted. I woke up on the bathroom floor. Of course I covered up what was really going on when my friends found me lying there.
Covering it up can be the easy part. Making up a reason to it all. Putting on more than a happy face. Having a happy life. Its not that hard to do when life really is going well. Everyone has their struggles but I don’t feel like I’ve had anything happen to me that would cause such debilitating sadness. It’s easy for people to believe that all is well when the part of the iceberg they see looks so ordinary. Plus its not like the black is always present.
Sometimes I trick myself into believing that its gone. The darkness is at bay and never will return. I know its a lie. As soon as I allow myself to truly feel the warmth of joy the reality of what is soon to come enters into my mind. The darkness will return, it always does. Never knowing when it will come or what it will bring, I try to hold onto the joy as long it will allow.
Within the last few years some of the truth started to come out. There is only person that I can’t completely mask the dark abyss that I’m trying to walk through. My husband. The first time some of the dark leaked out was in the car. We were driving that night-a dark car driving through towns is the best time to be vulnerable anyone. The person driving can’t see your face enough to see all the truth in your eyes. He was devastated to hear it. Knowing that I caused him any pain stung. Those were the first tears I had seen him shed. Along with the sting of seeing his pain was relief. I didn’t have to hide as much. Of course I would still hide but having a little more truth out felt soothing. It was a beginning. A beginning to letting the darkness out. Today, now, writing this. It’s another beginning. People don’t know my darkness. I don’t want them to know, yet I do. Letting the darkness escape is….Well, I don’t know yet. Maybe it will help me. Maybe it will help someone else. I do believe that the challenges we are given have a divine purpose. I left wondering many times whats the purpose to mine?
Maybe you are reading this as a family member, a friend, a stranger. Maybe you have struggled with this darkness. Or perhaps someone you know has confided in you. There is most likely someone in your life that is afflicted with this ugly darkness known as depression. As I open up my closet of secrets and let you peer into the deepest parts of me, I hope you are able to gain some understanding for yourself or for someone else. Its terrifying to relinquish control of this part of my life to anyone who happens to read this. But- I feel like I need to and for some reason that it will be worth it.
We are all icebergs floating along in the sea of life. Only part of us is visible. My visible iceberg: wife, mother of 2, daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, niece, runner, teacher, friend. But what about the me that is under the water? Hidden far below the surface is an entirely different world. A world that can be filled with darkness that I dare not let escape. Now is the time. The time to let it escape. Time to drain the sea and allow my iceberg to come into full view. This is me.