Hi. I’m Michelle.
Let’s go down memory lane, shall we?
So I had a pleasantly normal childhood. Social status: Middle class family of believers. Everything changed completely the day I lost my mother. It was 2 months after I had just entered the grueling world of teenage-hood (13th birthday). Dangit! None of it made any sense no matter how hard I tried to re-trace where things could have gone wrong and me missing the signs that she wasn’t okay. The thing that kills me every time is that the last time I saw her before being shipped to boarding school, I was mad at her for not buying my favorite snacks. And that unfortunately, is the wound I will have to carry for the rest of my earthly days.
So here I am, I’ve lost my best friend. Now what? The 7 stages of grief gracefully waltzed into my life. I had a hard time with the denial stage. Some days I’d literally think of going to her grave site and dig her out because in my mind I was convinced we had buried her alive and she was waiting for us to come save her. On other days I would eagerly wait for her to come and bully me out of bed so I could get ready for Sunday service.
I suffer from anxiety and chronic depression and my worst episode hit in 2017. The issue of mental health has unfortunately been treated as a dark gloomy omen in the African culture. I remember after my mother’s death we barely got a touch of therapy partly because we were really young and our elders assumed that we were too young to understand death.
They probably missed the part that death leaves a terrible void, ALWAYS. You carry this feeling of emotional detachment that constantly reminds you that something is missing from your being. And if you are not fortunate enough to have someone to vocalize these feelings to, well, this is how we become, DAMAGED! Feelings of brokenness are the most painful burden to carry through life. It completely shatters how you view yourself (self esteem). Self esteem affects our attitude and our attitude inherently affects how we handle ourselves in our physical environments. Our behaviors consequently give room for people to treat us the way we treat ourselves. You see the pattern here? Bad attitude = Bad associations, Bad relationships, Bad soul ties. All things categorically bad!
Back to the story- So I was in college when I had my first severe mental breakdown and my performance had terribly deteriorated. For such a conscious high achiever as myself, my anxiety shot up as I felt like I was losing control over my life. I’m an obsessively compulsive perfectionist you see. I like things to happen the way I want them to happen, when I want them to happen. But life will always be life and as much as we plan our ways, I’ve learnt this over the course of my existence that I serve a God who will always have the final say and that’s why Proverbs 16:9 will forever be one of my favorite verses as I’ve learnt this truth the hard way.
Proverbs 16:9 – A man’s heart plans his way but the Lord directs his steps
When I had my breakdown, I didn’t care about my existence at this point. I was ready to die. I didn’t care whether my presence mattered or not to the next person. I was alone or rather, I FELT alone. I didn’t think anyone cared about how I felt. I even tried taking my own life once, EPIC FAIL! I look back at that moment and I always wonder, WHY? Why me? Why did God care so much about my existence in that moment that I had to survive? I can’t say I’ve come to the reckoning of that moment. I still haven’t. In fact, whenever I think back at that moment, I laugh. I laugh so hard at my own foolishness but one thing I can tell you undoubtedly is that GOD IS GOOD! Even a bottle of pills couldn’t stand in the way of His plans. You can never disrupt what He himself has prepared. What God Himself has opened, nobody can ever shut! Life is His to give and His to take.
Dear friend, It hurts, I know. Some days you don’t even feel like getting out of bed and facing the world? I feel you. People may constantly step on your feelings or side swipe you at every opportunity they get. Hectic! But allow me to tell you something even more interesting; IT’S NOTHING NEW! You might think that you are alone but the truth is you aren’t. In fact, someone experienced it way harder than you have. His name is Jesus and life came at him harder than anyone else I know. But still, through out all that chaos He never changed. He never looked visibly shaken on most occasions. He was a silent hurricane. Though life waged wars around him, he remained true to His calling. I can’t imagine myself maintaining this same type of composure. It takes an incomprehensible level of grace to bypass all that. But here’s the amazing part, I don’t have to do it alone! Christ already went before me and defeated the pain. He defeated the confusion. He defeated the anxiety.
He defeated the depression. Now all I have to do is take his hand and rest in His peace. And to me, that’s real untainted POWER! That’s my power. And nobody can ever take that power away from me because it is not from man that I received this power. Being a Christian does not mean you are immune to anxiety or depression though. My favorite apostle , Paul, battled with depressive thoughts quite frequently. However, what changes is the power that you choose to lean on. I choose to trust Jesus Christ, and as a result I’ve been granted peace. Not as the world giveth mind you. Not even! I’ve been given EVERLASTING peace. Abundant peace. And as long as I remain rooted and dwell in the secret place of the Most High, depression has not right to be here!
I may not know the full details of your pain, friend, but you are not alone. In Christ, you will NEVER be alone. So, choose the Captain of your boat wisely and in the day that the high tides of life come crushing in on you, may your foundation be firm.
Much love to you little fighter! Press on!
𝗪𝗥𝗜𝗧𝗧𝗘𝗡 𝗕𝗬:Michelle Mudzengi