In the Deep End
I listened to a song last night that brought me back to the first time my friends carried me through a difficult part of my life. My first “crash” occurred during my freshman year from college. At the time, I had no idea what was going on but my desperation became a desperate act. That fall I walked on to a college campus not knowing anyone and feeling totally alone. A breakup from a high school girlfriend left me even more alone and isolated.
Where most freshman were exploring their new found freedom with very little rules I would sit in my dorm room and cry most nights. It got to the point that I was sleeping most of the day and the only interaction I had with my roommate involved getting high fives because I was skipping classes. Then one Saturday night in early December, I decided the pain was too much and I just wanted to stop hurting. I took a bottle full of pills and quietly laid in bed waiting for the pills to take effect.
A moment of clarity
Fortunately, I had a moment of clarity, pulled myself out of bed, went to a Residential Advisors room and was taken to a hospital. I came home that Christmas broken, searching for peace and spent much of my time with two friends that loved on me where I was at and showed me grace and kindness when I felt I didn’t deserve any.
I had no idea what anxiety and depression was at the time (I thought I was going crazy) but I’ve learned I was displaying the classic symptoms of both. It has been something that I’ve battled through the last three decades. I’ve had different crashes since but the same theme has run throughout. The thoughts of “I’m not good enough, I’m not lovable, I’m not wanted, I don’t matter, I’m not ___________” has hung like a rain cloud over my head and I empathise with those that struggle with the same thoughts.
The worst part has always been, I’m really good at faking it. I’ve learned to act like everything is good when internally I am screaming inside and I don’t think I can make it through the day. People tell me I have a great smile. It has a way of warming people but it is also the best mask I have. I’ve learned to smile even when none of me is happy. I’ve learned to smile when I struggle with my very existence.
There were days that my heart would be pounding so hard and I would be trying to get a breath that I had to stop walking for fear I would drop dead the next step. I would stand still, breath, and recollect my thoughts so I could go teach, go coach, go be who people thought I was. However, at the end of those days, I would find myself slumped in my bed not able to move, not able to talk, not able to connect with my wife and family. They’ve seen it first hand and it’s been hard for them to watch the internal struggle that I’ve had.
I am thankful for my friends that have walked life with me, the ones that have held my arms up when I’m too weak to do it myself, the ones who have carried me, the ones who have spoken truth to me when I’m listening to the lies. Thank you.
Being known and loved
My anxiety and depression do not define who I am but it does affect parts of my life. There are days I’m doing great and times that it is a battle to finish the day. I hold on to the truth that I AM good enough, I AM lovable, I AM wanted, I do matter and that God has great plans for me, for my marriage, for my family. I have developed a habit of speaking those things over myself even in my darkest times. Our words carry power and the enemy hates it when we speak. It destroys his plans. The only thing he can do is try to convince us to listen to the lies.
The cry of our hearts is to be loved! The lie the enemy tells us is that we can not be loved the way we are. And because of that, we try to change who were are and strive to become lovable. I know our weaknesses are a chance for Him to shine through us and to bring breakthrough in what we define as “impossibilities”
God does not bring storms in our life but promises to be with us through the storms. I’ve experienced a lot of storms and I know He is with me (even the times I don’t feel it). It does get better, it does get better.
I write this for my friends that have struggled with the same things I have. I write this for my friends that have spoken truth about where they are in life but have confidence in the way our Father sees them. I write this for my friends that have walked with me through my hills and valleys and I write this for those that need hope in the storms. He is there with you and so are we.
University Swimming Coach