In the past, I wasn’t one to vocalize my personal struggles — certainly not publicly on a website. But a lot has happened in a year, and so even though it’s still tough for me to share my pain and weaknesses with the world, I do it because I know it can help others.
It’s been one year since the darkest day of my life. The personal details of what led up to that moment are irrelevant, but essentially I was hospitalized with what the doctors termed a “nervous breakdown.”
It wasn’t just the emotional and mental breakdown that plagued me, but for the first time I had very dark thoughts of suicide. I had always been a strong person — the one who people could talk to or turn to at any moment; the one who always had it together; the one who seemed from the outside to have the “perfect life;” but now I didn’t know who I was or how I had gotten to this place. I was generally happy with the circumstances of my life, so why feel the need to want to end it?
During my four days in the hospital I learned that often it’s not circumstances that cause you to mentally break, but a chemical imbalance in your brain. Sometimes it can be a combination of the imbalance and one’s circumstances. For me, that didn’t matter; I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted the depression to go away.
I couldn’t have imagined the darkness of what I would go through in one year — the pain of a divorce; the heartache of seeing my children be a product of that divorce; my negative choices while trying to re-find myself; the gossip about me from people I loved.
But I also couldn’t have imagined the good — the excellent doctors; the friends and family who surrounded me with loving arms; doing the things I enjoy; growing closer to my kids; re-discovering the happiness in my career and in furthering my degrees; publishing my novels; becoming independent; traveling; meeting a man who’s kind and likes me and my quirks and despite my past; and finding that God has never left my side.
It’s the little things that give me joy — the smiles on my kids’ faces, the sunrise, the stars at night, the friend who texts me out of the blue to tell me that she’s thinking of me and praying for me. This is what I think about when I look back on my year.
It’s not that there aren’t still moments of grief and pain, because there are. But I’ve learned that this is normal, and I’ve learned how to properly handle it.
I share all of this not because I enjoy airing my personal life or because I want attention, but I do it because I’ve learned what it’s like to hurt, and that there are many more out there who are hurting too. It might be the pain of a divorce or other loss; it may be depression or thoughts of suicide; it might simply be a difficult struggle or time that you or someone you know is having. What I’ve learned is there’s hope and healing. It takes making the effort to not give up, it takes support from others, and it takes a road of ups and downs. But it’s there. Don’t ever believe that it isn’t.