Part One: No. I love you too much.
I need you to know, before I begin, that my heart is in my chest. I have a story to tell, some things to reveal, a path to follow. I've felt this pull for a long time, but it's scary. I've dabbled with it, but it's never been a large part of what I do in my business and incorporating it into work feels overwhelming and scary. So I've been frozen. Maybe you've noticed, maybe you haven't. There are so many things on my "To do" list that I tell myself are more important because they may be more lucrative, or make others feel I am helping, but I know that this is most important. Even if it's just for me. Some of you may feel it's not a big deal to share faith, others may cringe. It's the latter of the two who I fear because I love and respect people, I don't want to be a believer who tells people they are bad, or wrong, or who damns others to hell, or tells them what is right or wrong for them. My faith has always felt different, and I may have it all wrong, but it's led me beautifully and I've been avoiding the path it's been urging down for a long time. Not sharing the truth about how I've gotten to where I am, while helping others find their way, or even just putting consumable content out into the world, well it feels inauthentic...but maybe more so it feels out of alignment.
Two and a half years ago I hired a top-tier business coach, the best of the best. He got a little more than he bargained for with me at the time, and I got a lot more than I paid for, so I guess he pulled the short end of the stick, but it was no mistake that we worked together. Today he called me out of nowhere, we haven't worked together for at least a year and a half, but our conversation twisted and turned through life and business and eventually down the path to faith and callings. I told him my worst fear, that I wasn't listening to what I was meant to do because it scared me and I was afraid it would make me polarizing and offensive, and then he told me what I already knew, but needed to hear.
The "out of nowhere" call was no mistake. It was absolutely designed beyond either of our control. So here we are, I have a story to tell.
Parts of this story are a little bit wild and out there, but that is life and that is faith, I hope it can be relatable in some way, to anyone.
So here it goes.
I lost faith in everything 5 years ago last November. I was broken and defeated. I prayed from the bottom of a dark pit, knowing (as I thought) that nobody was listening. I was lost, in every way. I begged for answers, gut feelings, literal signs...like airplanes flying, with a message for me, signs. I got nothing. My kids and I were living with my parents, my depression was so deep that speaking was difficult. I posted a reel the other day saying that I am forever thankful that I press record so often on my phone, the reason is that I have to go back to those videos to remind myself that I existed for my kids during this time. I need to remember that I was there, that I showed them love. Depression steals everything. Those videos give me hope that I was there, they still are so important to me. My kids were and are my everything, what held my pieces, and by God's grace my parents were there to pick up all of the ones that would drop, all day, every day. I couldn't be put back together though.
I went to church, but nothing made sense to me. I'd cry through most of the service, and avoid talking to anyone. I felt angry that people were experiencing something I could not, not only in the Word but with one another. This wasn't just at church, but everywhere. I'd cry walking through Target, I would cry walking through parking lots, I did everything I could to avoid interaction at all costs. I spent a lot of time working and in my room, I made my work my everything and was successful at it. My defense mechanisms are very good at shutting me down to put on a brave face and work. It was the only thing I felt like I could control. I wasn't faking anything, I was surviving. My business was thriving, it was a beautiful mask for the deep pain I was in.
At Costco one day, with my two youngest and my parents while my oldest was in school, I had an anxiety attack, far beyond what I'd experienced before. I would have called it a panic attack at the time, but now that I've had those I understand the difference. I was triggered the moment we walked into the store. This wasn't my life. This wasn't right. I didn't feel like a human, how was this my life? I didn't feel deserving of my children or any of my accomplishments. I was filled with despair and hate, mostly for myself and the loss of the life I thought I had in the bag. So I picked up my girl and I clung to her, she was old enough to walk through the store on her own, but I held her tight against me. She just let me, with her head on my shoulder while I cried silent, but heaving tears. At 4, she didn't ask questions, she just allowed herself to ground me, it wasn't her job, but she held me together as we walked, and I had the worst breakdown of my life. I had plenty over the years, this one was different though, I wasn't sure there was any way out.
I no longer had opinions. Concerns. I didn't need anything. I didn't want anything. I didn't exist. I couldn't leave my kids, but I didn't want to be. I felt forsaken. I keenly remember sitting at the Costco food court while my family ate, unable to stop crying. My parents were simply at a loss for how to help me.
When we got into the car, I sat in the back seat, my two youngest in the center, my two-year-old rear-facing in his car seat, watched me cry. Most matter-of-factly he said, "Mommy cry." It was a statement, this is what mommy does, she cries. He had no more reason for empathy, it was too normal at this point. My panic continued and my hands went to my phone and reached out to someone who probably wouldn't have made the most sense if I had rational thought, but it was the right person. It's hard to see God's nudges and gifts when you're this broken, but the call was to the exact right person. A wife of an old friend, a nurse who understood mental health. I told her I was desperate, I was not ok, I needed help because I didn't know how to live anymore.
She got me in to see someone, who had a waitlist a mile long, within 24 hours. It may have been that day. This doctor explained my depression, it was situational, it could be long-term, but the reason it was so confusing was because I had never been depressed, nothing like this. I knew anxiety, but never depression. Situations can bring it on, sometimes so "well" that it becomes a part of you. She gave me a prescription, I didn't want to be on a prescription forever, but she said I may have to, we would just have to see.
Finally, after a short period, the depression was controlled. Still there, but there was a large weight lifted, enough for me to feel myself, while maybe not hope or strength, there was light and the ability to see more than just the dark hole.
I think the host horrifying piece of depression is how isolating it is, which creates this thing that has no word for it. It's not selfishness, but that may be the closest word in the English language. The thing is that it can't be selfish because you matter to no one. Anyone in the world would say that's not true, but while perception isn't truth, it is reality. The reality in this space is that you matter to no one, you don't want to, and you shouldn't matter to anyone. You don't want them to waste time caring, you don't want to burden anyone with your pain, it wouldn't be impossible to express it anyways. Worst of all though, there is no situation you feel can be worse than how you feel. I would have traded the emotional pain I was in with anyone, looking back on that is so unreal and sickening. An entire town burned down, people were left homeless without anything at all, and I envied that they had one another. My cousin lost her son, and I cannot even believe I am admitting this because I despise myself for it, but I envied that she had people surrounding her, who understood her pain and why she hurt so much. Depression is the worst, most evil, thing that can envelop someone. It makes no sense, to anyone, especially the one experiencing it.
I mostly explain this to those who need words put to what they have experienced or are experiencing. If this sounds preposterous to you, that is ok. It's good. Our brains cannot comprehend things they have not experienced. We can try to be empathetic, but we can't comprehend. Much like I could not comprehend the pain that those others were going through.
Depression may be self-centered, but it lacks ego, there is nothing there to care more about.
I had many people after that year tell me that I hurt them. That I wasn't there for them, I didn't care about their feelings. I wasn't a good friend, I didn't let them know what I was going through, and I forgot a birthday (or 20). I had let people down. To that I have few words. I didn't want anyone to check on me, I could not bear the pain of my experience being reflected in someone else's voice or eyes, I cared too much for them to make them feel concerned about me. I didn't keep track of who cared about me, I was glad if they didn't. This is the answer, I believe, to "why didn't they reach out for help?"
I can only liken this to having my mom walk in as I was in transition with my firstborn, hovering over a toilet, screaming in pain from the pitocin and lack of pain medication, alone. My husband was not sure what to do, he was overwhelmed and scared for me...we always say he was bouncing off the walls. The nurse kept turning the lights off in the room for God knows what reason. I was alone in the bathroom in the worst imaginable physical pain and there was nothing anyone could do for me at that point. It was all me. My mom walked in and saw my face, I saw in her eyes a mother's pain I would come to learn more about, but it was a pain that couldn't serve me at all when it came to this experience or the task at hand. I asked her to leave because I couldn't bear it, I couldn't take seeing her pain and fear as well in that moment. Thankfully there was a beautiful ending to my labor. I could handle the pain in her eyes for my suffering once I was healing, but in the moment, there was no way.
That, for me, was a lot like my depression. I don't seek any sympathy through this, most still don't know the depths, this blog can't explain it, it's just to say that now that I am outside of that deep dark space, I can handle the pain of other's worry and care. More importantly, the reason so many don't reach out is because they don't feel that they can be helped and they can't carry the weight of someone else's concern and helplessness.
I did not get the answers to my prayers that year. Not one. I still had beautiful, healthy children. I had a medication that brought me back to some reality and allowed me to feel a sense of myself and hope. I had no answers though. I didn't see a solid path. I was still scared and confused and deeply sad. At the time I thought it was because I was not worth helping. I thought God said "No." When what he was saying was "No, because I love you too much."
Then He said, "Grow."