I sat in the bathtub and drained the water three times just thinking about what it would be like to never get out. Texted a friend and asked her if she felt like 2019 had kicked her ass as much as it had kicked mine. I prayed a long and pleading prayer with God to let 2020 hurt less.
I laid out all of the things people have told me over the last year that were supposed to make me feel better. That I’m too pretty to be sad. That the right guy will come along. That I should just relax. That there is no reason to starve myself. That it will all work itself out and I should just enjoy life. Well intended words, but uneducated conversations nonetheless.
I replayed a conversation from right before I graduated in May where I was told that I have too much good in my life to be this sad. That I’m selfish for being so down. That I have had the world handed to me, and even considering the idea of ending my own life was a low blow to everyone who has ever loved me. It’s all for attention. None of it is real. You’re just weak.
I counted blessings and called out names and recited my favorite hymnals. Wondering if my faith was too weak…the excuse people give me sometimes when they hear my story. Wondering if the sins I committed this year were too big and God was punishing me.
All of this happened. All of it. I sat in my bathroom for hours replaying 2019. Wondering why it seemed like my hardest year to date. Why I have questioned so many days if I am going crazy. Why I have lost so many friends because when they hear my story they think “yikes, she is too much for me”. Why I’ve had people look me in the eye and tell me with judgement that they’ve “read my blog” and then use it against me. Why I’ve cried in therapists offices and doctors offices and on the phone with sweet confidants who know all of the ugly details.
I brought all of it to the surface and realized just how much it all has hurt. How much it has scared the hell out of me. I realized how many days I have felt completely alone or completely unwanted. How many lies I’ve believed.
I drained the water again, dried some tears and finished praying with this, “God, please don’t let 2020 be like this. Please paint a different picture for me. This year was hard and I’m limping, barely crossing the finish line of 2019”.
I think 2019 molded me. I think I spent a lot of time in the fire. A lot of time learning what it really looks like to walk daily in a body that, let’s face it, is broken. A body with a mental illness. With a brain that misfires and goes too scary places far too easily. A heart that has been fully vulnerable to lies from the world and lies from the enemy.
I tell you all of this to really say THIS: friend, if 2019 kicked your butt then you aren’t alone. If you had more dark days than sunny days…I promise there are people who can empathize. If you felt like no one understood the pain, then I am right there beside you. If you’ve been covered with shame and told you’re a liar for trying to explain what was going on in your head this year…I feel it too.
I am limping into 2020. Tired and terrified. Raw and vulnerable. A little disappointed in the way things have played out in the last 12 months. BUT I’m expectant. Because God shows up in the middle of our hardest places. Our weakest and most defeated places. And he won’t let shame win. He doesn’t think I’m a liar. He doesn’t think you’re a liar either. He knows this world is broken and he knows mental illnesses exist. He continually creates the hands and minds that are finding ways to treat these things. He’s constantly working to help combat the darkness.
And finally, I am begging you to read these words: Don’t be the reason someone feels crazy. Don’t be the one to tell them their faith isn’t strong enough or that they just need to toughen up. Don’t be that person to complain saying that “people are just weak and don’t know how to handle their problems”.
Be a listening ear. Be a friend. Be the one to ask how you can help. Be the person to show up without judgement. Be educated in some way. Love your people. Everyone is carrying so much more than we know and if someone opens up to you, know what a privilege it is. Don’t bury them in a layer of shame.
Friend, If you’re carrying something scary. . . find someone you can share it with. Find a counselor or mental health specialist. Find a group. Tell a mentor or your mom or your best friend. Heck, tell me…I promise I want to know. You are worth it. No matter what you’ve heard in the past.
We aren’t meant to carry things alone. I know how lonely mental illness can seem. I feel it. I’ve felt it.
Please keep walking with me into 2020. Please keep telling your story and fighting your battles. Darkness feels heavy, but it doesn’t get to win. If there is anything I’ve learned this year….it’s that we just have to keep fighting the darkness.