I just spent the most amazing week back home.
Apart from the rainy days ruining my plan to spend the majority of my days lounging by the pool, I could not have enjoyed my time with the family more.
Ironically, it was during one of these laugh-til-you-can’t-breathe moments that my soul was devastatingly crushed.
We were watching old home movies. You remember those big clunky camcorders with the VHS tapes? Well right there, in between shots of my kids opening Christmas presents and blowing out birthday candles, I sat. There, but not really.
There was NO LIFE.
It broke my heart, not so much for myself, but for those kids on the screen.
I was depressed, locked away in my mind, detached from my surroundings, by all accounts, dead.
The video reminder was painful.
It wasn’t like I’d forgotten. Over the years, I’ve counseled many men and women struggling with depression. I’ve been there, I’d tell them. I know how frustrating it is to hear, Just snap out of it! I know what it’s like when suicide oddly seems like a lifeline.
But seeing this?
I was mad. Furious at the woman I saw. I, too, wanted to shake her and make her wake up to the life around her. I wanted to tell her how selfish she was. I wanted to warn her that her actions would have forever consequences on those babies scattered around her. Most of all, I wanted to hug her and tell her that it was all going to work out all right.
I went to bed crying that night and even now, reliving the memory, I can’t stop the tears.
She was me and yet I don’t even know her.
I wish I’d had the foresight then to turn to the Lord instead of medication.
Back then, I thought antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines were the only things keeping me going.
Looking at the woman on the screen, I now know I was wrong. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was barely living. At best, I looked sad. Mostly I looked like a zombie. The drugs designed to give me back my life took even more away from me.
I remember the week I got off the medication. The first three were excruciating. Like a 72-hour tornado blowing through my body. Then came the calm. My mind was reset. My body was reset. I felt like a child again. My brain started throwing out memories of old Atari game patterns. Pitfall. Pac-Man. Frogger.
It was like I got a factory reboot.
That was almost twenty years ago and I haven’t forgotten the excitement of that new (old) brain. It was like He scrubbed the viruses off and restored it to mint condition.
There have been ups and downs, of course, but I’ve never returned to that deep, dark hole I resided in for so many years.
I only wish the woman in the video had surrendered her life sooner.
(Please note that I am not encouraging anyone to get off their medication or stop seeking treatment. This is a retrospective look at my life and what has worked for me.)