The first day of the year is just a day. It’s also a reason to look back and contemplate the year’s past and to have renewed hope for the year to come. January first, 2012 had especially high hopes for me as I had been married all of two days. Having my husband by my side made all the difference this year. I know it would sound better if I said, “God and my husband,” but the truth is that God is always there and has been all my life. Sure, I’m learning to trust Him more but I’m always learning to trust Him more. This year was different because I also had my husband to lean on. I believe that God provided Andrew to me for the leaning and it made all the difference. It was a hard year which ended in a depression.
I’ve waded through depression my whole life. Sometimes every day feels for me like that dream where you are trying to walk (or run) somewhere and you can barely move. The direction is clear but you just can’t get there. Other times it’s like my body has this dense fog settled into it and I just can’t think clearly. The fog sucks all of the joy and hope out of my chest and I can’t breath (think the dementors in Harry Potter) . I had taken an anti-depressant for two years and the month I got married, I stopped. I felt fine for most of the year but then November hit and I started the slide into the deep unknown.
With clinical depression, which is what I live with, the condition never really goes away. There isn’t a cure, only maintenance; a process of taking care of the physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing of oneself. There are good periods of time where I don’t think about it at all and there are bad periods of time where my life is as I just described. The bad periods don’t come on for no reason; there are usually circumstances which set off a downward spiral of emotions. November began a series of those events.
The first three weeks of November were spent in Indonesia (For details read, A Journey Overseas). While I was there, my husband told me about an opportunity to move into a nicer, newer, bigger house with a significant decrease in monthly cost than our current two bedroom mobile home. While I was excited about the opportunity, I find moving incredibly stressful and I had to wait 2 1/2 weeks before I could start organizing and packing.
The trip itself was hard. Unlike other overseas trips to Eastern Europe and Russia, I couldn’t embrace the culture as easily. Indonesia has a large population crammed onto small islands (not the best situation for someone with a diagnosed “crowd phobia”). The mindset of the asian culture is basically the opposite of western courtesy. It is very much every man for himself, push your way through to get what you want where you want and don’t worry about those around you. “Me. Me. Me.” Don’t get me wrong, there were positive aspects of the trip but I was out of place, an obvious minority, missing my husband of only ten months, and anxious about the upcoming move.
I was ecstatic to get home to my husband and the adventure of moving into our new home. The only catch was that our current lease wasn’t up until the end of May 2013, so we had to wait until a renter was found to take our place. So we waited. It took two months to find a renter and the “unknown” started to wear on my anxiety. “Unknown” seemed to begin to crop up everywhere in my life, actually. I extremely dislike the unknown.
I returned from Indonesia the week of Thanksgiving. I was jet-lagged and the depression had already started to settle into my bones. One week later, my church announced devastating news that the head pastor would be resigning due to a year long affair. This church was the first church I had ever felt truly comfortable. It was a safe place where I could grow spiritually and heal a lot of my emotional and spiritual wounds of the past. I met my husband there and was married there. Andrew and I are both invested deeply in ministry at this church in many capacities. My church is where I find my friends and community. This announcement hit hard and suddenly, my “safe place,” in my world of “unknown” also became an unknown.
My church is now on a long journey. It’s been a challenge to worship but we do. It’s been a challenge to continue to do ministry but we do. It’s been a challenge to see God move but He is, and in big ways. It’s been discouraging and yet completely encouraging all at the same time.
So, from Thanksgiving, all throughout Advent, my world became less and less known. I needed a plan, stability. Andrew and I couldn’t even decide on how to spend our Christmas–his family or mine or both?–until just a few days before. Depression, life unknown, and Wal-mart less than a week before Christmas sent me down the dark path called Anxiety Attack. It was probably the worst one I’d had…but that was the turning point.
We made it through Christmas and prepared to celebrate our first anniversary when we got the call that finally began to lift me out of my fog; renters had signed a lease. We could make plans to move! Plans!
From that point on things began to look up for me and I found hope again. Looking back at a year where I had
a new husband,
changed jobs twice,
packed to move twice,
saw my husband in and out of four jobs,
lost a cat to cancer,
had family relational problems,
and church tragedy…
I guess I ended up ok. God is still God. I love my husband more today than I did one year ago. I’m a week away from moving into a great house. I’m about to be an aunt for the first time. I really like my current job. We have money in the bank. I survived the great unknown of 2012 and so I know that God will help me to survive all the other unknowns of the future.
Here’s to 2013!