The Hard, Right Thing

On Tuesday, I am going to be checking myself into a residential facility outside of Chicago to receive more intensive treatment for depression. This comes after spending nine days at a mental hospital in Memphis because my suicidal thoughts became too great to bear. I knew my life was in danger, and so I made the hard choice to go back to inpatient treatment rather than give in to the darkness. While I did receive help in Memphis, it wasn’t enough, which is why I have made the excruciating decision to leave my family and seek further treatment. It is my desperate hope that by devoting all of my time to my mental and spiritual health I can finally find relief from the pain that has dogged me for months.

The idea of being away from my family for 30 days, which is the amount of time I will likely be gone, breaks my heart. I don’t know how my girls will ever understand why I had to leave them. However, I am praying that one day they will see that I sacrificed this time with them now so that I can be there for them for many more years to come. This is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done, but I also know it is the right thing. I pray that God will use it to bring me healing and to bring Himself glory, and I would covet your prayers for my family and for me.

I imagine there are those of you who are reading this who do not understand how I can leave my family, who do not understand why I don’t just snap out of this depression. I don’t write these words for you. I write them for the ones who are reading them and also feel hopeless and despairing, and I pray that my story encourages them to reach out and get help. There is love and support waiting. I have found more than I ever thought possible, more than I deserve. Even in the darkest night, the light of Christ shines brightly on me, as He shows His love for me through my dear family and friends and church.

The way forward is scary and unknown, but His Word promises to be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, so I will take it one step at a time and trust in the Savior who died for me.

the path among the trees

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Let Me Not Forget

Let Me Not Forget

When nature hints at spring, let me not
forget the frost of winter and
its bleak landscape, sharp with barren trees,
the cold hitting wind-chapped cheeks.

When the buds burst forth, let me not
forget the harsh, stiff ground and
my body moving across a frozen pond,
cracks spider-webbing the surface.

When the world explodes in color, let me not
forget the inescapable gray and
the way my cries were swallowed by the wind,
soft as a whisper, loud as a siren.  

When finally the sun’s warmth returns, let me not
forget the chill I could not shake and
the many ways I tried and tried
to thaw my frozen heart.

–Erin Mount

bare tree in the middle field covered in snow

Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

Well-Placed Trust

Yesterday I met with a new mental health provider–a mental health nurse practitioner. I was seeing a psychiatrist in town, but for reasons I won’t get into, I decided to look for someone new. Deciding to leave my psychiatrist was something I had thought about for a while before I actually did it; there are limited mental health providers in Jackson who prescribe medications (I see a therapist I love, so all I need is someone to manage my meds), and I didn’t relish the thought of starting all over with someone else. However, my last psychiatrist appointment confirmed for me that it was time to move on, and I was relieved when I found someone else locally whom I could see. This nurse practitioner came highly recommended by more than one person, which helped me make my decision. Still, I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the appointment. I worried that I wouldn’t like her or that she wouldn’t make any changes to my current medications even though it’s pretty clear they aren’t helping me like they should. I worried that she wouldn’t take me seriously or would rush through the visit.

I am so desperate to find something that will make a noticeable difference in my quality of life, and so I put a lot of pressure on this appointment and a lot of hope and also dread that it would not go well. But when I woke up yesterday morning, some Bible verses popped into my head, and I repeated them to myself throughout the day whenever I started to feel myself getting anxious. The words were from Psalm 20: 6-7: “Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Those words reminded me that my trust is only as dependable as the one in whom I’m trusting. If I place my trust in doctors, I will be disappointed every time, for they are imperfect and make mistakes. In fact, any human in whom I place my trust will eventually disappoint me, for we are all sinful. Placing all of my trust in someone to fix me and give me the help I need–while an understandable impulse–is short-sighted. Ultimately, my trust must be in God because He alone is completely trustworthy. He never makes mistakes, never forsakes His people, never goes back on His Word. When I trust God, I know I will not be betrayed.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 9:10, which says, “Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” I do not know God as well as I would like to or as well as I will in eternity, but I do know He is trustworthy. Throughout the pages of Scripture we see that God alone always keeps His promises, even when His people are fickle and wayward and foolish. I can trust Him with my life because He gave up the life of His Son so that I could live forever with Him.

Moreover, when I trust Him, I am guaranteed peace, for God will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Him because they trust Him (Isaiah 26:3). Peace has been something my mind has craved these past few months. I feel as though I am constantly restless and searching and fighting my thoughts–never calm and at peace–but I shouldn’t be surprised that this is the case since often my first impulse is to trust in myself or other people instead of trusting in God. This is not to say that some of what I feel isn’t related to the depression I’m experiencing, but I cannot excuse myself from putting trust in the Lord to help me minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

My appointment ended up going really well. The nurse practitioner was very kind, listened well, and took her time in making recommendations for next steps. It will be a while before I know if the new regimen is helping, so I once again find myself waiting. Meanwhile, I am hopeful and prayerful. I am trusting in the One who made me to continue sustaining me.

 

A Bruised Reed

img_5385If ever I felt like a bruised reed—like one struggling to stand against the wind, wilted and wounded —it is now. I have wondered if God cares and questioned whether He hears my prayers since He is not answering them like I want. Not only that, but there are many people besides me praying for God to lift the depression that has haunted me since the summer. If He won’t answer my prayers, why won’t He at least answer the cries of others on my behalf? He would receive glory from that, so why doesn’t He do it? I cannot understand, and my lack of understanding has led to doubts I have never felt before.

But the only thing I know to do is bring those doubts to God. What else can I do? Despair is my companion these days, but it cannot be my friend. My hope must be in Him, or there is no hope at all, for He is the author of hope.  I have to remember that my feelings aren’t the truth. If I let them rule me, I will come undone completely. I may not be able to pray much beyond, “Help me, Lord,” but all He requires is that I feel my need of Him. With Jesus, all I need is need.

So I do what my pastor reminded me to do and cling to what I know is true about God: that He gave up His Son for me. Jesus was sorrowful unto death (Matthew 26:38) and tormented in ways I cannot fathom, as He bore the full weight of God’s wrath for the sins of His people. This same God deals gently with me and will not break me. He removes my sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103). All His paths are steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 25). He is not withholding good (Psalm 84), so for reasons I may never know, this depression is for my good. He has given me all that I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Many days it is hard for me to believe that things can get better, but I remember the Lord’s past faithfulness to help me hope in tomorrow (Psalm 77). I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, and I trust that one day He will heal me completely.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

                                                                                 from “Rock of Ages”