[Guest Post by Celine Diaz – I always appreciate it when when people are brave enough to come forward and share their story. Here’s Celine’s story. Be encouraged.]
I could hardly recognize myself.
I had gone from a spirited 19 year old, passionate and ambitious, on fire with life and always progressing, to a paralyzed, immobile wraith, numb to joy, and suddenly so fearful and exhausted that I lapsed into inactivity. I hid from my loved ones, locking myself up in shame, afraid of dragging others down with my low mood. I was like a flower that had been cut from its roots: devoid of vibrancy and life, now wilted, dull, and dead.
At 19, as with any age, things were fast-paced.
But I couldn’t keep up.
I was incredibly aware of everything I was supposed to be, yet painfully aware of everything I was not. At this age, I figured, I was supposed to be finding myself, trying new things, meeting new people, finding new jobs. But I couldn’t help but notice that my life was the opposite. If anything, I’d lost myself even more.
No longer could I find enjoyment in the things that once made me passionate.
No longer could I feel beautiful in the presence of others, not even the ones I loved.
I was ashamed.
For some reason I couldn’t feel the joy that everyone else could; I was numb.
The worst part was that I couldn’t figure out how this all happened. Nothing traumatic had occurred to thrust me into depression. So I blamed it on myself–on my own weaknesses, on my own lack of character, on my own flaws.
Eventually I visited the doctor and was diagnosed with clinical depression. Oddly enough, getting the diagnosis was the first time I saw a glimmer of hope.
I began viewing it as something I was going through, not who I innately was. It was something I could heal from. So I worked on different areas of my life, changing my negative thought patterns and getting more exercise, but it was my reliance on God that contributed most to my recovery. It turned out that a change of circumstance wasn’t what I needed, but a change of attitude.
I won’t lie: it was hard.
I didn’t understand why this was happening to me, and God didn’t give me any answers.
But that was the point.
I didn’t need answers.
I needed faith.
That changed everything for me. I surrendered, allowing God’s will to be done in my life regardless of my confusion, and it was only through surrender that I realized that joy and suffering could co-exist. Although I felt lifeless, a deeper conviction remained; it was through my nothingness that God’s greatness would be exposed. I was falling, yes, but only through falling could God teach me how to fly.
At the time, I felt paralyzed, unable to progress, but I was wrong. Never had I grown so much.
I learned more about myself, that I was capable of enduring and of trusting God blindly; I learned more about others, that there were people who’d never give up on me, even when I gave up on myself; and I learned more about God, that he was all powerful, always faithful, and the only true life there was. I felt as if I had lost my life, but it was in God that I found it again.
“Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25).
It turned out that by taking away my securities, God turned me into a clean slate to paint his masterpieces on. What first seemed like a curse had become a blessing.
So if you are currently facing a mental illness, know that God isn’t finished with you yet. “When it seems like God is doing nothing, that is probably when he is doing the most.”
Take courage and be strong.
Celine Diaz is pursuing a BA in Communications at her university. Her mission is to reignite a culture of self-acceptance in a world that is far too obsessed with perfection, advocating authenticity above all else. For empowering, honest, and inspiring stuff, check out her blog at www.RealTalkBlogs.com or follow her on Twitter @RealTalkBlogs.
[Photo: hoaz, Creative Commons]