Finding a Light in the Darkness: My Battle with Depression and Anxiety
You’re worthless. You’re a burden to everyone. No one is ever going to love you.
I’m sure some of you have been a victim to these lies. Throughout much of 2016, these were the thoughts that attacked my mind regularly. I’ve battled with anxiety and depression for years; however, during the first half of this year, the battle was vicious, and I often was left bleeding and broken, desperate to escape these illnesses that haunted me.
Some days, life simply felt dull, gray, and joyless. Other days, I felt immense pain and grief so strongly that it felt as if someone had died. But really it was just a part of myself that felt as if it had perished: the part of myself that could feel happiness and joy. I no longer saw the worth in myself or in living. With the waves of intense panic attacks and deep depression, simply being alive felt like a daunting task. Everyday felt like I was walking around with a weight on my chest, endlessly trying to catch my breath. Being alive hurt.
I know some of you, if not many, can understand what I am describing. But many people I opened up to couldn’t seem to grasp what I was experiencing. When someone explains that they are having negative thoughts, people always preach to look at the bright side and think positively. But there was no bright side in my head. No ounce of light could penetrate the darkness that clouded my mind. My depression and anxiety affected me so greatly that I could not differentiate between the lies that they fed me and my reality. Sometimes it was obvious that these lies were not the truth. But other times they came shadowed in thoughts that seemed perfectly normal. The lies merged and weaved themselves throughout the inner workings of my brain so seamlessly that these twisted and dark thoughts appeared to be perfectly sane. I was no longer apart of reality. I was completely drowning in my darkness, and it felt like no one would ever save me. I decided that, at some point, I was going to end my life. If I could describe myself in one word, it would be hopeless.
Eventually, I realized that I could not live this way any longer. Truly by the grace of God, I asked for help. Eventually, I was able to pull my way out of the darkness I was so entrenched in.
Since seeking help, I can already see the grace of God in my life. I’ve met so many beautiful people and had many beautiful experiences that I would have missed out on if I had taken my life in my own hands.
With depression and anxiety, and any other mental illness, almost every day is a struggle. Sometimes getting out of bed feels like running a marathon. Sometimes just sitting in class brings unbearable pain with the anxiety it causes me. Every day is a challenge, and I’m not saying that going to adoration or mass everyday will fix a mental illness. But the closer I’ve grown to God, the more I can see His hand in my life, the more I can trust that He has a plan for me, and the more I know that my suffering will not be fruitless. I still have days that I feel extremely depressed, anxious, worthless, inadequate, and that I just honestly would rather not be alive.
But I grasp onto God. I have to trust that I am here for a reason. Trusting in God is extremely difficult sometimes. To me, trusting God can feel like jumping off a cliff into a deep, dark abyss, and just praying He will catch me as I fall. A leap of faith you might call it. But that’s what God is calling us to do. To let go. To leave everything in His hands.
Maybe you aren’t dealing with depression or anxiety, but everyone is dealing with something. Everyone has wounds that are still aching, burdens that feel too heavy to bear. And sometimes the weight is so unbearable, we feel like it is too difficult to go on. That we should give up. That we are too weak, inadequate, or worthless. And, in extreme cases, that we simply cannot continue being alive.
No matter what you are struggling with, trust that God will reach through the thick of the darkness and hold you in his arms. Trust that when you let go, he will take control. He will never leave you. God never lets anything happen that would interrupt his divine plan for you. And no matter how hard it is to believe, he has a plan. When the weight of the world is on your shoulders, know that you don’t have to carry it on your own.
Have hope. He has a plan for me. He has a plan for you. Trust.
“I plead with you—never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.” – St. John Paul II
If you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression, please do not feel like you are alone. There are many resources out there to help, some right here on Franciscan’s campus.
There are two groups here on campus sponsored by the Counseling Center that are designed to help students learn skills to manage depression or anxiety.
Lifting the Spirit
7 week group
Tuesdays @ 6-7 pm
February 7- March 28
Interested in this opportunity?
Please contact Dan Pinciaro
Quenching the Anxious Spirit
7 week group
Thursdays @5:30-6:30 pm
February 9-March 30
Please Contact Dan Pinciaro
I love you, and I'm praying for you. Remember--you are never alone
Jacque Anderson is a Junior at Franciscan University majoring in English with a Writing Concentration. She has a passion for serving others, especially women, through writing and relational ministry. Some of her other passions include health and fitness, taking photos, and reading. Her biggest role models are JPII, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, and Father Mike Schmitz. You can learn more about Jacque here.