A Life to Live, A Life to Give
The toughest week of my life had just ended. However, it was also one of the most important and perspective changing weeks that I have ever experienced. I'd like to share my story with you in hopes that you can get something out of it you might not have thought of before or ever considered. So here it goes.
I grew up in the church. I went to vacation bible school as a kid, got my very own Bible in third grade, and went on most of the youth retreats and mission trips as well. However, a few years ago I started to fall into a mild depression that started to impact my involvement at church. I went undiagnosed for a couple years but recently, in the past year or so, my depression has severely worsened and I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Along with this, it is likely that I may have a form of a mood disorder such as Bipolar.
All of this came at me at what seemed like the speed of light. It was overwhelming. I was put on a variety of medications which helped some, but I still found it difficult to just function in ways such as life at home and attending school.
Specifically, in the past month or two, I started more intense treatment then I had previously been participating in. I went into a partial hospitalization program in Fairfax, VA. In this program, I felt like I had benefited greatly for the three weeks I was there. The problem was that my parents and I weren't seeing that many results outside of the program. We ended up moving on to a more intensive center.
The next stop was Dominion Hospital in Falls Church, VA. I went in there confident that I would receive the treatment I wanted, but was immediately let down when I realized that the whole point of the program was to maintain my safety, which was not an issue at the moment and not why I had chosen to be admitted there. I would even go to the extent of saying that my mental health decreased during my week-long stay there due to an unhealthy environment that I wasn't used to, filled with non-stop talk of drugs, alcohol, self-harm, etc. I was frustrated that my parents wouldn't discharge me when I felt that I needed to be allowed to go home. However, it wasn't until I finally got back home that things took a turn for the worse.
The first full day that I was back at home, I was bombarded with frustration, especially regarding my parents' recent decisions. I was angry because they didn't feel like I was in a place to remain at home and they wanted to send me to a residential treatment center. After I refused to attend my weekly therapy session, my parents left me at home.
Then I did something that I'm still trying to process. A very impulsive thought flared up in my mind. I wasn't prepared for it so I didn't know what to do with it. So in my confusion, I acted on it. I went upstairs and filled a cup with all the medication and pills that I could find. I swallowed all of them, and went back downstairs to be around my brothers. My arms and legs started shaking and tears filled my eyes. The severity of what I had just done began to hit me. As soon as my grandmother walked through the front door to check on me and my brothers, I called her into the living room and revealed the terrible mistake that I had made. We dialed 911 and the ambulance was at my house within a few minutes. We raced to the emergency room, sirens blaring, as they took all of my vitals and hooked me up to certain monitors. Once we arrived at the hospital, I had to undergo procedures to try and absorb the medications in my stomach and my bloodstream. I was put on an IV to administer fluids to help flush everything out of my system. After a couple hours in the E.R., I was transported by ambulance to Inova Fairfax Hospital where now we reached another problem.
A certain medication that I had ingested was increasing every hour to dangerously high levels. Luckily, after peaking a bit too close for comfort, the level started to gradually fall back down.
After another day of monitoring, I was finally medically cleared. I remained in the hospital for two more days as we decided where my next stop for treatment would be. Then, on the third night in the hospital, I was transferred to a D.C. Hospital for further treatment. After spending a few days there, I was cleared to return back home. And I was never feeling better, for many reasons.
I feel safe in saying that I believe that God used these events to make me realize how far I had drifted from him. I believe that my faith has been renewed though all of this and that God used this crisis as a wake-up call. In Romans 8:28, God promises that he can use anything that has happened to you for good. And in my few days in the hospital, I believe my perspective on my current situation and my future completely changed. My faith began to reach new heights that it had never reached before.
First off, while in the hospital recovering, my aunt came to visit me. We spent hours talking about my personal faith and how to control impulses. We visited a passage in Ephesians about the Armor of God. This consists of the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, and the shoes of the gospel of peace. In your hands are the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit. I was reminded of what each piece does for me.
The helmet reminds me of my salvation and assurance of God's hand in my life. The breastplate of righteousness is there to cover me with the righteousness that comes from not my power but from Christ's. The belt of truth is there to remind me of everything God has shown me and will show me. The shoes of the gospel of peace represent the power of the gospel in my life and my ability to share it with others. The shield of faith protects me from all the flaming arrows the evil one shoots at me, such as impulsive thoughts that are meant to harm me and my future. And finally, the sword of the spirit- the word of God, the Bible- is my most powerful weapon against the attacks of the enemy. I wanted to experience this power and protection that was available to me.
I changed my focus from desiring what I personally want to desiring whatever God wants to give me. The way I see it is that a life turned over to Christ is a life where emotions complement things but do not control them.
Before this incident, I couldn't remember the last time that I honestly prayed. And I'm sure that when I did, I was more or less pretending to pray when in reality I was really just worrying. But I believe that if I live in my past and refuse to move on, I won't get to experience the beautiful life that God has planned for me.
I honestly have never felt more confident in my life then right now, because I have my trust in the Lord and believe that He has a plan for me. Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
I received so much love and support from both my family and friends throughout this difficult, yet reassuring time. The hope and happiness everyone gave me was so amazing that I hope they all know what a difference they made in my life, either though checking in or praying for me. I owe so much thanks to all of these people.
Finally, I hope that everyone who hears my story is able to reflect upon their own faith and situation and take something positive away from what I have shared. Although in no way do I believe that you have to be in a vulnerable situation, God seems to seek us out in these times of need. What I hope is that if you are feeling depressed or anxious that you will talk to someone responsible that you can trust, and that you truly invite Christ into your life. There's one final verse that I'd like to share. Colossians 3:9-10 says, “You've gotten rid of the person you used to be and the life you used to live, and you've become a new person.”