A Quarter of a Century
Today I turned twenty-five. Yesterday I dreaded the coming of today. Not because of my age, or even so much the fact is was my birthday. I resisted because the depression had settled in again a couple of days ago. I was worried that the darkness would still be heavy when I woke up. I was worried that it would be too much for me to get out of bed. I didn’t know how I could look into the faces of those who love me, and know that I was sucking the joy out a day that should be full of it.
And it happened. The morning came and I could barely breathe. I couldn’t get out of bed. The thoughts and emotions weighed me down. I saw the sun shining through my window. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face the brightness. I closed my eyes and turned back over. I laid there in the in-between state of being awake and being asleep. So much of depression is like that. When the mind and body feel numb there isn’t much of a distinction.
I had thought about going away the night before. I looked up hotels an hour from home. It would be better for me to be away, curled in a ball in bed, where my friends couldn’t find me. Where I wouldn’t have to look in their disappointed faces when they saw that I had been sucked into the darkness again. I couldn’t justify spending the money. I didn’t do it.
So I planned to not go into work for several days. I had to stay away. I had to protect the people around me. Those that were closest to me, and also those that didn’t know what I hide so well. My dearest friend text me. She wanted me to come in. She wanted to see me. I was twenty-five! Get out of bed and come see her!
The words I text back were full of anxiety and fear and mess. I couldn’t come in. I couldn’t get myself out of the house. She was excited and I was broken. I know my replies were rough and sharp. I hate the way I can treat those closest to me.
I could feel the smallest shift in me. I had enough energy to take a shower. Not enough to go in just yet, but enough to take that first step. I’ve learned how this works. Take that one step that you have the grace to do. The rest will come.
I took a shower. I sent a text. Someone else at work was asking for me. He needed to ask me something. Two of my kids got out of school early. They would want to see me. Again I couldn’t do it. I felt the anxiety. I felt the tears rising. I couldn’t do it. I hate how I fall into this person I don’t recognize. This person who can’t function like a normal adult. The person that is so unlike who I really am. This crazy person who I’ve struggled to fight against the last year. It’s getting so much better, but it still comes up. And I can’t make it go away.
I felt enough grace to grab my keys. I got in my car. I drove. I went the long way and drove through the country for a bit. I pulled in the parking lot and walked through the door. I made it.
My dearest friend told me Happy Birthday. The smile on her face, made my shaking body calm down. I love this woman more than I can ever express. Knowing that she knows everything about me, and deals with all of my craziness, and she still loves me, is more than I can handle at times.
The depression was still heavy. I could feel it slowly easing though. Talking to my friend always helps. Being near to her, makes me feel safe.
I went down the hall to see what was needed of me. There was someone else in his office. He told me that he did need me and he'd be out to see me in a few minutes.
When he came out he told me he needed me to come in so he could tell me Happy Birthday and give me a hug. This gruff man, who is so much like a father to me, pulled me in for a hug. I resisted. I wasn’t able to receive yet. There was still so much going inside me that I couldn’t accept the love that was being offered by so many. I was mad at him for tricking me to get me to come in.
When I get like this I feel so guilty. So often I want to leave, because I don’t like treating people this way. I’ve never been this person before. I’ve always been the one to love others with everything in me. Depression has changed me. Jesus is changing me as he brings healing. There is grace for when I’m in these spots. Those who love me, know what I’m going through. And the fact that they still love me through all of this is more than I can handle.
As I stood there at the desk in my church, I could feel myself slowly returning back to normal. Getting out of my house helped. Getting out into the sunshine and fresh air helped. Being near to the ones who care about me helped.
Later I asked him for another hug. I needed another, now that I was ready. Again he hugged me and I was able to return it. I knew that I was loved. My heart was open.
I had no plans for my birthday. I didn’t allow plans to be made. I resisted them, because I was scared. I was scared that today was going to be a bad day. And it started out that way. My dearest friend changed that. She was patient and waited for me to come to her. She went to the store last night and bought decorations for my office. She bought me Reese’s eggs which are my absolute favorite. And she loved me. She loved me with that unconditional love that I have learned will never change. She hasn’t left me yet. And I doubt that she ever will, after all that I’ve already put her through.
I spent the next several hours just being near her. We talked and we laughed and everything felt normal again. I don’t know what I would do without her. I stood close to her as we were looking at her computer. I like being near to her. It annoys her when I’m so close that she can’t move. Sometimes I let her have her space. Other times I forget all personal boundaries.
I apologized for the way I acted. I hate the way I get when the darkness consumes me. I told her that I don’t mean for this to happen. She knows. She knows my heart and where I’m at. I’m trying. I’m working through my mess and the last few days have been hard.
We decided to take a trip out of town tomorrow. We booked a hotel. I had plans for my birthday. The day was redeemed.
I don’t know what I would do without my dearest friend. Through the last few years I’ve put her through so much. This last year was the worst. But she’s still here for me. She still loves me. She still begs me to stay at her desk and talk to her for another couple of hours. This same woman who has seen the worst of me. This woman who has her own family to raise and take care of. This woman who has allowed me into her life, even in all of my mess.
So my 25 birthday has been a rollercoaster. But I made it. I have much to look forward to. I have so many people who love me. My mess didn’t consume me today. And I realize that I’ve made it 25 years in this world. A quarter of a century. And with all that I’ve been through, that’s saying something. I can look back at the last year and see that so much has happened. God has done more than I ever even hoped for. And yes there is so much farther to go. I recognize that this next year has new challenges to face. But I have some pretty awesome people to help me through it.