By Heather Nelson
The yellow of the sun illuminated my room, awakening me from a restless slumber. The sunlight was a sign of a new day — a day removed from the comfort of my fuzzy blankets and my dogs, who would definitely come to snuggle with me. I looked at the clock on my iPhone: 9:15. Only two hours later than I meant to get up. I pulled my Red Sox blanket back over my head.
I wasn’t ready to get up. In fact, I didn’t know when I’d be ready. For the past three weeks, I rarely moved from bed. I didn’t have a fever. Or a sore throat. Or two broken limbs. I just didn’t have the will to move.
Each day became another obstacle. My body begged me to rest, but my mind raced 1,000 miles ahead. The overwhelming stress of adulthood hit — hard. I’d become nocturnal because of the sedentary life I’d created. But I couldn’t muster the energy to remove the blankets from my weak body.
I’d been neglecting my job during this time. I needed to fund-raise my entire salary by the second week in August. That time had come. I’d only raised $200 per month of support. The magic number? $3,200 per month. My head spun. I’d exhausted most, if not all, of my resources — my contact list — and still nothing came close. My next option? Quit.
Except that’s not something that I do well. I don’t like quitting. I’d never quit a job before. And this job wasn’t ordinary; we were supposed to decipher if it was God’s will for us to take this job… Almost all of my mentors said once you discern, God doesn’t choose a different path for you. (Plus, I believed I’d get to where I needed to be, if it was his plan. I never once considered quitting because I couldn’t raise the money.)
But God vanished from my life. I slipped into a place where I questioned — and still question — his existence. I was overwhelmed with extreme sadness, anxiety, insomnia and an overall loss of interest in life.
My phone rang for days, but I screened calls from higher-ups, unsure of what news to relay to them. I was supposed to be making progress, and I knew how the conversation would go:
“How many calls did you make today?” A made-up number. “How many appointments did you have today?” A made-up number. “How many people did you add to your list?” A made-up number.
I hated to lie, but I didn’t want to disappoint, and I figured that soon I’d have the strength to move again. This time, I spoke up.
“Evan, I’m not well.” I paused. I could feel tears welling; my throat closed. “I think about killing myself daily.”
It’s weird, but a year ago, I was at Lake of the Ozarks with friends — but so miserable inside — that I didn’t fully enjoy myself. This year, I returned with family. I’m reminded how truly loved, lucky and thankful I am.
That was a year ago. Since then, I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I’ve started therapy and prescription treatment. I quit my job as a campus missionary, and I started working at a daycare. I put my passions (writing & sports) to work with a few different blogs. Most of all, I’ve found stability.
What I’ve learned in the past year goes far beyond anything I learned in school. I learned that I hate big change, — when I’m not prepared for it — but I know how to manage that, now. I learned that life after college isn’t all that it seems. You live far away from your friends and have to make new ones. You don’t get your dream job right away.
Most of all, I learned that it’s OK to ask for help. You can be self-sufficient but still need assistance sometimes. You can choose to bottle up your problems or deal with them accordingly.
I spent years overwhelmed by anxiety and in between waves of depression. Because of the stigma, I was too afraid to ask for help. I thought that going to talk to a therapist meant I needed a laundry list of problems — crazy being at the top of that list. This is far from true. In fact, I’ve learned so much about how our minds work and how emotions are evoked since I started therapy.
The tools that my therapist gave me work far better than guzzling pain pills or avoiding the problem all together, which I did quite often. Instead, in the past year, I’ve gained confidence to take control of my life. I can ask for help when I need it. I light a candle and read or go outside to exercise when I’m stressed. I make lists. I created a vision board. I read self-help books. I write.
I’m not cured, and I won’t be, but that doesn’t mean I can’t live happily. Depression comes in ebbs and flows. But that’s life. I choose to be happy, and I’m thankful for the support system I have. Because without their help I might still be in bed with uncombed hair wearing yesterday’s clothes.
Celebrate we will. Because life is short but sweet for certain. — Dave Matthews Band