Wednesday, 25 June 2008
I remember being 13 years old and saying to myself, “I’m not a Christian anymore.” I was in the “back back” part of my five acre yard (behind the shed where my sister and brothers rarely went), sitting on the lawn and looking up into the sky, my Catholic school uniform still on and my text books sprawled across the uncut grass.
My family was unreligious. We never went to church on Sundays like all my classmates’ families did. I learned the Sign of the Cross, the Apostle’s Creed, the Seven Sacraments, etc, but never utilized them in my everyday family life. I talked the talk, but never walked the walk so to speak.
My father was an abusive man and my mother an alcoholic. We were a close-knit family but the lingering presence of my father’s anger always overshadowed any true happiness that my two older brothers, younger sister and mother could have together.
Despite this, I had a love for God only a child could possess. Praying to Him every night was a highlight and I knew he was there. It surpassed a “belief”… it was true knowing. I never doubted it.
But then divorce came, the ugly thing. I couldn’t remember a time when my father wasn’t a nasty man, when he didn’t abuse my mother… yet I still was asking God “why?” How could He do this to me? How could He let my mother drink herself to stupidity and allow my father to beat her?
I remember having to write a sentence or two in religion class about God. I stared at that piece of paper for more than fifteen minutes, completely blank as for what to write. I didn’t know who He was anymore. I never handed that paper in.
By the time I was 14, I had been diagnosed with both bipolar II and social anxiety disorder. I had started to cut myself, along with having panic attacks so severe I was unable to function in a mainstream high school. By age 16, my parents were divorced and I knew I would never see my father again. I had attempted suicide two times. By 17, I was drinking every night and becoming more and more promiscuous with the opposite sex.
I never felt the presence of a god. I was more alone than I had ever felt before. I was no longer a child. I had grown up much too fast for my own liking. I had given up everything. I had nothing left to offer. If there truly was a God, He wouldn’t want me.
Then, on February 20, 2008 my boyfriend broke up with me. I can remember looking at him as if I couldn’t understand what he was telling me. Not having a father, not having a god, I clung to any male attention I could find. Now, with this happening before me, there seemed to be no one who could ever want me.
On that day, I popped an entire bottle of prescription anxiety medication with one gulp. It was my third suicide attempt in five years. I don’t remember who found me. I was rushed to the emergency room.
I tell people that I heard God in that place. It was so completely foreign to me; I couldn’t even place it at the time. While lying in that bed in the inpatient mental health section of the hospital, I wrote down my thoughts. I wanted to feel anger, hurt, resentment, but strangely enough, all I could feel was an overwhelming sense of love and forgiveness. I cried. Not because of any sort of depression, but because I knew that I was being forgiven.
After I returned home, I began going to church regularly. My good friend Antoinette welcomed me to her fellowship where I met the most amazing group of people; a group of people that keep me in line with my abusive behaviours. They have shown me His Word and every Sunday I use the talents He has given me to sing to Him. I’m still too shy to ask to be in the worship team, but I’m getting there!
Believing in God is the only way to get through life and conquer depression. I believe this with all my heart. I still struggle just as every human struggles… but with God on my side, I will never return to that place again. And I thank Him for that.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121: 7-8)