The Other Side of Happiness

I've been there before. A happy place. A place where my soul is quiet and content. A place when I enjoy life and enjoy my family. And no matter how hard I try to swim back to the surface, this dark hole continually pulls me down. 

So I swim with all my willpower and I still sink. 
I swim with heartfelt prayers and fasting and I'm sinking. 
I swim with Scripture verses swirling around me and I quote them out loud and stamp them across the doorposts of my mind, yet I am gurgling for air and barely staying afloat. 

And the only thing that keeps me from sinking to the darkest place of no return is a tiny glimmer of hope. The hope that I remember dancing above the water before and this one verse, "A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest." (John 10:10) 

A Full Life.
An Abundant Life. 
A Life Set Free from the misery of my mind and my own thoughts. 

This thief is my enemy. 
This thief is my depression. 
This thief threatens to overtake me. 

It robs me of my joy and laughs in my face. It wants to kill. It is set on destruction. And many, many times I have considered the outcome of just letting go. 
Taking off this flimsy life vest and just giving in. Because for those who are in the darkest places of depression it just seems so much easier. 

To just make the thoughts go away. To just let go. To just sink down. 

And while it feels like such a selfish decision to an outsider, standing on the edge of the water, yelling at you to just swim harder, what they don't understand is the weight underneath the surface that is constantly pulling you down. And you are just so tired of fighting this battle and you are still sinking. 

Then comes a tiny life preserver telling you to hang on a little longer, reminding you of a full life in a Savior, begging you to just ask for help. Simultaneously the thief laughs a little harder and pushes you down even farther. 

Ask for help? People will think you are crazy. 
Ask for help? You obviously don't pray hard enough and your life is proof of that.
Ask for help? You deserve this punishment because you know the places you have been and you know what a puny, unfaithful Christian you are. This is just another example of how pathetic you really are. 
ASK for help? Your game is up. You aren't fooling anyone. Just give it up. Everyone would be so much better off without you. Sure, they will be sad for a little while. But they will move on and you'll be out of your misery. 

Ask for help? I came to give you a full and abundant life. Just let go of your pride and ask for help. I love you. I created you. You were made for so much more than this. It is time to ask for help. You will dance above the water again. Trust me. I am your Savior. You know me. Don't let go. The life preserver is here and although it seems small and you are so tired it will get you above water. Hang on, just please hang on. 

So the last shred of strength is given and one final stroke allows me to swallow my pride and make the call. First to my husband who desperately wants to help me but isn't strong enough to pull me out of the current. 

Second to my doctor. The one who walked alongside of me with all three of my babies and knows me. The one who asked me at my 6 week follow up visit how I was doing, and I lied and smiled and said just fine. Tired but fine. She is so glad to see me. She is so grateful I made the call. She thanks me for reaching out and she thanks me for asking for her help. 

A tiny blue pill. Taken once a day. I was actually prideful over this tiny blue pill. I am still praying. Still quoting Scripture. Still hanging on but the current is a little weaker. Day by day, I am trying to keep my head above water yet it seems that I am gaining. The surface is closer. Full and abundant life. I'm still tired but it seems as if I've gotten a second wind and I may see a small clearing in the sky. And then I realize that I am out of the dark water and I am standing on the surface. 

I survived it and honestly almost no one even knows that. It's funny how our society celebrates surviving diseases of the body but not those of the mind. But that's okay. I understand it. I'm not angry about it. Because I am looking back into the dark waters, they swirled around, they pulled me under time and time again, yet I swam back to the surface, grabbed onto my Savior, unleashed the anchor of pride around my ankles, and meekly called out for help. 

I survived the darkest depths of depression. I was so close to letting go. The thief threw such heavy weights on me, trying to steal what little hope and strength I had left. And one small verse, spoken by my Savior reminded me that He came to give me life in its fullest. And the Spirit living inside of me begged me to just ask for help. 

I've swam the waters of darkness on and off since I was a teenager but it wasn't until much later that I realized just how powerful my enemy is and how much he seeks to rob, kill, and destroy. Rob me of the joy that Christ brings and the wonderful blessings He has given me. Destroy the happiness of having a beautiful family and replace it with darkness. Kill the very hope that lives inside of me and top it off with lies about myself and my Savior. 

Make no mistake, I am a survivor. And I am learning to share this story and celebrate it. I have lived on the other side of happiness and I never imagined I would dance above the dark water again. But here I am and I am sharing this because I am living a full, free, and abundant life. On the shore, dancing and soaring above the water, and I see you struggling. 

Here is my story. A life preserver that I am throwing to you in the hopes that you will grab on. Praying that you will ignore the lies of the thief and that you will reach out for help. One stroke at a time. 


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