There you are walking through your own life. You have your good days an occasional bad day but really just living your life. Then one day you wake up and find your story took a wrong turn overnight, leaving you a lost heroine in an unwanted narrative. This is part of my story of living 10 weeks in 2018 without joy or hope.
The sun was coming up on this cool October morning but all I felt was a grey and empty world. This was the third day in a row I had started out in a deep state of anxiety and it was taking a toll. Before this time I only had a handful of anxiety attacks, but this felt different and so much bigger than my past experience. I was sitting on the bed feeling a dark void swirling all around me, trying to suffocate me. For the first time in my life I understood why someone would take their own life.
I am typically an optimist to the point that it can drive people crazy yet now I felt this overwhelming hopelessness that I have never felt before and I didn’t have a clue how to deal with.
Each day was a struggle, but I did my best to maintain “normal”. Hindsight tells me I failed miserably at this. The tentacles of fear had wrapped into my thoughts and made it hard to see anything reasonably. I cried over the smallest details, and yet I was completely empty.
In the midst of this madness I felt fully separated from God. I prayed, praised, petitioned and worshiped anyway. It didn’t bring down whatever walls were between us though. While I didn’t feel His presence, I told Him often I believe I am yours simply because you say so, hoping that He would honor my feeble attempts at worship.
I was barely sleeping. Adding to this anxiety was a loud ringing in my ears. I have had it for years, but during this season it was worse. It took everything I had to get out of bed in the morning, not because I was tired (and I was exhausted but rarely slept) but because it seemed like there was no end to this insidious fear.
I had a Christian Writing Conference that I planned to attend before this void filled my soul. What was once an exciting event I couldn’t wait for became overwhelming to me because it meant driving 7 hours to get there and staying in a hotel by myself. This was something I have done many times but this time it consumed me with fear. I made myself go because I figured there was no better place to be when you are drowning than with 250 women who can cover you in prayer.
I did mostly ok at the conference. Well enough that when I got back I expected to see the light begin to shine through the darkness. As it turns out that was a really naïve thought because when I got home there was a whole new level of this nightmare that was bleaker and more hopeless than before, a level that made the deepest part of my soul weep.
What started out as extreme anxiety was now being diagnosed as full blown clinical depression, a world I never dreamed would touch me in this way. And the scariest part to me was, I had no idea what caused it.
By this point I was barely functioning at all, and lost the will to do much of anything. I knew that I was letting everyone down which only compounded the depression. I wasn’t the wife my husband deserved, the mother and grandmother I wanted to be or the friend that I used to be. I was also far from the kind of employee my company needed.
I no longer controlled my thoughts, my thoughts controlled me. I simply could not get out of my own head.
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name. Master, savior, Jesus, there is something about that name. Kings and kingdoms will all fall away, and there’s just something about that name.” Hymn There is Something About that Name
The hours I had spent on my knees early on in this process were no longer a part of my day. My Bible that had been open all the time, was now closed. But those hours in the dead of night when sleep was far beyond me, this scripture and song were my mantra, over and over and over. It was all I had to give to God in the midst of this empty darkness.
I was physically exhausted, mentally spent and spiritually lost. Would I ever find hope or peace again?