“Sometimes…the truth is harder than the pain inside.” Erasure
My mind sometimes goes there…to that ugly place where it tells me “if it gets too bad, you know what you can do.” The truth is that it wasn’t just doing this during that excruciatingly dark night of the soul three years ago…it has been going there for years…since I was a teenager, maybe even before that.
You see, sometimes I really screw things up. I go through seasons where it seems I’m getting my shit together – not even close to perfect, but life seems somewhat stable. Then, I go through seasons like the one I’m going through now where it seems I can’t even go one hour without screwing something up, and things just build and build until I feel suffocated and I can’t see the light. When I go through these seasons, my mind goes there. It’s like my mind is at war with my soul. My soul knows that nothing that happens on this earth is worth taking those measures, but my mind just has to keep freaking reminding me…”if it gets too bad, you know (wink wink).”
When the future looks like a road full of endless trouble, my mind goes there. When I fear I won’t be able to take care of myself, much less my daughter, my mind goes there. When rejection feels like death, my mind goes there.
I’ve never come up with a plan or written a letter, but my mind goes there.
Why am I sharing this? Because I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the stigmas those who struggle with mental illness have to face day in and day out, most especially within the church. Because I’m hoping beyond hope that someone out there will say “Me too” and “You’re not crazy” and maybe someone will sit and listen, really really listen, without looking at me like I’m possessed….to my heart, my fears, what I see as dire straits (but in reality are probably things a lot of people go through but are afraid talk about too), and maybe just maybe that would open a door for more of such conversations.
I’ve always hated the word – suicide. It sounds so violent, so final, and it is. I know people who have ended their life and I always wonder…what if they just had one “unblinking” friend who would’ve sat and listened to their worst fears for as long as they needed to release them? What if I could have been that friend?
I find myself wondering if any of my friends battle this monster too. It’s not something that even close friends talk about. There is such a horrible stigma surrounding it, it’s a wonder people get help without having a major breakdown. If I so much as mention sadness or depression with many, not all, of the people in my life, the platitudes, quick fixes, self-help and spiritual warfare strategies start spilling out….or some friends just disappear. Maybe, like a friend on social media said “only Jesus can handle that much honest.” I am in endless conversations with Jesus, but sometimes it helps to have someone “with skin on”, who I don’t have to pay*, sitting across or beside, holding my hand, loving me where I am.
My favorite scripture over the past several months has been 2 Cor 12::9 – “But He said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power my rest on me.”
So, I guess this is me boasting about my weakness.
Deep in my heart, I know the Gospel. I know that no matter how dark, scary and messy this life gets, Jesus is “close to the brokenhearted and he saves those crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) I know that “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench…” (Isaiah 42::2-3)
I’m praying that what I know in my heart will go to my head and this battle will end.
I went to a beautiful Catholic funeral this morning and I heard a song I haven’t heard in years…
“Be not afraid, I go before you always….come, follow me, and I will give you rest.” -Bob Dufford
Lord, please help me to not be afraid, no matter what fiery trials may come my way. Thank you for the unblinking friends you send my way.
*I am in therapy and recovery