At the beginning of last year, I was facing anxiety on multiple fronts. I was exhausted from being my daughter’s constant caregiver and from debilitating mental health problems. Then I lost my job after my position was declared redundant while I was on maternity leave.
While other people were looking forward to the coming year with profound hope, I was starting mine with dread.
Despite feeling paralysed by anxiety, I fought hard to hope and believe in God. I had good days where I’d wake up, shower, have quiet time, and take walks with my baby while listening to music. During these moments, I readily believed in God’s ability to care for us as He cares for the birds and dresses the lilies with splendour.
However, most days were filled with overwhelming darkness where I’d hole myself up in my bedroom. Everyday tasks like responding to messages, showering, or even just drawing the curtains back became tasks I dreaded.
Activities that once brought great joy become drudgery-filled activities. I would try to reread my favourite books and listen to my favourite podcasts, but I would lose focus as soon as I started. I simply couldn’t find the strength to read my Bible and pray.
As mental and physical exhaustion took hold of me, my vision of God became tainted as I drifted into a shark-infested sea where life’s problems seemed unending.
God’s help came through someone
Throughout this dark time, one thing I was able to pray for was for God to connect me with a Biblical counsellor. I’d done therapy before and I knew its benefits. I longed for flexible sessions where, if I wasn’t able to attend sessions physically, the therapist would come to me. In my hour of need, God providentially connected me to a Christian counsellor through a friend, to whom I’d mentioned that I needed help.
For a couple of months, my Fridays were filled with tears of bitterness as I recounted to my counsellor how God had “disappointed” me, how I felt unloved and perhaps forgotten.
Like Job’s friends did, my counsellor sat with me in the abyss and constantly directed me to the Bible. Every week, she would give me assignments that included verses to memorise, verses that would aid me in my fight against unbelief. Some of the verses that carried me through the darkness include 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Colossians 3:12-15, and Ephesians 1:3-6. I would also write down raw and unfiltered personal prayers, what Scripture I’d read, and my takeaway from the passage.
At first, I doubted that I could keep up with the assignments; however, my counsellor made it very clear from the onset that the assignments were not a “must do”. On days where I struggled to do them, I would simply log exactly what I was feeling. In hindsight, even this was helpful because it spurred a deeper level of self-awareness, and it now helps me to look back and see God’s faithfulness.
After a couple of months of counselling, it was in May when the tides changed. On my birthday, I had another session where I recounted my broken dreams and dashed hopes. I openly voiced my spiritual struggles, mental state, and emotional turmoil. And in response, my counsellor again reassured me that in spite of my circumstances, God loved me.
Although my mind knew this before, it was only on that day when my heart and mind were finally able to reconcile on this truth. By the time the session ended, I no longer doubted God’s love. My soul and mind knew that I was loved and that I was not alone.
Two things I’ve learnt about depression are: one, you never know when it will lift; and two, even though it seems unending, the cloud will eventually lift. In times like this, it is good to let people know what you’re going through. In my case, I was able to overcome the darkness with the help of someone continually preaching to my heart until I believed.
Things hadn’t changed, but my mind was being renewed
God was kind enough to lift my cloud after five months. He opened my mind to understanding His Word which then became food to my wearied spirit. He gave me a renewed hope that joy comes in the morning; I only have to withstand the night.
Even as I continued to be my child’s primary caregiver, He eventually used family to care for me and my child and I was able to rest. Throughout this period, all I did was be a willing participant by surrendering every single thing to Him in prayer. On some days, the prayer was as simple as “God, help me!” and He would provide the strength for me to fight that day’s battles.
While I felt the shift in my emotional state, there was no change in the circumstances I was facing. I was still jobless and still feeling physically and mentally exhausted. However, due to the constant renewal of my mind by God’s word, the darkness was lifting; my burdens were no longer only mine to carry, and I fought my anxieties with the sword of the Spirit.
I decided to improve my physical well-being so I could continue to fulfil my roles as mother, daughter, sister, and friend. To combat my physical exhaustion, I began to work out almost every day. I started light by walking, and kept the exercises simple. I’d loved dancing from when I was young, so I included dance in my exercises. To boost my motivation, I would treat myself to a movie, a dress, or whatever else I fancied at the end of every month, depending on my performance.
Even as the rejection emails continued streaming in, I found myself assured that when the time comes for me to get a job, God would orchestrate the process. And He eventually did. I finally got a job in late 2022 after a tumultuous six months of joblessness.
What I’ve learned
In hindsight, were there things I could have done better? Yes, perhaps. For one, seeking therapy earlier. I took my time in seeking help because I didn’t think I was in a dire state. I downplayed my struggles and kept insisting that I was okay. Now, I’m learning some of the warning signs which include exhaustion, insomnia, a lack of motivation, anxiety, sadness, apathy, to mention but a few.
However, through this experience, I have intimately experienced God as my provider and comforter. He is real, personal, and practical. And ultimately, He is the one who keeps me in the faith. My faith would have given way were it not for Christ holding me fast.
When 2022 drew to a close, I felt more than grateful to God for how He preserved me. Now I’m able to enter the new year with more confidence, after having gone through the refiner’s fire. I believe this was God’s way of loving me and strengthening my faith in Him as my sole provider and my rest.
This year, I’m looking forward to going out with my daughter a lot more, having more regular catch ups with my friends, continued therapy sessions, reading more books, trying out different types of tea, visiting new restaurants, and buying my first car. What I’m confident in is that even as I look forward to enjoying these things, I know God has fully wrapped me in His presence and that no one can ever snatch me from His hand.Back to Homepage