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Part Two: Depression

"Never trust your mind to heal. Never, never, never. Your mind needs as much healing as the rest of you. The instrument of healing in you is the soul."

Of all the qualities I respect about my mother, the one I admire most is her faith. It has never wavered or cowered. In fact, every time I challenged it (which was a lot) she would tell me to have faith. "Trust in the Lord. His plan is far greater than our own," she’d say.

{Insert eye roll}

I didn’t trust anyone.

Often for victims of child abuse, you learn not to trust or cut off that trust when you feel violated at your most vulnerable age.

After the divorce of my parents, my mom continued her daily prayers and would give thanks for everything (the gas in our car, the clothes on our backs, food, etc).

{Insert more eye rolls}

When I was in the third grade my family was in a long court case. It was painful. Around this time, I decided to give praying a shot. A majority of them were about my biological father. I prayed that he would go to jail or that he would die. Every time I heard sirens I would pray he was in the ambulance. My prayers did not involve gratitude. I still had my reservations about God’s existence.

What God would allow such terrible things to happen to good people? Why is there no justice?

By high school, I stopped attending church altogether because I was too angry with God and the events in my life. I hid behind a big smile, full social calendar and athletics. Outwardly my life looked great but internally I was overwhelmed with resentment. One day, my body began to show what was emerging within.

Just weeks before my high school graduation, I woke up with bruises all over my body. Both of my eyes were swollen and I couldn’t keep food down. My mom took me to the ER and I was transported by ambulance to another hospital’s pediatric unit. For two weeks, I laid in a hospital bed while several specialists came in and out to run tests.

By day ten, I lost fourteen pounds and my skin was yellow from jaundice. All I could think about was soccer. Am I going to lose my scholarship?

My mom called my biological father to keep him abreast on the situation. She put the phone to my ear and asked me to speak to him. I turned my head to the phone and told her I would rather die.

That is how much anger was inside me.

I was released from the hospital the morning of my high school graduation. I accepted my diploma in a wheelchair. Several weeks later I left for college.

"What drains your spirit, drains your body"

If you read Journey to Health, you know how college went for me. I played soccer and took medications. My college experience was overwhelming because I was just trying to stay well enough to play. I searched for meaning, self-worth and purpose. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, what major I wanted or what God’s plan was. But I did find God. On my yoga mat to be exact.

"Not long after becoming a devoted yogi, and a very inflexible one at that, I began to feel a shift. My body began to rest after years of insomnia. I stopped taking all medications. My heart began to feel again. On days I could not focus or be present while meditating, I prayed. I found my way back to God"

But at 20, with my whole life ahead of me I was ready to check out. I had been through too much and was struggling with depression. And then something terrible happened. In my senior year of college, a close friend of mine died.

The day of his service, I drove to Southern California. For five hours I sobbed and I screamed. I questioned God. My heart began to swell with anger and uncertainty all over again. But God, he had so much to live for. I just saw him. We’re only weeks away from graduation. I could’ve done more. If I had done more...  

I sat in the church and wept with everyone else. It was a beautiful service for a beautiful human being. He had so much to live for. Had he only known how much there was to live for.

I left the service and began to drive home. I cried. I prayed.

Thank you God. Thank you for my life. Please get me through this. Please God, please bring me closer to you.

And God did just that. In the death of my sweet friend, I witnessed life. New life. I promised myself I would get better without any certainty that I would. And on days that were harder than others, I found solace on my yoga mat while praying to God. In addition to this, I began therapy and reached out for support from family and friends (more on that in my previous blog).

Less than a year later, my stepdad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. By the time they found the cancer it had metastasized to his liver, spine and brain.  

Before he died, we had incredible conversations. Most of them were about death, heaven and restoration. I will cherish those conversations for lifetimes.

The loss of my stepdad hurt in a way that's hard to explain. My heart wasn't angry but it was broken. Broken so badly I didn't know if it would ever get better. I fell back into depression but I continued to trust. I continued to pray and began to attend church again. In 2014, I decided to get baptized. It was a pivotal time for me. Once again, in death, I witnessed life.

Tool #2: Love

"We don't love people and animals because we will have them forever; we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, realer. Loving makes us stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways. Even if animals and people leave, even if they die, they leave us better. So we keep loving, even though we might lose, because loving teaches us and changes us. And that's what we're here to do. God sends us here to learn how to be better lovers, and to learn how to be loved, so we'll be better prepared for heaven"

The loss of my friend and stepdad changed me. In time, my heart grew back stronger and more compassionate.

The same heart that was once made of anger, fear and pain has transpired into a more loving beat (even for a man I once hated). When you let go of despair, anger and resentment you make room for love. I no longer question my life's purpose or wonder why God gave me the life He did.

{Insert praise}

Quotes by Caroline Myss and Glennon Doyle Melton

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