I keep feeling like I want to write something but I’m not quite sure what I want to say. I want to come up with a happy, uplifting message to share, but the truth is that’s just not how I’m feeling. Every time I start to write, though, I stop myself because I don’t want to be a downer. I don’t want to spread negativity. So, I have just been keeping all my feelings to myself. I just stuff them down and don’t talk to anyone about them.
I think I’m afraid. Ever since we moved, I have been scared to really open up and truly be myself. What if I’m not accepted? What if they don’t understand? What if they are scared of me? What if they avoid me? All of these things constantly run through my mind and keep me from saying the things that are on my mind. They keep me from opening up and being honest about who I really am.
But the truth is that now I’ve become closed off. I’ve crawled up inside my shell. I’m so scared of rejection that I don’t even try to make friends. So guess what? I don’t have any. Not in the way that I would like, anyway. I guess it’s really not fair to say I don’t have any friends at all, but here’s the extent of it. I talk to a few people at church and I talk to people at work. Occasionally, I go to lunch with someone, which is nice. But that’s it. Basically, I’m not sharing life with anyone here. I’m not connecting in the way that I always have before.
I’ve always had friends. Good friends. I’ve always made connections that run deep. So, not having that here has been really hard for me. It’s been really lonely. But, I suppose it’s my own fault. I suppose that I should be making more of an effort to get to know people. And maybe if I wasn’t so scared of my secret being found out, I might try.
The truth is, it’s not really a secret. Anyone who has paid any attention to my FB page in the last several years already knows. I guess I just assume that most people don’t pay attention, so they probably don’t know. Maybe if I just go ahead and lay it all out there, I won’t have to worry about it anymore. Of course, I won’t know who has read this, but at least I will have taken a step toward not being scared anymore.
The thing is, I know God doesn’t want me to live in fear. I know he doesn’t want me to hide this part of my life. It’s part of my story for a reason. He showed up in a powerful way for me and I know he would want me to share that with anyone who will listen. And he taught me so many valuable things that I can now pass on to others, if only I am brave enough to do so.
So here goes. For some, this won’t be news. For others, it certainly will.
For many years I have struggled with depression, probably as far back as my college years. I began getting help for it in 2014. Though I was seeing a counselor and taking medication, I wasn’t getting any better. I would go through times when I was better for a while, but then things would get bad again. I had this feeling in my gut that something was really wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just knew that we were missing something.
In 2016, things really began to spiral out of control. I was going downhill in a hurry. It was really apparent now that something more was going on. In November, we finally got the answer we had been searching for. What we thought was treatment resistant depression was really bipolar disorder.
As you can imagine, getting this diagnosis absolutely rocked my world. I had so many mixed emotions. Finally, we could understand what was happening and could start moving toward proper treatment. But, bipolar? How could I be bipolar? It took a while for me to wrap my mind around this diagnosis.
I began doing a lot of research and learning all that I could about bipolar disorder. I learned that it’s actually a spectrum of disorders and affects each person very differently. It doesn’t affect me in the typical way, which is why it was so difficult to diagnose.
Over the next couple of years, I focused heavily on getting treatment. I spent a total of seven months in intensive group therapy for about ten hours each week. I was also seeing my private therapist once or twice a week and was having regular visits with my psychiatrist during this time. Basically, therapy and getting better was almost a full time job.
It wasn’t an easy journey by any means. There were times when I couldn’t see any way out of the pit I was in. I didn’t think my life was ever going to get back on track. I didn’t think I would ever be able to work or lead any sort of normal life again. I had completely broken down, and I didn’t know if there was any recovering.
I was suicidal for about three years. I survived some incredibly dark moments that I can’t even begin to describe. I had many talks with Jesus, begging him to come get me. I didn’t think I could bear the pain I was living any longer. He knew differently.
Over time, very slowly, I began to get better. After many trials and errors, we finally found the right medications. All the therapy had paid off and I was finally stabilizing. The time between getting my diagnosis and finally feeling stable was about four years.
During those four years, I met God in ways I never imagined possible. I now know him more intimately than I ever would have if I hadn’t had to put my life in his hands. So many things in my life were stripped away during these four years that I found myself turning to him and leaning on him in ways that I hadn’t previously. And he never let me down. No matter how bad things got, I never doubted his presence, his grace, his mercy, or his love for me. And while I hope I never have to endure anything like this again in my life, I am somehow thankful for having done so.
God grew me and molded me during this process in ways he couldn’t have otherwise. I’m thankful for that. I’m grateful to be changed. I’m grateful to see the other side and see what God did for me. I’m thankful that I now have the opportunity to tell others about how good he is.
That brings me to the present. That’s why I feel like I have to share my story and not hide behind it. How will anyone know how good God has been to me if I don’t tell them? Obviously, there are so many more details to this story that I have left out, but I’m happy to share them with you or with anyone who wants to hear them.
Also, my journey is part of what lead me to be a counselor. It’s mostly why I’m so passionate about mental health. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out.
Thanks for reading, friends!