I wasn’t sure when to share this part of my story. It’s one of the hardest parts of my life, but it needs to be shared. I’ve held onto it for a long time waiting for the “perfect” timing. But, as I was sitting, sipping my coffee, and reflecting this morning I realized that there really is no “perfect” timing. Because a story of redemption, life, and hope is always worthy to share anytime and will affect at least one person who reads it. Many of you who read this already know my brief history with anxiety and depression, so this story may not affect you- and that’s okay – then this story of hope is not for you today. But, for those who need to know the redemptive power of love, need to see a story of hope & healing, will see the power in my story and will begin their healing process as they share their story. As you read this, please remember- this is not about me or my “sad” history. It is about the glorious hope and redemption we have access to as human beings.
Not long ago, when I’d gaze into the mirror, I’d see a ghost staring back at me: sallow skin, dark circles under her eyes, hair untamed.
But it wasn’t my outward appearance that bothered me. Not really. What troubled me most was that I saw in the depth of my own eyes: exhaustion, fear, helplessness, loneliness, and darkness. I’d cry out in anguish, horrified at the change in the person before me. How did I become this ghost of what I once was? How long had it been creeping up on me? Will I ever find that happy woman again? Will I ever see her in the mirror, smiling back at me? Will this despair ever fade? I didn’t have the answer.
So, I tried my hardest to cover up the ghost of myself. I continued trudging on, morning after morning, pretending everything was fine
I found that I could hide the torment from the outside world if I just applied more concealer, pencil, and mascara. I’d finish it with a smile and everyone would see that I was beautiful, perfect, and happy. “No inner turmoil here,” my face said. With the perfect lighting and straightened hair, everything will be better, right?
Sure. If you focused on my outward appearance, I seemed to have it all together.
But, if you saw me—the real, true ME—you would have seen a woman slowly dying inside. You’d see the anger that flashed, punches thrown into a wall, as I grappled with feelings of “why do I feel like this? Why can’t I just be strong and get over this?” You’d see the daily sobbing sessions, hiding in bedroom closets from my kids. You’d see kids who weren’t fooled: they could feel the throbbing tension in the house. You’d see the constant exhaustion and long hours lying on the couch, physically and emotionally unable to move. And, by afternoon, when I just couldn’t handle the sadness anymore, you’d see me fall on my knees in the middle of my living room, bowing before the wall, laying there for an interminable amount of time, losing the battle of trying to climb out of the miry pit that was in my head.
And if I’m brutally honest – if I share with you the parts of my desperation I’ve only ever shared with my husband and my God you would see me at my absolute rock bottom. You’d watch as I drove home from an appointment, pull into the garage, close the garage door, but not turn the car off, wishing for a few split seconds for an end to the pain. In those desperate moments, death seemed easier.
Are you crying yet? I certainly am. Sobbing, in fact, as I write this. Dragging out my demons for others to see is one the hardest things I will do in my life. Admitting my darkest moments to my family and my closest friends. Exposing the ghost to the outside.
Since I am writing this to you today you know that I did not go through with what I so desired to do during that darkest part of my life. I am still standing, still breathing, still fighting... How? Because I have a God who isn’t finished with me yet. I hate that experience, but I’m learning to love myself in spite of it. I’m learning to embrace the darkest parts of my story. Why? Because if I didn’t go through the inner turmoil, the depression, the panic attacks, the desire for it all to end, I wouldn’t know the endless, passionate redeeming love of God. I wouldn’t know how much HE was holding me through all of it.
If I hadn’t gone through the fire, I wouldn’t be here today to tell you that your life is WORTH EVERYTHING. I wouldn’t be here to advocate for your worth, your dignity, and your meaning here on earth. God isn’t finished with me yet – and He’s not finished with you, either.
I am able to share my story with you because I was able to get the resources, care, love, and compassion that I needed... I know there are some of you who will criticize, disbelieve, or mock my story and my God. And, you know what? I’m okay with that. Because I know that if even one life is saved because of my story, all of this will have been worth it. YOU, my precious friend, YOU who are weary, troubled, sad, lonely, and struggling to find worth or meaning - YOU are who I advocate for. You are worth everything to me because you are God’s gorgeous creation. I will share my story because yours isn’t meant to end yet.
I started Cygnet Stitchery because it was a way for me to share my story and spread awareness about mental health illnesses. Mental illness can come from a variety of sources: family history, imbalance of hormones and/or serotonin, self-depreciation, lack of self-worth, hopelessness, loss of a family member or friend, trauma of all kinds, various forms of abuse, and so much more. So often, the heaviness of life makes it seem hopeless. But, there is hope. There is rest and peace. And there is a promising life during the struggle and after the heartache. There will be time for healing, but you need to know where to find it. That’s where I find my renewed purpose.
You are worthy. You are beautiful. And you are worth every breath you breathe. Take this time to focus on your health, on your worth, on your passions. I’ve included some phone numbers on my RESOURCE page. They are toll-free and the volunteers on the other side of the line are waiting to hear your voice. They want to show you that you are strong enough to make it through this trial. They have resources to help you find your healing. Because your time is not up yet. There was peace and healing for me, and there will be peace and healing for you too, if only you hold on long enough. So hold on, dear one. Hold on.
with so much love,
**Thank You to Becca Stewart, writer, editor, and dear friend who helped me write this bringing my story to life.**