But God...

Content notice: depression, suicidal ideation Crushingly weary, my ankles sore and my back crackling with pain, I took myself to church at Hillsong after a long shift —after a long week—at work. I don't know what propelled me to turn right instead of left out of the cafe and make my way toward the C at Franklin Ave instead of waiting for the bus that would have taken me to my soft bed, so I guess it must have something to do with God. Because somehow, I knew that I had—I just had—to get to church last Sunday.

See, I've been feeling pretty empty lately. I told my coworker that these days, I'm like tea running through leaves that have been strained too many time, rationed too many times, so instead of being strong and full of life and flavor, I'm weak and kind of bitter. I'm green tea that's steeped too long.

I'm weary, just exhausted, and I feel like I have nothing left to give; I felt, even Sunday, like I had no energy for worship, no joy in the singing and the dancing and the celebrating.

But worship is simply stripped-bare soul meeting Creator, and its beauty is in the fact that He will meet you where you are. And Sunday, as I sat and worshipped, I felt Him meet me.

Crystallize this moment in amber, I prayed, because I want to remember, to reflect upon and cherish, that moment of wonder.

Wonder was the theme of the night, as the message Pastor Carl preached was called "Stay Wonderful." I love a good clever sermon title, so I'm pretty fond of this one, which is about remaining filled with a sense of awe at God and his creation, namely, people and life.

I took more notes on the first part of the sermon (people are wonderful), but it's the second half that's struck a chord.

It's the part that says "life is wonderful" that truly resonates with me.

You see, I've always thought that, as much as I've always been in such a rush to throw my life away. It's a symptom of my depression that this thing I cherish so much—the mere fact of being alive—often became a burden on my shoulders, something to muddle through rather than exploring in joy.

I have memories, slightly vague, of being a child who was filled to the brim with this love of life. I thought it was so incredible, this chance we have to inhabit the earth for a few years, to love and grow and celebrate and emote. And somewhere along the way, my joy in life was tainted, soured, and suddenly I'm at a place where I don't know how to function if I'm not suicidal.

I feel like that sentence bears explaining, so: my go-to solution to a problem, almost any problem, is death. If there's interpersonal strife or I think I'm failing at work or I have writer's block, I jump to thoughts of killing myself. It's the path my brain has trod the most, and so it's the path I inevitably take regardless of what else is going on.

So whether or not I'm actively dealing with suicidal thoughts, it's my MO, the way I think; no matter where I am on the scale of not-depressed to hospitalization, if things go wrong, I dream of ending my life.

But life is wonderful, and keeping that sense of awe about life isn't just something that I need to do as it's part of God's calling on my life; it's something I need to do as it's part of what helps me counteract and redirect the thoughts in my head.

Easier said than done, of course. I can't just re-write the functions of my brain, forging brand-new paths from nowhere and hoping they'll stick. I'm weak. I can't do it.

But God.

This life is gonna be a long hard journey, my back bowed and aching with the weight of depression and cares, my feet blistering in agony, and I'm gonna need Him with me every step of the way to regain and retain my sense of wonder.

It's a hard task, a high calling, a big thing to ask of anyone, and no human could do it, really.

But God.

Here's the thing about my God. He is love beyond belief.

He created my flesh smooth and pleasing to His eye, and I took a blade and marred what he had loved. And though it cut him just as it cut me, He chose to love what he had made through what I had done to it. My fear has always been of ruining what He made.

But God.

He loves me regardless, and there's nothing I can do to change that. Nothing. Absolutely not a damn thing, no matter what I or you or anyone may say to the contrary.

And my God, He is strength. He is power. He is the ability to do all and more, above and beyond.

So yeah. I can't think of life as wonderful all the time.

But God.

He can. And through Him, so can I.

I may be weak,

but God

is strong in my weakness.

On depression: a prose poem

  Mental Illness

It coils itself to strike without so much as a warning rattle, fangs dripping with poison and ready to dart into flesh, retract, leave its venom to do the dirty work.

It sneaks up on you in the dark or in the light, a shadowless creature because it's made of darkness, sucking the light out of life. It doesn't make its presence known until it's too late, too hard to turn and run.

It sinks its claws into your soul and won't retract, and the only way to be free is to rip, rip, rip until a part of you is gone, forever in its clutches.

It is invincible, the king of the night, the harbinger of doom, the thing that stalks your thoughts and learns your patterns and serial kills its way through whole communities.

It sees you when you're sleeping...it knows if you've been good or bad...and then it tells you you've been bad, so bad, the very worst, and it's time to punish yourself.

It convinces you that the blade or the pills or the sex or the smoke will finally make you happy again, will wash you clean of all your wrongdoings, but once it's over all you feel is dirty in your soul.

It appears when you least expect it, sneaking from your mind and winding its way through your body, until you're racked with pain and sore and tired and numb and every thought is just...I can't.

It lies.

It finds your weakness and exploits it, but your weakness will not be your undoing.

My weakness cannot be my undoing.

I fill find a way. When it coils to strike, I will cut off its head. When it sneaks up, bringing darkness, I will shine a light brighter. When it tries to rip off my soul I will performs feats of magic to unhook it and remain intact.

I will not listen to the lies, the ones that overcome me, the ones that hiss, You should die, you should die, you should die.

It made me think death was my idea, my desire, the only way to save myself and others. It made me think the world would spin happier, spin brighter, if my breath were stilled. It made me think, just yesterday it made me think, that if my veins bled themselves dry then maybe I would be redeemed for my mistakes.

It made me think the only way to atone for sin is with my own blood. It made me think everyone's unhappiness stems from my existence.

I will not, I can not let it have its way with me.

My soul is weary, my heart sick, and all I want is to curl up and cry until I can be better. All I want is to eradicate myself and maybe let something new be born in my place.

I am weak. The world itself has sharp claws and they drag across my flesh, and when the blood runs it convinces me that is my fate.

But I will not let my weakness be my end.

I will gather what strength I have. I will fight. Till my dying breath, I will rage against the beast that seeks to best me. I will not go silently. I will not go at all.

My death will not be caused by my own hand. It cannot be. It will not be.

It coils to strike. I raise my blade.

Its head streaks forward. I drop my blade.

And in the end, I stand and it dies.