Monday, July 25, 2016

I have something to tell you.

Hey. I did that thing again where I didn't write a blog post for over a year. Whoops. It's not you guys, my journal gets the same amount of love as this blog does.

Truth is, I didn't have anything to blog about last year and this year has been shit-tay. 2016 was supposed to be awesome and Taylor Swift made turning 22 sound like the greatest age I'll ever be. Neither of those two things turned out to be true so far.

For the first half of the year, I chalked up my depressive state as period hormones (I'm not one of those who pretends it's not her period that gives her mood swings. It's totally my period, most of the time). But it wasn't until a few months had passed when I looked at myself and thought "Um, my period isn't a constant thing, so why am I feeling this way?" But, because of my half-full attitude, I decided to pretend like these feelings weren't real.

I went on living as happy-go-lucky Emily when I was out and about, but when I was by myself, this cloud came around. This cloud only ever showed up when I was alone. The cloud was really dark and it would sometimes rain (not in a good way, because I love real rain). It was the worst when it rained. It ate at me. It whispered confidence destroying thoughts. It made me doubt my faith in God. It made me feel like my life had zero meaning. But the majority of the time, I'd try to talk myself out of the cloud until something or someone distracted me and it would disappear.

Then it happened. I had a panic attack.

I had never, ever had a panic attack before. I've had so many friends in high school and college who had them relatively frequently and struggled with depression, so I knew how to talk people down from them and help them cool off. But that wasn't working on myself. I was weeping and shaking and I was by myself in my room. I went into the kitchen and grabbed a knife for the first time. Before I did anything, I looked up and told God that if I wasn't supposed to do this, then to wake up one of my roommates. I held the knife above my wrist and I heard the door open and one of my roommates walked in the bathroom to pee. I dropped the knife on the ground and fell and sobbed harder. I felt God whispering to me, "You're still mine." I cried, listened to some worship music, then eventually fell asleep.

I was good for about a week. I was feeling myself again and doing okay. Then I had another one out of the blue on the subway. The subway was PACKED with rush hour traffic and I was shaking, sobbing, snot-nosed, and out-loud weeping and not a single person acknowledged me. Then I remembered we had church group at my house that night and I freaked out about the idea of being around people that loved me because I didn't want people to know I was going through this. I texted my roommate that I was going to stay in my room for group because I just couldn't be around them. I ran to my room and started googling how many aspirin it would take to kill someone of my height and weight. I was about to go get the meds from my kitchen when I remembered my living room was full of women. Something came over me and I called my parents.

My mom answered the phone "Hello?" and I couldn't find words. I just paused, she heard me cry and asked me what was wrong. "Mom, I'm not okay." She told me she could tell I hadn't been myself, despite my illusion that I was normal. I wept and I told her about my panic attack and she talked to me for a little bit. She asked me if I wanted to talk to my dad and I said yes. He got on the phone and I told him about the state of me and the cloud that was always around. He encouraged me to go in my living room and be with my friends, despite me being terrified of them seeing me like this. He then put me on speakerphone and told my mom and my brother that they were going to pray for me. He prayed for 10 minutes and he sobbed. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen my dad cry, and this might have been a close second to the hardest I've ever seen him cry. I remember him saying "Lord. We don't want to lose her." and I cried too because I hadn't even told him about the knife or the aspirin. After my family prayed for me, and I promised to start looking for help resources at church, I hung up and sat with my friends in my living room.

Nothing as extreme as those two instances have happened since then, but the cloud is definitely still real. I reached out to the mental health team at church and told them what was happening. They gave me Christian counseling and therapy recommendations in the city. I called my parents and told them that I met with someone about getting help, but I still put off actually calling the recommendations I was given. I still wasn't fully convinced something was wrong with me.

Then one day, the cloud was around and followed me to the subway. It whispered to me "If you jump in front of the train, it could look like an accident and no one would know" so instead of running the errand I was supposed to run, I went straight to the counseling office and filled out an application.

While waiting for my application to process, I visited SC to see friends and family like I do every summer. While home, my parent's church was doing a night of worship. I love nights of worship and my church in NYC doesn't do them very often. After it was over (I cried, a lot. The whole dang time) my friend's mom came over to me and asked to pray for me and to talk with me. She didn't know what had been going on with me, but she told me God just gave her a picture of me, wearing a Red Riding Hood cloak ("in very Emily Krull fashion" she put) but the cloak was black instead of red. It was black because I was hiding and running away from God. And that I needed to stop running so I could wear a red cloak again and BE Emily again. She prayed for me, a lot more tears came.

I've now been going to counseling for a few weeks. It was so weightlifting to tell my counselor about these suicidal thoughts without having them burst into tears and tell me how my life had worth. Instead she told me that we were going to work on finding the root of this cloud. She explained to me about the "positions" we take with God. How we're supposed to be on our knees in surrender vs standing on our own trying to fix ourselves (which DING DING DING, what I have been doing). She told me that she wanted us to work on me to find my way to a sitting position, instead of standing and working my way to my knees in surrender again.

I took a step back from both my leadership positions at church as choir director and youth group leader. I need rest, desperately. I need time to remember how to sit so I can eventually surrender to Jesus again. I'm not in a place to encourage others. I told my leader, our youth pastor, that I needed to take a break and he said "It's our job as Christians to help build the church. But you're part of the church, too. And if you're not being built up, then you absolutely should take the break you need."

So this is what's happening. I'm going to counseling. I'm finding who I am in my faith again. I'm learning to breathe again (cue Switchfoot song).

It's taken me a month to write this. Well, I wrote it, edited it a few times, saved it as a draft, re-read it, thought it was dumb, then didn't look at it again for a week. I'm really scared about opening up this much to my friends and family all at one time with posting this. But I decided it was time to share it because last night a friend told me about what they'd been going through and it sounded an awful lot like what you just read. I guess I just wanted to encourage people who also have a cloud that no one knows about to tell someone they're not okay. Because I was the queen of creating the illusion of bubbly-best-mood-ever girl. My social media was loading with nothing but wit and silliness as much as possible (I PRIDE myself in have the goofiest snapchat stories). Only a handful of people knew that I wasn't my full self and even less people knew just how bad it was.

So if you're still reading this, please don't be upset that I didn't tell you what I've been going through. Please don't blast me with "I'm so sorry!", "I had no idea!", "Why didn't you tell me?", and other comments of that sort. Because that's not why I'm sharing this. I'm not telling the world this story to get sympathy or to ask people to feel bad for me. I'm telling you this because I want you to stop pretending like you're okay if you're not.

The almond branch is the first to blossom in the spring and the last to bear fruit in the fall.

Jeremiah 1:11, Mark 5:34, Psalm 23, 2 Cor. 4:6