My introduction to grief
When I was 9 years old, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 8 months pregnant with my sister when she found the lump. My sister, Hannah, was born on February 18th, and my mother had her mastectomy three days later.
We walked through the ups and downs of remission and recurrence of cancer for 6 years. When I was 15, I sat next to her, held her hand, and watched her breathe her last breath.
For years I struggled with depression, trying to figure out how to trust God, how to pray, how to be a part of the Church when I felt like my heart was crying out for answers that nobody else (my age, at least) was asking. I felt pressure to grieve the "right" way...to be able to answer that I was doing well when people asked me "how are you doing?" But I didn't even know why they felt like they could ask that question, much less how to answer it honestly....
My journey with depression
In August of 2009, just two weeks before my wedding, after battling depression for over 7 years, 4 years of counseling, and 5 years of begging God to intervene and rescue me from chronic depression, I was diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder. Since then, I have been on a journey of rediscovering my identity in light of the diagnosis, and coming to grips with the permanence and consequences of having a mental illness.
Depression and chronic mental illness is very misunderstood within the Church, and the world in general. It's hard for people to understand that praying and reading my Bible wasn't enough to heal me of depression. And for some it's difficult to comprehend how a Christian could have suicidal thoughts on a regular basis and still be walking with God.
Choosing to be open about this illness has been a difficult decision. There are a lot of stigmas associated with mental illnesses that can be hurtful. But I am convinced that as a society, we absolutely need to learn how to love and care for people with depression or mental illnesses.
I chose to start writing openly about this for two reasons: to try to offer hope to those who may be experiencing similar experiences, and to help bring deeper understanding of the complexities of depression and grief to those who have never dealt with it first hand.
Welcome to my story.