The winter season seems to always bring with it an extra helping of stress and hustle-bustle antics. Personally, this past month or so has been perhaps the busiest of my life. What if, in the midst of all the present buying, final exam taking, and influenza fighting, love and grace stand to the side, arms folded in patient disbelief of our ignorance; God born as a babe, lays in a manager, awaiting the recognition of all humanity.
This Christmas season, I encourage the small faction of people who may at one point stumble upon this, to remember their story and how God has got them to where they are today, just as I too reflect upon mine for the betterment of my soul, and perchance, your’s too.
The Most Important Day of my Life [My Story in a Nutshell]:
The most important day of my life was the day I decided to open up to my parents about my feelings of depression. This is a fairly new event, however I can already see the positive ramifications of my actions, and although it has been, and still is, a long road to recovery, I believe I have seen the worst of myself, and thus can only go up from here.
Even growing up as a child I always felt something of a persistent prick of my heart. Perhaps, I wonder, it was my unreserved love for others, my inexplicable empathy for strangers at such a young age, that left my brittle heart exposed to the harsh realities of the world around me. I am told I would often walk through a superstore, grab a young lady’s hand, hug her, and tell her what a beautiful spectacle she was (if only picking up chicks was still that easy). This is, of course in contrast to how I would feel a few years later, after being bullied at school. Coming home and sobbing on my bed for hours, I wondered what could possibly be wrong with me. I seemed happy on the outside, but on the inside I was torn to a billion pieces, as if my spirit was a soldier that had stepped on a landmine.
Over the years, pushing through my hopelessness only aided in its progression. By the fifth grade I can distinctly remember looking in the mirror of a Meijers dressing room, sighing in discontent with myself, and wondering if my feelings would ever change. Thoughts soon turned into great cognitive complexes- mazes inside my mind that only I could navigate. When at school, or church, or pretty much any place in which I thought I would be judged for showing my true colors, I would try my best to present myself as a bold, outgoing, and likeable person (something I would later become and now am). My thinking was that if I gave extreme contrast to who I am on the outside, compared to who I am on the inside, no one would ever be able to penetrate the walls.
It worked… for a while at least.
When high school hit things began to change. The people were ruder, my parents were older, the classes were harder. Immense pressure was setting in for me. It wasn’t long before my little world was flooded with anxiety. It soon became more and more difficult to handle my social life. Often times, I would find myself moody and frustrated with those around me, flailing off the handle at the slightest mistake. To make matters even worse, during Thanksgiving break my sophomore year, my cousin overdosed on heroin, stunning my family and sending me into a further emotional oblivion. Anger soon became my public outlet for my private angst. I can now recall myself frequently repeating the phrase “I hate everyone” whenever something didn’t go my way.
One day, after getting into a fight with some close friends of mine, threatening to hurt myself, and crying my eyes out on the front steps of my house, I decided I needed some real help. With another panic attack gnawing at my heels, I took out my phone, and out of fear of how my mom would react in person, typed the words “What would you do if I told you I think I’m depressed,” in her messages.
It was two days later, locked in the bathroom between thin gasps of air, that I would hit send.
When I sent the message that day, it instantly became the single most important decision of my life. On the verge of chaos and collapse, I was desperately reaching for hope. My mother, who is wise in her years, text a response stating we should talk in person as a family. At the moment I was very frightened by that reply. With thoughts of shame and guilt rushing through my mind, it was difficult to think of how I would soon explain myself. I decided that by describing my symptoms (which turned out to be the average symptoms of a manic depressive) I could persuade them to plan a doctor’s appointment, at which point I would receive some form of counseling or medical prescription.
Although nervous, I knew my depression had to be addressed. After a long talk with both parents (separately, due to schedule conflicts), we worked out a plan for treatment with the doctor- a mix between counseling and prescription antidepressants. Things began to, and still are changing. For the first time in years, I have begun to no longer hate myself. No longer do I have to feel excessive humiliation or remorse for the simple fact that I’m a human. I’m learning to accept myself for who I am, and not worry about the ridiculous standards others have placed on me- the expectations of a corrupt society that has caused so many to die of numbness.
During the worst moments of my life, I felt as though I could stand in a crowd of people butt naked, shouting profane phrases at the top of my lungs, and still go unnoticed. Stepping up to the plate and confronting my handicap has altered that. I don’t feel ignored anymore, rather, I feel heard, and not only heard but commended for my actions (and by actions I’m no longer referring to the above scenario of public nudity).
When I decided to stand up for myself that day, I made a choice to take off my mask and acknowledge the fact that maybe I’m not the only one. Maybe there are others who need to hear my story, and thus need me to make the bold decisions they can’t yet. It was with that pensive, mind-altering thought that I found a hope, and ultimately, an unwavering purpose. Overcoming truly is, a battle I was born to win.
I will win.