A lot has changed since I was last blogging regularly.
As some of you may know, in February this year, shortly after my sixteenth birthday, I was diagnosed with mild depression. The doctor called it mild, and in relation to most cases of depression, it was. I was on antidepressants, then tranquilisers, for five or six months before quitting the medications and being fine with it. I was never driven to the point of self-harm more serious than my chronic nailbiting, or to suicidal tendencies.
But in the depths of that depression, it didn’t feel mild.
It was as if all ability to experience pleasant or positive emotions had been shut off. Imagine a world without love, joy, excitement, exhilaration, happiness, comfort, or humour. A world where nothing is beautiful, nothing is funny, nothing is cute, nothing is exciting. The most positive thing there is a kind of determination akin to desperation, a frantic, almost hysterical determination to hold onto what you believe in. Or used to believe in, because when it’s hard to believe that tomorrow will even come, it’s hard to believe that there’s a God out there.
For a short time, that was my world.
It didn’t last long. Thank God. I mean literally, thank God. It was the first true trial of my faith, and it was the first time I saw the appeal in atheism. But thank God, I didn’t go that way. By my fingernails, by the skin of my teeth I held onto my faith and Jesus never for one instant let me go. They say that sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He allows the storm to rage and calms His child, and that was what He did for me.
How long was it really? A few weeks? A few months? Barely long enough to be classified depression, but long enough to leave a lasting impact on me, long enough to feel like decades. I won’t lie to you, some of the effects weren’t good. But I would not take back that experience even if I could. Because of my depression, I am a stronger person, better, deeper. I am more able to listen, understand, love and forgive, because I’ve been there. I’ve been in the place where all you can think about is yourself and you don’t even know you’re hurting everyone else because you can’t even think about them.
I thank God for my depression.
I thank Him, also, for healing me of it. It was by Him and through Him that I was healed. His Hand was in everything; most pointedly in the way He healed me directly, spiritually, baptising me in the Holy Ghost and pouring His blessings out onto me, opening my eyes to Scriptures and showing me again the evidence of His existence in the glory of His creation until once more I understood and had faith. But He was also there in the medication that healed me physically, and in the people that healed me emotionally. And are still healing me.
Emotions take the longest to heal. Emotions can destroy you. But emotions make everything worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I still have black days and times of absolute panic, dissolving into empty, aching hopelessness. The great fog has lifted, but there are still clouds in the sky. But for every sadness, there are a multitude of joys to outmatch it.
My parents were undoubtedly the people most responsible for the start of my recovery; their patience, understanding and willingness to stand back and allow me to sort myself out, whilst at the same time always being there to support me, was virtually superhuman – and still is. But there is someone else, too. It was in the very depths of that depression that God sent someone into my life who would make everything make sense, who would make it all worth it, who would make me understand why I had to go through that fight and just how much the fight had improved me, and who would ultimately be the one to drag me out of the hole I had dug for myself, whether I liked it or not.
This blog post is a goodbye to loneliness. For most of my adolescent life, I was extremely lonely. Not alone; never alone, for my God was always with me. But even Adam, who walked with God and saw Him face to face, was in need of Eve. We all need someone special to be our soulmate. And at the bottom of it all the loneliness was a major underlying part of the depression; it was something that manifested itself in the depression in my panic at being alone and my desperate desire to be with people.
But being with people is simply not enough. There has to be that one person who understands you and whom you understand, someone you know so well that you only have to close your eyes to hear their voice encouraging you on.
And God sent me that person.
It wasn’t always easy. Love isn’t easy. Jesus never said it would be easy. But it is always worth it. Even in this short space of time, God has used this person to teach me so much about forgiveness, unconditional love, patience, kindness, trust, justice, humility. That I’m not always right, nor am I always wrong.
I’ve heard of relationships drawing people away from God. This one pulls me closer to Him, banishes fears, teaches me more about trust and hope and faith and most of all love. I have learnt to speak to Him and how to listen; I have learnt how to forgive and, even harder, how to be forgiven; I have learnt the power of unconditional love.
I have learnt the meaning of the Scripture “Perfect love casteth out fear”. In my depression, my greatest fear was the fear of death. But I’ve learned that you can’t be afraid to die when someone else’s life means so much more to you than your own.
I have learnt that I am worth it after all. I have learnt that we are all flawed, but that’s okay. I have learnt how to be okay with myself. I have learnt what love is. I understand my God better now, because He is love.
And I am not lonely anymore. Now there is always someone there, just a message or a call or, at the best of times, a touch away. No joke is too silly, no secret too close, no worry too deep or no dream too crazy to share. I have relearnt what it’s like to laugh until you almost wet your pants, smile until your cheeks ache and become so happy you cry your eyes out (baffling but true).
I have learnt why people have two hands.
God has always held me, led me by my right hand. But that still left one hand empty.
It’s not empty anymore.
I have thanked God for my depression, but that is behind me now. Now, every day, I thank God for my boyfriend. Every single day. He’s one pretty amazing person.