Over the past 18 months or so, I have attempted to share a glimpse into my ongoing battle with anxiety and depression. Lately, I have been hesitant to write much about it, as I certainly do not want to sound like a broken record! Looking back on this past year, I feel like it might be worth another try, so here goes!
God has walked with me (and my family) through an intensely tough year. There have been periods in this year that have been peaceful, and even serene, but there have been some very dark points, as well.
In January, one of my closest friends took a turn for the worse in his battle with cancer. In March, David's battle ended. I'm so thankful that he is no longer in pain, but the void he left in Austin is HUGE! It took me months to fully realize the impact that his death had taken on me. David was my encourager here... he was my pep squad. At his funeral, I heard that about him from a lot of people. I was so fortunate to call him my friend. Almost a year ago today, he and I went to lunch. He and I had been discussing what I was going to teach at an upcoming overseas youth camp. I was nervous about sharing my personal story with these students, as I did not want the focus to be on me... After listening to me talk about it, he stopped me and assured me that he had no doubt that I should share my story at the camp. Dave was right. I needed to share, and it opened the door to so many conversations with both teens and adults during that week. Amazing. I miss him... a LOT.
I guess the thing that surprised me the most this year was how much some of my relationships with others changed. Of course, there was the loss of Dave, but 2014 ushered in some relationship changes I had not expected. As a communication major in college, we learned that all relationships are either in a state of increase, or in a state of decline. There is no middle ground. While some relationships have grown over this past year, I have been surprised at a few that have declined this year. I am just realizing the sense of loss that can occur when this happens.
This year has often been confusing, sad, and lonely. I guess part of this is the mourning over loss and change. However, I think that a large part of that has been trying to either handle the emotions myself, or simply trying to ignore them and act like they do not exist. Neither works. I must be honest... there have been times that I have been frustrated with God. Why did He seem so silent? Why did He not change hearts or outcomes? While I still do not have all the answers to those questions, I do know that these things have caused me to more deeply rely on the Lord. When Satan comes at you with a full frontal (and rear, and side, top, and bottom) spiritual assault, you only have one option... and that is to rely completely on the strength and power of the One who came to save us all... Jesus. To quote an old hymn, "For without Him, how lost I would be."
I know that there are many out there that struggle with anxiety and depression. I also know that the lack of affordable counseling, and negative social stigma that it carries often make people keep these issues to themselves. If that is you, I encourage you to talk to someone... find someone that can point you in the direction of Godly counsel. Trying to face these things alone is terrifying. I just hope that my sharing all of this will be of some benefit to someone else out there. Just remember... you are NOT alone... even when your every thought tells you that you are.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." -- Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)