Life may not be kind, but God is.
Almost two months ago, I began taking medication for depression and the looming suicidal thoughts that had hung over me for months and months before that. I was having panic attacks, but only once or twice a month for the past year. After starting the medication, I had one “good” week of no changes (high or low) before I faced a major panic attack and such uncontrollable anxiety for the rest of the day that I felt demon possessed. What followed was a series of changing my medication dose again and again and even questioning my ability to go on a scheduled mission trip with our youth group. I still went on the trip.
In the past three weeks, I’ve had 17 panic attacks, with yesterday being the worst (five to seven attacks, depending on how you define them). One doctor put me on a different medication, and that was worse than the first, so I switched back and still only saw increasing panic attacks. I got off that. Then another doctor put me on a medication to help me sleep (oh yeah, that’s been interrupted every night also), and that heightened the attacks also. So, I got off that. I’ve seen two other doctors in addition to the first two. I’ve had bloodwork done to test my thyroid, glucose, iron, vitamin D, hemoglobin, blood platelets, etc., etc. My request for a hormonal panel was refused by a gynecologist, even though I fought for it, so I bought my own test online. I’ve met with two therapists, one of whom told me my situation was “a conundrum.”
Sometimes I know what triggers my attacks. Some triggers are physical, like caffeine or artificial sweeteners, or watching the Olympics or being on my phone. Some triggers, liking driving into our church or sitting in a service, are more psychological, linked to past trauma. Even though our church here in Michigan is safe and has loved me for who I am and loved the spiritual gifts and ministry philosophy that God has put into my life, my church story has not always been the same. Our leaving Wisconsin last year was traumatic. Church in the years that led up to our leaving held trauma for me.
The answer to too many questions is “I don’t know.” I don’t know what’s mental and what’s physical. I don’t know what is going on in my body. I don’t know why. I don’t know why this is my story or how it will get better.
I’ve faced despair—that shift from a discouraging moment to believing this discouraging life will never be different. I’ve faced the inconsolable grief of being moved out of a church I loved, away from people I love, without reconciliation. Sometimes I feel I’m sleeping too much, and sometimes I can’t get enough sleep. I’ve wracked the internet for vitamin deficiencies and natural things I can purchase. I’ve changed my diet to almost solely meat and produce (no sugar, no cheats, no gluten, no artificial dyes or sweeteners, no sugar alcohols, no caffeine, limited dairy—anything I feel sick after eating). I’ve changed to homemade cleaning supplies and household products so I can control the ingredients.
And still. I panic. And still I wait.
For answers. For healing. For rest. For peace.
And God has not been silent. He hasn’t given me the “why,” but He has not been silent. He has shown me that He is bigger than one hurting moment I face. This small life is only a flame, but to snuff that flame myself denies this purpose: that I am His and my life is not my own. And that alone has stayed my hands when the suicidal thoughts wreaked havoc.
He has shown me who I am before Him, and that I am accepted because of the blood of Christ and because I am His child. When I feel so broken and ugly and unlovable, He reminds me that He didn't choose to love me in the beginning based on my merit, and He doesn't choose to love me less now because of my frailty. He loves me forever and always because that is Who He is.
God has shown His faithfulness through the church—not just our local church and their meals and prayers and childcare they’ve offered, but the body of believers around the world who have come alongside to text and message and share their similar stories and offer hope to me that someday, something could be different.
And if not, I will still trust. He is teaching me to wait. The waiting is tedious because it means I cannot fix myself, though I’ve tried.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 (listened to over and again in the Dwell app my friend Loren gave me).
“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and shield,” Psalm 33:20.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope,” Psalm 130:5 (texted to me by my friend Anna, even while she’s working at camp this summer).
And so, I wait, for God to show me the next piece of His story for my life, to show me Who He is again, perhaps to give me another cause to crave the eternity that has forever been in my heart (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Life has not been kind. But God has been.