By now, surely, the flames have spread to the living room. The Christmas tree with twinkling lights, the heirloom harp, our wedding photos and Bundle’s baby album…where is the cat?! Why aren’t they here yet?!?!
A million thoughts zapped through my mind like electricity, shaking my body, as I waited for the emergency responders to pull up and blast our home, our new-to-us, perfect, ready-to-grow-in home we’d purchased six months prior.
The holidays were hard. My daughter’s first birthday was hard. Getting through work each day at a job I loved with children I loved was hard. Relaxing was even harder. Communicating with my husband seemed near impossible.
This was my life post-fire for six solid months. I watched my house be rebuilt, from the studs to the ceilings. I watched the perennials bloom around me as winter turned to spring. I watched my daughter grow into a beautiful one-year-old. I, however, remained stuck. Stuck in time, empty and hollow. With everything going for me, but nothing to keep me going.
Where was God? I didn’t know. I also didn’t care. Wasn’t it Him who destroyed my hopes and dreams for my family in fifteen minutes flat? Or was it me…so consumed with my family and job and new house that I didn’t have the proper amount of time to allot to God? Was He punishing me?
Cupboard doors were slammed and smashed in anger over tiny spills. Phones were thrown across rooms upon hearing one negative comment. I would sob uncontrollably mid-diaper-change. Nightmare after nightmare haunted me, and yet, every morning waking up was a battle. Obligation to work kept me from staying in bed all day, but guilt about missing out my daughter’s life plagued me. Anger, Guilt, Fear. And vicious, seemingly-endless cycle.
This was my battle with depression. Brought on by post-partum problems and a tragic bout of anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I was a wreck for months until my husband and I finally had a heart-to-heart, and I agreed to talk to my GP.
Countless appointments, floods of tears, and three medications later, I felt myself emerge from the horrible depths of nothing. That’s what it feels like, nothing. There was a specific moment I felt happiness, clear as the Kansas summer sky, for the first time in months. I was rocking my daughter back to sleep after an early morning feeding, processing the day of work ahead of me. Suddenly, I realized I was smiling. Genuinely smiling. I remember thinking, “Wow, suddenly my life does not feel like it’s ruined forever!”
When I explain depression to people, my thoughts and behaviors, it seems silly and irrational. That’s because it is. Medically speaking, your brain chemicals are imbalanced, and because of that, your emotions run haywire. Depression can affect people many different ways. For me, it caused extreme irrational behavior, feelings of anger and emptiness, and constant fear and anxiety.
But that beautiful 4 a.m. morning, the anger began to dissipate. The fear, if only for a second, faded. That single moment brought enough fresh air into my spiritual lungs to give me a fighting chance. I finally felt a little hope, a little courage to keep trying to see the glorious color in my life that had been clouded by despair for months.
There was progress.
Slowly, there was Hope.