Editor’s Note: This article contains details of the author’s struggle with depression and self-harm.
Written By Marissa Cathey, Mexico
The first few years, it was simply a sudden and unexpected heaviness of heart and mind. The feeling of being stuck in thick darkness and finding no safety. But it was overwhelming.
Losing control of my mind, seeing fear take over. Despair settling in. Hopelessness filling my heart.
I felt empty. I could see, but without understanding or emotion.
I was walking in a haze, just mindlessly going with the flow.
What I could feel was only confusion.
I passed each day confined to my mind. Depression suffocating my thoughts. It pulled the shades down on any window I encountered that might offer me a view of hope or a future. Sometimes it felt like there was no escape from the emptiness of my mind. I carried the heaviness of absence everywhere I went. But, I still wanted to have a normal, happy life.
Deep, deep down I knew there are wonders to be discovered, there is a future to behold, a purpose to fulfill. I wanted to be there to experience it all.
“But who am I? What am I even worth?” I could no longer see purpose and direction, my vision had been blurred by the fog.
I reached the climax this year, in 2018.
Clenching my head with both hands, I yelled for it to stop, to leave me alone. But the darkness became even more unbearable, circling and enclosing me tighter and tighter. I craved for escape and relief, but felt bound to fear. Unable to even cry out.
Only one solution floated through my mind, sly and intoxicating. A voice repeating over and over, “Hurt yourself, hurt yourself.”
I didn’t recognize this voice, but it taunted me and would not desist until it was obeyed. As my mind slowly gave in, it became enraptured with an obsessive urge to hurt myself. To end my life. Now there was only the desire of freedom from the ties of this pressing darkness.
The pain was terrifying, but I could not stop , I needed to escape from what had become a mental prison.
The blade ran across my skin, one long etch after another. “This isn’t truly what I want, it can’t be.” I’m someone who has wanted to live life to the fullest, embracing all that’s grand and extraordinary.
“This can’t be the answer. Where is God?” I knew I needed help, and I desperately wanted it from Him. I knew He could help. But would He still listen?
I look up, unable to call out, unable to see clearly, unable to feel much in my heart.
Then all of the sudden, a picture of a rope came into my mind. A hope to latch onto—Calling on His Name.
His holy, almighty Name.
The truest, most sincere cry arose from my heart. I couldn’t speak, my crying had turned to convulsions. But surely, even then He could hear me.
I felt a presence near me.
A presence greater than any other I’d felt. The room no longer seemed as if it were closing in. A breath of fresh air began flowing through me.
“Jesus, Jesus,” whispered my heart, “save me.”
And then, I saw again. I could feel again. Freedom. Release. Renewal. Peace. Purpose. The words came rushing in. Not from the voice before that was speaking harm, but a voice of truth and salvation. A voice of power and authority over all darkness and fear.
A voice that made the darkness flee and light burst in. All at the mere mention of its name. A voice my soul recognized as the only one worth listening to.
The voice of my King, my Lord, my Father.
…do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Worth lies in Him (Luke 12:7). Purpose comes from Him (1 Peter 2:9). Strength is found in Him (Psalm 46:1). Peace flows from Him (Philippians 4:7). I am first and foremost His (1 John 3:1). I belong, for I am loved (Jeremiah 31:1).
I am loved. Deeply and passionately. His own scars prove it. His own marks show my value (1 Peter 2:24).My gaze need not be on my self-inflicted scars, but rather resting on the illustrious glory of my Savior and the wounds He already bore in my place to give me life.
The depths of His love far surpass any darkness or fear.
How deep, how wide, how high is His love for us (Ephesians 3:18). For me. For you.
What beautiful, never-ending, unfailing, infinite love.
This is my story. It’s not an ending, but rather a beginning of renewed hope and joy. God restores and God redeems. Take courage.
As Christmas draws near, allow the word “hope” to resound in your mind. Allow it to manifest itself all the way into your heart and your soul. That is what Christ was born for, to bring hope. You have hope in Him as your powerful Savior and loving Father.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (1 Peter 1:3-6)
*In 2014, I started battling depression. In 2015, anxiety entered the picture. But it wasn’t until the end of 2017 that I finally got professional help and in 2018, was diagnosed with clinical depression and social anxiety. With the help of a wonderful Christian counselor as well as a Christian psychiatrist, I hopped on the road to recovery through medication and a renewed understanding of God’s love for me.
I recognize the need to fight depression both on the spiritual and biological front. This is so important for anyone struggling with mental illness to understand .
This doesn’t mean I’ll never experience hardship again. And taking medication is not the permanent solution, I could struggle with mental illness the rest of my life. Or not. I don’t know.
But even in the darkest moments, God never leaves me. And He will never leave you.
It’s okay to reach out and ask for help, both from Him and from people you trust. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting help to live a better, healthier life.
At the end of the day though, remember and hold on to the fact that God is your hope. He will always make a way forward.