TRIGGER WARNING: This post includes information about suicidal ideation. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelline at 1 (800) 273-8255. You can also call 911 or go to the emergency room where care is mandatory.
I never thought I would make it to 35. I don’t know where this thought came from but I never saw myself as someone who entered the second third of their life. I could see my young adult years clearly but I couldn’t envision being the age I am now. I used to think that I would be married with kids. That all changed after my divorce, which became official three years ago this month. In addition to that, the more I learned to embrace the fullness of who I am, the further away I got from the vision of being a mother. I don’t know that I’m cut out to parent. In many ways, my life has gone in a direction that I never could have imagined and for that I am grateful. But I never thought I would make it to see myself where I am today. My depression convinced me that my life wasn’t worth living.
Suicidal thoughts used to run rampant though my mind. I would imagine how I would kill myself – nothing too messy or painful. A drug overdose would be right up my alley. I imagined going to sleep and never waking up. I didn’t think I would really be missed. I haven’t shared this reality with many but it’s my truth. For so long I thought my life was a mistake and that I would be better off if I killed myself.
I honestly don’t know where these thoughts come from. I don’t know why mental illness is my shadow. I don’t know why there is a heaviness of my soul when I am not well; a heaviness that threatens to choke the life right out of me. I don’t know how I got to be this way or what it means for my future.
I do know this though – I believe that God walks with me, in the valley of the shadow of death and that I shall fear nothing. It’s easier said than believed at times but it’s all I’ve got.
I woke up this morning thanking God for my life – for all of my life. I thanked God for my family and for my friends; for the people who continually show up in my life in ways that are downright overwhelming; for those who give to me as much as I give to them; for experiences that allow me to connect with various communities; for my story, which continues to teach me about grace, compassion and love. I woke up thanking God today that I’ve made it this far and asking that my life be a blessing to others so that people know that they are not alone and that there is s a God who walks with them, even in the darkest moments.
I also woke up this morning praying for my sisters and brothers who have taken their lives; for those who have lost the battle against mental illness; for their families and those who love them.
The more I learn and experience, the less I know to be true without a shadow of a doubt. Today, the only thing I can say is that God’s grace is amazing and I am oh so thankful. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you come to embrace your WHOLE self and recognize that you are worthy and loved and enough.
Hang in there, you are important, loved, valuable. God has claimed you as Her own, and you speak the honesty from your heart that touches others; to save them, to save you. Your deep feelings are one of your many gifts. You hurt deeper, so you can care and love deeper than others. This world needs you. I will hold you close in my heart in prayer, thank you for sharing your thoughts and revelations. You speak for those who cannot find their voice, and you lift them up.
Happy 35th Birthday, Rozella…just a couple of days late! And thank you for your words last Saturday night at The Gathering. I hope to share them with a young friend who was not with us in Detroit. You continue to teach me…
I met you at MYLE a couple of weeks ago. Happy belated birthday. I, too, have dealt with depression all my adult life. Thank you for speaking up about it. But thank you also for your work and know that you have a LOT of value, no matter what your shadow tells you. You are a Superwoman! You have incredible talent and really made a difference to a lot of youth by doing an amazing job planning and making MYLE happen.
[…] authentic reflection about life, love, and the challenges of mental illness and anxiety in “A Word on My Birthday.” Thank you for sharing […]