This past year honestly doesn’t feel like much to celebrate.
Depression showed up to every party uninvited and didn’t get the hint when I asked him to leave. He brings his friends comparison, discontentment, and anxiety and they ruin the entire event.
My 25th year should have been the best year of my life. I got married, traveled to Europe, started working at NASA – it sounds amazing, right?
No matter the combination of events and sweet ingredients, when you sprinkle in even a drop of depression, the outcome tastes pretty sour.
I was texting back and forth with a friend just a few days ago when I told her this had been the hardest year of my life. Her response: “I had no clue.”
Most people didn’t know nor did I want them to. I actually started crying to a Taylor Swift song recently (which is not unusual), but this one was because it resonated way too deep in my soul.
“Tied Together With a Smile” – Taylor Swift
Seems the only one who doesn’t see your beauty
Is the face in the mirror looking back at you
You walk around here thinking you’re not pretty
But that’s not true ’cause I know you
Hold on, baby; you’re losing it
The water’s high, you’re jumping into it
And letting go, and no one knows
That you cry; but you don’t tell anyone
That you might not be the golden one
And you’re tied together with a smile
But you’re coming undone
How many of us are coming undone inside, in bed at night, alone while we drive, but the rest of the world just sees the smiles and the laughs? And the smiles and laughs are real! There is a misconception that depression always looks a certain way – that you always disappear and lie in bed for weeks and ignore all your loved ones. WRONG. Depression looks different on everyone.
For me, it has looked like pouring my soul out to everyone around me except myself, my husband, and my Jesus. I have neglected the three most important relationships in my life because I have overloaded my schedule in hopes it would distract me from my depression.
Listen when I say – Distraction is never the solution to depression.
The only solution to depression is Jesus. (Do not misunderstand this to say it’s not ok to take medicine – I have friends who take medicine for depression, and if you need it – TAKE IT.) The solution to everything wrong with this world is Jesus.
And that’s the problem – I went to everything but Jesus for help.
“But Kaitlin, you’re a Christian! How could you?!”
Yes, I am a flawed, sinner of a Christian who still messes up and still needs the resurrection power of Jesus every second of every day of my life.
So, I messed up time and time again by filling the void with shopping or my husband or friends or binge-watching Sex and the City (sorry everyone I just really love that show, ok?)
But guess what? All those things fill the void then disappear. They are all temporary and still leave you feeling empty after the initial high.
Jesus is not temporary – He is eternal. But that is so hard for our human brains to comprehend, especially when our brains are not in their healthiest state. Mine hasn’t been healthy, so it hasn’t remembered His faithfulness like I know it can.
You see, it’ not only that this year hasn’t felt very worthy of celebrating – I haven’t felt worthy of any kind of celebration either. I have resorted back to how I felt about myself years ago when I was convinced there was not a single thing beautiful about me. I let the devil whisper lies that I believe to be truth even though my heart knows the real Truth.
I have let what I think people think of me, and even what I know they think of me, rule my life instead of going to God in prayer and meditating on His word. I have given the world more weight than I have given Him.
But I won’t sit here and beat myself up. I’ve learned to give myself a little more grace than that.
I started seeing a counselor and I’ve let you all in on that journey. She has been an absolute God-send and has helped me in more ways than I can count. I cannot recommend counseling enough to every single person, struggling or not. We all need to let it out every once in a while and be pointed back to Jesus as soon as we do.
And through my depression, I’ve continue to write and share and encourage. And I’ve been made to feel guilty about that by others and myself – and especially the enemy.
I agree that I probably should have taken a break and not posted some of the encouraging posts or videos, but please know my intention was never to fake it or hide anything – I only wanted to be sure that if anyone else was going through what I was going through, even just one person, they would see a glimpse of light shining through.
And, honestly, some days I really was fine! I had some of the best days of my life this year mixed in with some of the darkest. That might not make much sense to you and it doesn’t to me either. One day would feel like sunshine and the very next would be a torrential downpour. Sometimes both in one day.
I’ve wondered so many times – “How in the world have I kept going?”
How have I not just quit my job, quit going in public, quit going to church, quit writing and just lie in bed? Because I promise that’s all I wanted to do.
Every time I wanted to stop, He reminded me it would all be alright. He gave me nudges to say, “You’re crossing over, I promise. Just trust me. Keep walking through the wilderness.” And He also said, “I will not let you feel this in vain. I am only letting you feel it so I can use you. I will use you to help other people for my glory. So, just don’t quit.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have said, “I just do not want to be alive.”
I never planned on ending my own life; I just hoped God would do it for me. But that’s not ok either. It’s not ok to feel so desperate that you just wish it would end. Life is too beautiful to walk in that every day.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
The enemy has done everything in his power to try to steal my life, but this is a story that won’t end in destruction. My story ends in victory because my God said so.
I am devastated by the dozens of stories I read far too often about people taking their own lives, people with all the fame and wealth, people with no money to their name, and people like the sweet pastor who recently lost his fight with depression. Everyone has their own opinion on that story – the bottom line is it’s heartbreaking and God can and will use it for good because He uses all things for good for those who believe in Him. (Romans 8:28) That doesn’t mean suicide is good – it means God will use a bad situation to save other lives and remind those who feel hopeless of the hope He has to offer.
Can we also not be cruel about those who took their own lives? They couldn’t see the light because the enemy was blinding them. Imagine having a blindfold on while running down a dark street. Wouldn’t you rather just quit than keep trying to navigate with no vision?
If you haven’t ran down the dark street in their shoes then don’t judge their decisions. Again, I am NOT condoning suicide. I do not ever think it is OK, but I do know we serve a God full of grace, and the eternity of every human is up to Him, not you and not me. (Please do not send me any messages arguing about suicide. Please.)
I am really passionate about sharing my story and all the other stories of depression that have not taken a turn down the dark road of suicide.
That’s why I made such a big deal out of my birthday this year. That’s why I celebrated for an entire week – not because I am so self-centered, but because I am determined to take back what the enemy tried his best to steal. I will celebrate a year that does not feel worthy of a single birthday candle. I will celebrate because every day of this past year was a day The Lord made – and THAT is why I rejoice. I don’t rejoice on my behalf. I don’t rejoice because of any of my circumstances. I rejoice because God is good and that’s the only reason I will ever need.
In my mind, no one can be mean on my birthday or hate me or make me feel bad. My insecurities go out the window on my birthday. The excited, fun, energetic girl who often gets trapped inside and made small as to not offend anyone breaks free on my birthday. The enemy cannot get me on my day.
I am aware of the logic, or lack thereof, behind my theory – but it’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
This year, I wanted one day to be OK – and even more than OK! I was determined to keep depression from touching me on birthday. He tried hard, but I felt Jesus fighting harder than ever before for me. He wanted me to celebrate. He wanted me to remember that my life is worth living all because He lives. He wanted me to remember that I am worth celebrating because I am His. He wanted to remind me that depression is NEVER invited to the party.
And I am taking that with me into this 26th year of life. I am holding on tight to the celebration in my heart and throwing it around like confetti everywhere I go. I am done tiptoeing around making sure no one thinks I talk too much or share too much or post on social media too much. I am screaming from the rooftops what God has done for me to remind every soul what He can do for them. What people think of me and what the enemy could do to me are no longer at the forefront of my mind.
Depression, you can go. Anxiety, see you never. Insecurity, adios.
God will restore every single thing the locusts devoured. (Joel 2:25)
Can you do me a favor? If you feel hopeless or depressed or sad at all, will you please first, PRAY. Then, reach out. Reach out to me or a family member or a counselor.
Counseling is nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of. Read about my counseling journey HERE.
Seriously, message me, call me, text me. I will drop what I am doing and talk with you about our sweet Jesus and the comfort He has waiting for you.
I refuse to let something so dark and ugly steal any joy from me anymore. And I am praying harder than ever for every single person experiencing any type of mental illness that makes them feel alone. There are so many solutions to this horrible issue, but death is not one.
I know there are plenty of people who think I share too much, but I haven’t shared as much as you think. And what I have shared is to help people and remind people of the God who is so good. (Romans 12:11 always and forever)
I haven’t shared the dozens of nights I cried myself to sleep. I haven’t shared the mornings I’ve woken up with physical sleep paralysis because of stress and anxiety. I haven’t shared the moments my husband has seen me go through.
I never shared the story of me lying down to finally go to sleep, eyes raw from crying, chest tight from anxiety, and smiling for the first time all day because I thought it was so beautiful how the moonlight peaked through my blinds and shone its light on the floor. I can’t explain why it gave me so much joy, but it did, and it reminded me that joy is in the cracks and crevices, not always in the big and bold moments of life.
I don’t tell you that so you will feel sorry for me. I tell you that to remind you people can be depressed AND be happy. Happy moments can creep into the darkness.
Like I said earlier, God works everything together for good and He can use depression to shed some light in the world. The one positive from my depression is that I’ve learned a few things:
- I have a very strong and able God.
- I have an incredibly supportive husband who loves me unconditionally.
- It doesn’t matter if you have 100 friends as long as you have a small tribe of people who always check on you and always encourage you.
- Counseling is for the strongest people.
- Joy is found in the smallest places. Hold on to every ounce of moonlight.
I know that God is kind because of all He is done for me to get me out of this depression. He gave me the most loving man to hold my hand through it all. And He left me feel every ounce of it so I can walk through someone else with it and bring glory to Him through it all.
Depression is ugly – God is beautiful. Simple and true and powerful.
Hey, let’s take back the narrative starting right now. Let’s celebrate anything and everything and sing so loud that the darkness has to flee, in the name of Jesus.
We are worth celebrating, friends. Let’s party hard this year.
You are beautiful,