Hope Whispers into the Darkness of Self- Harm and Depression

“Instead of owning the fact that all of these struggles and all of the pain has already been defeated, we identify as depressed, lost, abandoned.”

Hope.

It’s what sees us through the dark.

It’s what we cling to in order to remind ourselves that better days are ahead.

In it’s simplest form it’s the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen.

But what happens when we can no longer feel it?

What about when the worst things happen?

When your entire world collapses.

What then?

For me, my entire world collapsed twice.

The first time it happened, I was 13. I said goodbye to my dad and with that all the possibilities of what could be. I convinced myself that I was okay, and I think I actually began to believe it. Everyone else did. But if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that ignoring grief doesn’t make it go away.

By the time I was 17, I was in a world so over my head that I didn’t know how to get out of it. This world of depression that I didn’t know much about and didn’t care to know much about was now a very real part of my life. I thought that maybe if I just ignored it like I had been my grief, that it would go away too. But it didn’t. Soon that depression led me right to self harm. But it didn’t stop there. A few months later, self harm didn’t even help me the way that it had when I first started.

I didn’t know which way was up and I didn’t see any way out of how I was feeling. Soon what had started as some unpleasant thoughts a few months before, had turned into self hate and hopelessness and what began as the occasional suicidal ideation, became an active plan to end my life.

I’m so thankful for the love and grace of Jesus that saw me through that moment. And I wish that I could say that that was the only time in my life that I struggled in that way. But the thing with self harm and depression, is that just because you find yourself in a good place with it, doesn’t mean that you’ll stay there unless you work at it. And I didn’t work at it. I didn’t think that I needed to. But I soon learned that those same thoughts were still there and before I knew it, I found myself in the middle of my first major relapse.

With that came the same unpleasant thoughts that had plagued me while in high school, and I thought that I was destined to feel that way forever. But then everything changed with an invite to church. I didn’t want to go that night, but figured it couldn’t hurt. I could go and check it out and that be that. I had a church home already and was happy with it. I’d been there practically my whole life and saw no reason to leave. Until I walked through those doors. People who were strangers that first night quickly became my church family. They helped see me through those rough patches and into a life of intentional recovery.

I thank God every day for bringing me through those doors that night because without those people, I would have never made it through my world collapsing for the second time.

Last year, everything changed in my life in a way that I thought I would never get through.

As I already mentioned, I lost my dad when I was 13, and at the age of 25, I lost my mom. All of a sudden my life as I knew it was changed forever.

What was a life of intentional recovery became a life falling apart, and once again, I managed to convince everyone, including myself, that I was okay. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. When those thoughts started coming back, I didn’t try and stop them. I didn’t talk to anyone. I kept them to myself because once again, I thought that I could control them. Unfortunately, before I knew it, they were controlling me. And eventually I found myself once again actively planning to end my life.

Thankfully, as stubborn as I am, the people in my life are just as stubborn, if not more. They pulled me through and stayed with me until they were sure I was safe. They gave me tough love when I needed it and told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted. To this day, I still cherish every one of those beautiful people that fought through hell to see me through to the other side.

I still had a choice to make.  I still had to fight for my story and for it be a beautiful and long one. I still had to fight for hope.

But what about you? What about when your world collapses?

What about when the noise of life gets so loud that we can no longer hear hope calling out to us?

What do we do then?

What is our foundation built on?

Is it in the idea of hope?

In the idea that things will one day get better.

Is it in the struggle we find ourselves in?
The crippling depression.
The family that’s falling apart.
The God that seems so far away.

We allow these things to become the supreme truth in our lives.
That’s what defines us.
That’s what we build our lives on.

The answer to who we are becomes more about what we’re going through at the time instead of the child of the risen King that we are.  Instead of owning the fact that all of these struggles and all of the pain has already been defeated, we identify as depressed, lost, abandoned.

 

We allow our lives to become so cluttered with so much noise, that we lose sight of the calling placed on our lives.
It’s easy to let the noise take over.
Trust me.
I’ve spent a long time doing just that, but let me tell you, it’s miserable.

We were, we are called to be so much more.

It’s so easy to just isolate ourselves and tell ourselves that we aren’t worth it, but those are nothing but lies.
People need other people.
You are worth it.

You are worth it.
Repeat that to yourself as many times as you need to hear it.
Repeat it until you believe it.
Have people in your life repeat it until you believe it.
Do whatever it takes until you believe it.
Write it on a post it note and put it on your mirror.

Understand that hard times are going to come.
Your world will fall apart before your very eyes at some point.
The worst thing will happen.

But where will your foundation lie?
In the lies that you have believe all these years?
Or in the hope that Jesus has already overcome the world?

Life can get messy.

Really, really messy.

And it’s so incredibly easy to want to just succumb to the noise and to the chaos.

But we were called for something better.

 

We don’t have to walk through life alone.

We weren’t created for that.

We were created for community.

 

You don’t have to do this alone.

You have people that will fight with you, and fight for you on the days that you can’t fight.

You deserve that.

 

Life is a perfectly imperfect story that is written one day at a time.

I’m so thankful to have so many people that have willingly decided to write in mine, especially on the days where I couldn’t write anything.

 

Every story has a plot.  But not every story has a plot twist.

Will you let yours have a plot twist, where suddenly the light begins to break through the darkness?

Where the loudness and the chaos is suddenly silenced.

Where you no longer let the chaos and confusion consume you.

I pray that you find hope again.

That you realize it never left you.

It’s always been there.

Even in the midst of all the chaos, it’s been there.

It’s here right now.

 

 Hope is that small whisper reminding you to not give up.

Your whisper may be in a different form than mine, but it’s still there.

It may become hard to hear sometimes.

It may get lost in the shuffle.

You may wonder why it doesn’t just scream louder over the chaos.

But hope wasn’t meant to scream to be heard.

Sometimes it can be hard to hear it, but if you listen carefully, you’ll find it.

Hope is always there.

Always whispering.

Brandi Schneider
Brandi serves as the Connections Team Leader for M1A Students and resides in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She is an author, storyteller, and advocate for how mental illness is addressed in the church. She is passionate about seeing a generation rise up and claim their freedom that is found in Jesus. She seeks to start honest conversations about recovery and the struggles behind it. She believes that there is healing found in sharing our struggles with those around us and that we were never meant to do life alone. She loves all things Christmas, coffee, and cats and hopes that you will join her as we all navigate through the struggles of life together because we are better together. You can keep up with her on her personal blog at ohhaiiitsbrandii.wordpress.com.

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