You see, when you ask God for something, you have to be ready for him to answer, and sometimes the answer is not what you might choose for yourself, but he answers in the best way. You just have to be patient.
October 17-18 2010, was MN Youth Convention and that year, the theme was compelled by love. The speaker was Reggie Dabbs, and all I remember about that weekend is that my life changed for the better. Since I lived in Rochester where the convention took place, it only made sense that I would attend, and I was happy because my friends would be there as well. The last night before they went home, we stayed up all night talking, and out of nowhere, revelations came. It was as if, God had finally said that my fight with depression needed to be finished and that I would have to get to the bottom of my problems. Knowing me, he knew that it would take the love of others to help me open up. The Saturday when everyone left, was uneventful, I went home, and slept all day and since I had no roommate no one would disturb me. On Sunday morning when I woke up, I woke up with this anger with God that I couldn’t seem to get past. I was angry that he was making me face my hurts, I was angry that it seemed like I had to do it alone, I blamed him for what others had done to me, and I basically told him that I wanted him to leave me alone. In church that morning, I refused to listen, I refused to worship and I was so angry at him. I spent the rest of the day doing whatever I could do to make sure that I was occupied. I played loud music, I watched TV, everything that I felt would drown out the voice of God was attempted, because I blamed him. Then I slept, hoping that I would wake up and go back to walking in the haze that I had walked in for the last few years, but like I said, God always has better plans.
When I woke up on Monday, I cried so much. I wanted a hug, I wanted to scream, I wanted to release the pain that I felt and I wanted to put it on others. I went to school but I kept crying, I would leave the classroom and go to the bathroom, just so nobody would know how I was feeling. I didn’t want to burden anyone with the weight that I was carrying and I was afraid that someone would tell me to get over it (you never ever ever say that to someone). As I walked home, all I could think about was ending it, I was going to go home, take all the pills that it would take and finally be done with the pain. Looking back now, I can’t even imagine the thoughts going through the minds of those I passed on the street as I cried. I got to my apartment building and saw some people I knew, so I wiped those tears, smiled and walked to my room. I burst out crying and someone saw me, asked me what was wrong and I gave my usual response “nothing.” I knew I didn’t want to do it, but there was no other choice in my mind, it was either do it, or deal with my issues and I couldn’t imagine that, so I laid on my bed and cried.
Then I heard the knocking on my door. I figured that if I ignored it, the person would get the hint and leave me, but they continued. Of course, if you can hear someone crying in the hallways, I imagine that the response of a compassionate human being would be to keep trying until they got an answer. The person knocked on my door and eventually called my phone. With some very annoying persistence from this person, I got up from my bed and let them in and broke down. I told this person everything and when I was done, I felt so exhausted. I no longer had to deal with this by myself and I knew that someone cared. After listening to me, and trying to comfort me, the person took any thing that I could use to hurt myself out and told me to go to sleep.
That was the most peaceful sleep that I have ever had. It was as if, I was being held and comforted and I knew that the worst of it was over. During my sleep, I saw my family and friends and I was reminded of how much they loved me. Most of all I was reminded that God hadn’t left me in the times of despair. You see, when I was going through these things, I had been convinced that I wasn’t loved, that I wasn’t good enough, or smart enough or pretty enough. I had been convinced that there was nothing in me that was of value, and that it would be better for all involved for me to quit. Most of all I had no hope that my situation would get better but it did. I won’t say that all of my problems were solved that day because they weren’t. I knew I had to talk to people I trusted to counsel me, and make sure that I would recover. Depression like any other illness needs to be treated correctly. It can’t be done alone.
Each year around that time, I count how many years it is that I have been free, and I thank God. I remember to be happy about each day that I don’t have to battle this mental illness. For me just being joyful in the smallest things has saved me. It has given me a sense of gratefulness. I sometimes think about how I was saved from the worst mistake that I could make, and how the potential that I have within me could have been snuffed out in one moment. I also learned to be unapologetic in my love for God, because it saved me. I learned a few things that might help someone going through what I went through and here they are, keep in mind that I am not a psychiatrist or counselor, just someone who has experienced it:
1. Unless you are willing to seek the help, there is nothing anyone else can do for you. Constantly telling people that there is nothing wrong when there is, is only hurting yourself. Nobody can read your mind, and if you always tell people that you are fine, they will eventually just believe you.
2. Nobody is a burden, there is at least one person who loves you and wants you to be happy. God cares, and I care too. no human should go through their struggles alone, because it is too much of a burden to carry . You have family, and friends who care about you. They might not know exactly what is going on, but the last thing they would want is for you to feel pain.
3. There is hope, there is joy, there is peace, there is a solution other than suicide. Suicide is permanent and even though you are going through pain, it will get better. Just be patient and remember that. Trying to find a quick answer is not helping you, or you family. You have potential, you have gifts that the world needs to see, and you have the ability to change someone’s life for the better. Focus on that, focus on the promise of the future instead of the issues of your present. Life is full of ups and downs and eventually those bad times have to pass. Just be patient and keep fighting.
4. In order to move past it, find the cause and deal with. We try so hard to be strong, but we are all vulnerable people, if you don’t deal with whatever someone has done to you in the past, said to you in the past, that problem will eventually spread into a cancer that is hard to fight. I used to talk so much, and had a hard time shutting up because I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts, but your thoughts might be trying to tell you the cause. Find a way to release it all, I turned to journaling about my feelings because I wasn’t ready to talk to someone about it. I know people who use art and music to release it. Put in the effort so that you will be free.
5. Find the littlest things to be grateful for. Whether it is your family, or friends, a book you like, music…anything, focus on the fact that there are things in life that are beautiful even when you feel the ugliness of life.
6. Remember that you are not alone. You are not the only one who feels this way, and like me, you will eventually get through it. You are not selfish, you’re human. You are not attention seeking and those who call you that, just don’t know. The day will come when you look back and know that it is past you. You’re a survivor and you will make it.
We live in a society where we are taught that it is you against the world, and that’s wrong to me. I know that one of the things that made it hard for me to seek help as I dealt with these issues was this idea that “someone who loves God can’t be depressed.” LIES!! My mental health didn’t mean that I didn’t have a relationship with God, it meant that I had personal issues that needed to be solved and I didn’t know how to. Whenever I would hear some statement like that, or that black people can’t be depressed, it made me feel like there was something wrong with me. That I was lacking as a human being, and that I was making it up for attention. Of course, the fact that I hid it from those who I loved, with smiles and constant statements to make others feel comfortable, show that for me it wasn’t about attention. It was real and I fight everyday to make sure that I don’t go through it again. Every time I hear stories of a person committing suicide, it breaks my heart. I think of the potential that is lost, the future doctor, or lawyer, the next great musician that the world will never get to know.
I am also filled with rage at the comments that people make. It’s not because someone is too sensitive, or a wimp or whatever dumb reasons people give, its because there are underlying issues that need to be resolved, and if we don’t let people know that they are loved and cared for, things won’t change. I ask that we stop trying to blame people and start trying to find a solution for these problems. Mental illness is real and it won’t go away just because we try to ignore it.
I care, do you?