There are different seasons of life. I am beginning to think that the hardest two seasons of life are the first few years of motherhood AND taking care of an elderly parent at the end of life. Other hard seasons can be in your teenage and young adult years, job changes, family changes, etc.
I have had two specific seasons of life where I felt the “all seems lost” moment. My first was high school and college. The joys of your own identity. Where “cliques” come into play and popularity. Where not feeling like a part of something or feel like you mattered could cause major depression and mental battles in a teen/young adult’s life. This was my first struggle with my mental health, anxiety, and depression.
I am about to get real raw and honest here. I know someone needs to hear this. I know we as Christians, as a church, as a community, even as parents can do better. My years in the youth group at church were hard. Before I share, let me start by saying God was there and in control and even in the imperfect was working, especially in my own heart. People fail and are not perfect. We shouldn’t be putting our faith in pastors, book authors, mentors, and celebrities. We should be, however, wholeheartedly relying on God and use His Word as the ultimate authority. God does use pastors, teachers, leaders, books, music, and more to show us what He has in His word and more about Him. But, it must be coming from the Bible and not their own flawed thoughts and personal motives.
As a teen in youth group I never really felt like I “fit in” … there were cliques! There was a popular crowd and even many of the youth sponsors seemed to be with the popular crowd and not helping everyone. I was told if I just “tried” harder then the other teens would be friends with me. I felt like I had to be someone God didn’t intend for me to be just so I could be “noticed.” I felt unloved, unworthy like I had to have the perfect body and be athletic and super smart just so I could be a part of this group. When I was dealing with some personal and spiritual battles I didn’t feel like I could trust to many sponsors with what I was going through cause they seemed to not care or that it was “just me” and I wasn’t “trusting God enough.”
I seriously considered suicide in my teen years. And I hid all this. I hid behind a fake smile. I worked with our kids at church, I tried to get involved in so much to just feel like maybe I belonged there. To hide what I was struggling with and going through. To put aside the comments about me being overweight or that I was always “sick” and probably just making things up. To put aside hurt words said by sponsors and leaders in Christian ministry. Realizing youth group was more about “popularity” than actual Christian growth and your spiritual needs.
I did learn a lot though through those years. God did some incredible work in my life during this season. God was with me even on a bridge staring down thinking the world was better off without me. The Holy Spirit always stepped in, didn’t let me believe the lies Satan fed, did provide a few very Godly people and even a friend or two at that time. I did have a few youth sponsors who did seem to care, who prayed with me and encouraged me. Who pointed me back to God’s word, to help me try to grasp the concept of God is all I needed.
I made it through … with God’s help and His grace, with loving and supportive parents, and with a few biblical mentors who prayed with me and for me and encouraged me in God’s word.
Now fast forward to college. Long story short, pretty similar things to youth group. Not feeling like I belonged or fit in and major battles of my mental and even spiritual health. I fell in with the wrong crowd, ended up with an abusive boyfriend, was dealing with unknown health issues, everything was stacking together. I remember hitting a point where I was in the dorm bathroom, staring down a bottle of narcotics, in tears. Where was God? Did my life matter? Would anyone even miss me?
I started popping the pills, praise God, and honestly the work of the Holy Spirit I stopped about 3 pills in. Most of my dorm was out for the weekend so I just slept/was sick most of it and no one knew. I struggled with self-image, with my self-worth, with everything that was happening and my world was crashing down on me. Thankfully God provided some encouraging mentors at that time, and a year later my now husband who kept me going and pointed me to Christ.
I struggled some with depression, anxiety, value, and worth on and off the next few years. My health was improving and we were blessed with our miracle baby, Iris Rose. I mean the world was amazing, right? I had a family, a house, better health … no idea that postpartum depression was going to hit me almost a year after the birth of my baby (or maybe it was sooner but I noticed it later?) I felt like I was drowning. I was struggling so much but I put on that fake smile. I was lying to so many. I hoped my husband wouldn’t notice. I didn’t want to get out of bed, clean, take care of my precious baby … I remember my husband at one point saying “this isn’t you, if you can’t get some help I am going to take you to get some help.” I then remember just sitting in our bathroom, in tears, seriously thinking my husband and daughter, and even the world, would be better off without me.
This time was different, this time something prompted me to ask someone for help. It wasn’t specific and I didn’t explain the severity of where I was at, but I reached out to a friend. Now God had been orchestrating all of this up to this point. This friend became a friend by total accident. She was connected to someone I had ordered something from to help my overall health. We became friends over time and I trusted her as a medical professional as well. I remember asking her if there was anything I could take that wasn’t medical or strong if possible to help my mental/brain health and honestly overall health. She introduced me to where we are now. I am so thankful for her cause my life changed that day. That doesn’t mean I don’t still have some hard days, but to have something to help my health and wellness was huge! Not just that, but it now provided a whole community of support for me. Other moms struggling, people who could uplift and encourage, those who inspired me and spoke truth into my life. My battle has become less heavy thanks to Jesus Christ, a support group and counseling, and supplemental and nutritional help. And thanks to family who have loved me through it all.
You are not alone! God knows exactly what you are going through. He understands more than any of us can. But, there are others out there too, those who are also struggling with their own battles. There is hope.
If I have learned anything in this time it is that you must look to God and His word as the final authority. People will fail at times. But I also highly recommend:
- Biblical/professional counseling
- supplemental and nutritional support
- medical help if needed from a professional
- a support group
I am so thankful for the community I have both in my church and in the current business we are in. Thankful for all God has done, His provision in so many ways, and that He is faithful and provides grace and mercy.