It’s been a while since I hated being alive, but having clinical depression for an extended period of time will always be part of me in a way that I would no longer sacrifice. I have grown older and come to respect the things I learned during seasons of being miserable, and now that I’ve gotten some distance from it, my lifestyle is still marked by those lessons.
This is the first weekend after the first week of school. While it may seem like the time I’d most want to spend with friends and other people, it’s quite the opposite. You see, I’ve learned that transitions take their toll on me. The same sensitivity that can render me in tears in no short time also lets me see the beauty of this world so deeply. It is part of my brain that I need to be who I am. I don’t always like it, but it’s there, and I’m learning to shelter it. Emotional highs and emotional lows withstanding, I needed a good amount of time for myself this weekend.
If I invest in adjusting to the school year slowly and letting myself process these big changes and challenges, I will have more time to give away later. I will be able to endure without getting sick once my immune system starts to buckle under the pressure. I will ease myself into the self care that accompanies a new semester, and I need no one but the grace of God to get me through the rest; which is the sweetest blessing I could have received after angry years of forced dependence on medication. I don’t have “control” over my life per se, but God does. I hated having to take those pills. I buried the first batch in the backyard when I was just 14, but I eventually became so worn down and bare that I knew no other solution. Now, I will never need them again.
During all that time, I was slowly but inevitably led in a direction that would eventually heal my life wholly: Christ. Like my bones were poking out of my flesh, I searched for his Holy Spirit for what felt like ages before I found a love that sticks, and even a while after before I was able to surrender. But God is good, he forgives, and he guides my steps now. Respecting all that he does in taking care of me is just another reason that I have to prioritize taking care of myself.
If I start to feel like “I need to hide”, I have to respect that feeling. I have to be honest with friends. I have friends who actually listen now, by the grace of God. It hasn’t always been that way, but these blessed companions shelter my life and care for my sanity. They don’t want me to be unhealthy.
I spent the majority of yesterday and today alone, which can be difficult as a most-of-the-time “extrovert” (those labels are flexible, friends). I needed the time, so I forced myself to rest. I napped. I never freaking nap. To me, this is strength: that when I have something that only I can give myself, I can recognize that God would not want to deprive me of the health he intends will be mine. He doesn’t want me to starve my mind for it’s self-regenerative peace. He knows I need to be alone, and he draws me into communion with himself during those resting times so that I can worship instead of being bored stuck in my room. He loves me. It’s not really empty, you know? It’s time with God. Even better than the time I would spend with other people. I don’t resent that I have to self-care anymore. I no longer see the time I have to take to level up to a standardized level of sanity as a curse anymore, because it’s simply more time to spend in worship. This is another way that the weak and brokenhearted may just be the luckiest ones on the earth: that the promises of the Lord specified in the Beatitudes may be especially real and live-able to us. We who seem to need more peace than the rest of them: we can find our fullness in God.
We can view healing and sacrifice as a penalty, or we can remember how God sees us: as more than conquerors. Christ died so that we could prevail over all sorts of mental health, physical illness, and not knowing what it means to savor the life he put in us. We have his strength in our bones because he swapped out his love for our brokenness. Consider it a spiritual transplant. Better than pills, like the rib of Adam in the body and the blood.
I promise you that if you started close to empty, you will have more abundance in Christ than even those who were born “healthy”. I promise it. I know that God loves you. I know that he’s good. In Christ is the true path that leads to a supernatural recovery; not only casting off our physical bodies but the brokenness and fear that traps us within our own minds. We can put on the new self. Christ has made a way for you to be free of this.
You may always have to care for yourself, but the thing is, nothing you can do for yourself will ever compare to all that Christ already did. By that metric, we are all imperfect caretakers, you, your “healthy” friends, everyone. We all die. We all have struggles, let no one deceive you. Christ is the Provider no matter how empty we may appear, or whatever needs we bring to him. It’s gonna be okay; and because of his lack of partiality, he sees us all the same. With love. Lack of health doesn’t disqualify you from receiving the gifts he has for you, it may only make it so you can see him for who he is as a Healer a little more clearly. You are loved. You will live to see the day where you are blessed.
Even if you did something to deserve pain or disease, we are all loved so tremendously that God would forgive even the worst of crimes. You can savor his love over your self-blame. You can allow him space to accommodate your doubt. You can allow him to just sit with you when you are scared and you don’t know. Healing and Salvation doesn’t have to come from you. It can’t. But the health God will bring into your life is just another speck of how greatly he loves you. Even when it feels so enormous that on a baseline level, you know that you could never deserve it.
So, here we are, Internet. One large, WordPress Church family. Your brokenness is enough. It’s gonna be okay. Even if it takes years longer and you just have to keep fighting it. You will not be alone. We’ll all sit here and most likely keep blogging together. And life will go on and get better over time in the light of our Savior. It’s gonna be okay.