October 3, 2014

just like her momma

My sweet little baby Elliot turned two years old today.

She is a fireball. She laughs loud, screams louder, and you never have to guess how she is feeling.

She is so much like me.

She looks so much like her daddy...but wow, I am just never in doubt that she is my daughter.

 I find myself resonating with her passion, her feisty "NO!", her constant desire to "GO GO GO!"
And I often wonder...will she be just like me? 
Will she suffer from thinking that God has abandoned her?
Will her brain struggle to produce enough chemicals to be happy?
Will she cry herself to sleep for a decade?
Will she feel like a constant failure?
Will she consider ending her own life?

Being a mommy is crazy amazing; it is also terrifying.

And so, on my daughter's second birthday, a letter to her, words that I hope she will never need. But if she does, I hope these words wrap her up tight and help her know without a doubt that she is loved, she is safe, and that she is not alone. 

Dear Elliot, 
You are two years old today.
I watch you running through the house, shouting "GO GO GO" and asking with excitement in your voice "Go outside? Gonna go outside?" and my heart squeezes tight. You are bursting with joy; your smile and laughter fills our house and I wonder, will you lose your love for life someday? 
I think of my own mommy, and I wonder how she would have handled my depression. I wished so many times she could have been there to love me and hold me and wipe away my tears. She made me laugh. She made everything so fun. I needed her so badly. 
If you are depressed someday, I hope I am there for you. I hope we have a relationship in which you can trust me with your pain. 
But just in case, Elliot Kaylene, please hear these words.

First of all, this is not your fault. Being depressed does not make you a failure. It does not make you less of a Christian. There is no way to pray yourself out of depression. There are no formulas to make it all better. Your brain is struggling to produce the right chemicals it needs to be "normal". That's it. It's not simple - in fact, brain chemistry is extremely complicated. But please, if you hear nothing else, please here me now: this is NOT YOUR FAULT.

Elliot, God is near to the brokenhearted... but's okay if you don't want him near. It's okay if you swear at him and tell him to leave. The reality is, He will never leave you. There are so many times in my life that I look back on and know he was near, even when I didn't want him to be. He's kind of annoying that way, like a best friend who won't leave you alone no matter how mean you are to them. There's nothing you can do to change that. He doesn't care if you're being a jerk. He doesn't care if you say the f-word in church (trust me) and he doesn't care if you don't read your Bible. He loves you because you are HIS. And again, he knows that this depression is not your fault.

On that note, let's talk about Christians. Elliot, there are a lot of Christians who have no idea how to handle depression. They really aren't terrible people...at least not all of them. They aren't mean; I think more so they are just stupid. Honestly, I'm surprised I never caused bodily harm to anyone at church. It's okay if you don't want to be around large groups of Christians right now. They aren't all bad...find a few friends who love you for who you are, who know that you are just trying to survive right now, and be with them. Let them care for you. Don't feel guilty for not attending church.

Finally, sweet Elliot, do everything you can to care for yourself.
Try to sleep as often as you can.
Be with people who make you laugh.
Be with people who understand when laughing isn't an option for you.
If you need to eat a big steak every single night for a week, do it. Add a pan of brownies too.
If you need to binge on your favorite TV show instead of going to school for a day, do it.
This is a season. This is not forever. And right now, the priority is finding joy and rest where they can be found.

This is not your fault. You will get through this. You are an amazing person with an annoying brain. Your depression does not define YOU, it just defines a season of your life in which you had a chemical imbalance in your brain. Someday, you will look back and see the ways God was faithful even in this season. Until then, swear a little, eat a pan of brownies, and try not to hurt any stupid people.

You are loved with an everlasting love.

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