Finding Strength

I look back at my life and the struggles I endured because of my depression, and I wonder how I am still alive.  I shouldn’t be, especially since I spent nearly a decade on the road to complete and total self-destruction.

But I am alive.  I am here.

And I know why.

I was diagnosed with depression at 16 (although looking back, I now realize it began much earlier).

I had been cutting myself for months when I finally confessed to my mom that I was harming myself.  She took me to the doctor, who sent me to the hospital.  They assessed me and (thankfully) decided I didn’t need to be admitted.  I was sent to the Crisis Centre.  And thus began my treatment for depression.

I am a person who likes to be in control.  Many things in my childhood were beyond my control, so in my young adult life I held on tight to everything.

I tried to deal with my depression in so many [unhealthy] ways.  As already mentioned I was cutting myself.  This happened, on and off, for about 10 years.

Now I have a body full of scars; reminders of the trauma I went through, but also reminders of what I have overcome.

Aside from cutting I would try to hurt myself by slamming my hand and/or fingers in doors and drawers.  I used to boil water and pore it over my hands and arms.  Anything to distract from the excruciating pain inside.

In my early twenties I turned to alcohol and drugs to take away the pain and emptiness.  I would drink myself into a stupor, pass out and walk up the next day with a vague recollection of the previous night.

After university I tried to find happiness in material things.  I got myself into thousands of dollars of debt buying clothes, jewelry, music and more, hoping that one item would be the miracle cure I needed.

Of course, no item was.

How did I survive?  How did I find healing and peace?

God.

My father in heaven rescued me.  For years I had been trying to mend myself through earthly things.  And they never worked.

At 23 I started to go to church again.  I found an amazing church in Toronto where I was welcomed and accepted immediately.  That was something I had never experienced before.

There, with the help of new friends, great teaching, and amazing leadership I learned what it meant to be a true follower of Christ.  I learned how to have a relationship with God.

I began that relationship timidly, but that was all God needed.  He needed me to turn to Him and He was just waiting.  He had been waiting, for a very long time.

This wasn’t a miracle cure.  My life didn’t suddenly become perfect.  My depression didn’t just disappear.  But as I grew closer to God, I learned to release the control I was desperately holding on to.

I didn’t have to suffer alone anymore.  God was with me and all of the pain I felt, He felt too.  And through Him I gained the strength to fight against my depression.

God also opened my eyes to all the beautiful people in my life who loved me and supported me.  I was definitely not alone.

My life is still really hard sometimes.  My depression can get really bad and the pain can feel unbearable.  But I don’t turn to negative things to try to put a bandaid over the gaping wound.

I turn to Him, and there I find strength.  Because I know that no matter how bad it gets, He will help me through it.

I know this because of all He has already helped through, even when I didn’t seek Him out.

I know why I am still alive after so many horrific years.

God can take anything bad and create something good out of it.  He has taken my struggles and given me a voice to use them to help others.

That is why I am here.

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