I am starting to write my Testimony out to share with groups, so here is my first unedited attempt to get my ideas out.
Good morning, I am so nervous, not only do I not like to be up here speaking, but I am being so vulnerable today, and that’s scary. Today will probably change how you understand me and that could be awesome, or it’s going to be awkward. So here’s the statement ‘I have suffered from, I do suffer with and will probably always will suffer from depression, terrible thoughts about myself’. We all probably do at some point and maybe yours are worse than mine and I’m sorry if that’s the case. I hope my story helps.
I can’t tell you the day it all began, but there were indicators of future depression as early as 7th grade. It was in the form of anxiety. I would get them at school and go to the nurses office and ask to go home, but I was always told to tough it out. Usually the anxiety would not have a source, I wasn’t bullied, or anything like that. 7th & 8th grade were about the same and I started dealing with it by suppressing the feelings. This was around 1994.
I don’t remember much about high school as far as having a lot of anxiety, I do remember it being there, but I must have been coping well enough. I do remember having several occasions of pain near my heart and doctors could never say what it was except possibly I pulled muscle by my heart. I now believe it was anxiety.
The next big anxiety attack I had was going to college. I remember being dropped off by my parents and everything unloaded. I was in a basement apartment so it was really dark. For the first couple of days before school started, I laid in my room terrified of life. The anxiety has turned to depression and fear. I wanted to be like the other’s at college having fun and living life, but I felt crippled almost daily. I just wanted to do my classes and hurry up and get back to my apartment.
After college, I moved back home. I got the job I always thought I wanted to have and lasted 6 months and got fired because I wasn’t fast enough at it. That devastated me. Just adding to the list of failures I would start keeping a tally of.
My wife and I got married in 2003. She was the most beautiful bride and I thought I loved her. I was naive. I wanted to love her, but more importantly, I wanted to be loved.
We came back from our honeymoon to find a mountain of credit card debt. Debt I never really shared with my wife before marriage. Right off the line, I was failing at marriage. I know this is an exaggeration, but it seemed like every week I was failing at life and failing our marriage. I wanted to please my wife so much, but had dug a hole that just keep getting deeper and deeper. I would go on to hide bills from her. I lied about failing classes that I decided to take to turn my Associate’s degree into a Bachelor’s degree. I thought I was protecting her.
For the first 10 years of our marriage, my failures just kept tallying up. Not that my wife had crazy expectations, she didn’t.
It became easier and easier to beat myself up with thoughts. My wife couldn’t even hardly talk to me because I would shut down and become so consumed with the thoughts of wanting to be dead, thoughts of being a failure, thoughts of my wife hating me even though she didn’t hate me at all, thoughts of God abandoning me. This would happen all the time. It was a pattern. Wife share grievance, I would shutdown and want to die.
Money was always an issue. Since I struggled with feeling any kind of worth, I would settle for low paying jobs. I remember always feeling like good paying jobs were way out of reach. I worked for a global security and life safety company as a service technician and liked what I did, but still not making enough money to pay bills. In 2013, my manager approached me about getting into sales. He said I had the potential to make twice as much money. He wasn’t lying. There were guys in other areas similar to mine making a lot of money. But that is them not me. The next couple of years would prove to be my hardest. Our income actually lowered instead of increased. Every failed sale was an added failure to the tally. Even good sales were added to the tally because they weren’t good enough.
I continued to hide bills from my wife and lie about things. It seemed like she was always upset about something. I just wanted her to be happy. I started to believe that the only way she could be happy was if I was gone. The kids would be sad, but better off with a different dad. I thought some pretty crazy stuff. It was so easy to see how everyone’s life could be better off if I had died. The mourning of my death would last a couple months, maybe a year and in the grand scheme of things, that’s not much suffering. I was able to justify my death in my head and it was so easy to do. I even knew how to do it to make it seem like an accident.
I remember several times of me driving down the road and I’m praying to a God that I didn’t know, only knew of him, and crying to him. God would play a Switchfoot or Thousand Foot Krutch song for me and speak to me through it. But I’m human and that feeling would wear off. However, more and more God would prove he’s real to me.
Those instances were all used to reach me in one of my darkest moments. I can’t remember the year and I can’t even remember what started the argument between my wife and I, but I remember thinking this is the last tally for my failures. It ends today. I was so upset I drove to a parking lot no one used on the weekends and turned off location settings on my phone. I sat there for hours, broken, trying to decide if this was the day to relieve my wife and kids and family of my existence. Trying to decide if this life was worth living, because the failures I make are too much for our marriage to continue to endure and I knew I would not survive life separated or divorced away from my wife and kids. It was the lowest I had ever been. I was remembering all of my failures as a husband, as a father, as a son, as a sibling and as a human. But in those hours, God was speaking to me. I didn’t know much about the Bible except the stories told in Sunday school. But what I found out then, was God is real and he’s for me, not against me, and he’s for my marriage and he’s for my kids and he is stronger than I am and he lifted the weight of failure off of me that day so that I could fight and live to tell you of his love. This moment in my car in an empty parking lot was my ‘turn around’ moment.
Though God met me there that day did not mean that my life was going to be easy. I’m still repairing damages done in my marriage and still paying for debts accumulated from bills, and I still have depressive episodes, and I still struggle with being a good husband and father. But what I do know, is that no matter how much I want to hate myself, God loves me and I know to keep my eye on him to get me through.
For me, depression is another way of saying I hate myself.
Truth be told, my father supplemented our electric bill for the entire time we lived out of town. Which I was grateful for, but embarrassed about and was another failure added to the tally