A story from an anonymous person that wanted to tell her story.
Why am I telling my story? I feel that it is my duty to share it with you. Here is how it goes.
I was posting on my personal Facebook page. I had written a quote from God that I had written on my arm. As I was posting another message popped up that I had not seen before. The message was asking if I wanted to support my community. Something about Dying for Life. I said yes and connected with you
I grew up with 3 sisters and my parents in Minnesota. In my childhood, I believed that I was safe. Of course, I had fears like all children, but overall, my life was secure. Growing up we had what we needed, better than many across the world. I was a confident girl growing up in security, but something seemed to settle in me in my life as I grew up – some fear that I could not explain.
As I passed through my teenage years, I knew what I was going to do with my life, or so I thought. I was going to teach, something with music, in a career that I would later form in college. I made choices as I started my adult life, choices that made a significant impact on my life. Whether these choices were the will of God or choices that I fostered upon myself, I will never know. I know that these choices had a great impact on my life. I chose to attend college in IL, and there is where I met him. That boy – young and searching as I was – that connected with my heart. A direct connection, that although it was good or not, I was to have him. I needed him, with a fervor I did not understand.
Why this boy? Why this other searching soul?
I did not know, but I would pursue him, whether or not it was my life plan, or God’s plan, I wanted to be with him.
This boy held a spot in my life that I could not explain. But something else seemed to leech the life out of my soul, one tiny speck at a time. This thing had a name, and it was called depression.
Depression, something I had not experienced before, crept through each crevasse of my person, slowly at first. But this depression kept growing, like cancer that I was not aware of. I could feel the changes, I could see the outcome of what it was doing to me, but I could not understand it.
I started to have less focus or zest for my life. Ordinary things become too extraordinary to complete, little things, like classes, eating, and getting out of bed. Why move forward when it seemed so hard? The grey cloud settled over me like a heavy coat, and I could not shed it, even on the warmest sunny day.
I didn’t know if I should continue college. Everything just seemed so difficult – it was hard to even exist in a space that made sense to me.
WHEN? I had a trip to Mexico with my church group planned. What should have been a great opportunity to both be in an amazing country while serving others seemed like just too much to bear. My older sister had already arrived and I was expected to join her. At that time, I was so down that I could not even think about what I needed to bring with me or what to pack. My family had to take charge of the situation and gather my clothing, my essentials and although I was late, I finally arrived at the group to head out.
I didn’t want to engage with anyone and spent the van ride sitting alone, in my own space. In those moments, everything felt dark and overwhelming, like giant storm clouds sitting on my chest. I was invited to stay with my sister – she was staying with a pastor and his family at their home during the visit, and although I may have appeared functional and capable, I was not.
I felt my sister’s concern for me – she knew that something was wrong and that I was struggling. She was praying for me regularly, having conversations with God on my behalf.
In the dark of night, I recognized my sister’s voice reaching out to me – I could hear her voice, singing, praying to me, trying to reach through the darkness. She was a persistent warmth, trying to reach into my heart and bring some heat to the cold darkness that had enveloped me. As I pretended to sleep, I could still hear her melodic voice trying to break that outer shell of my existence.
I can still hear the song – Muévete En Mí, which means Move Within Me – the lyric is requesting that God touch our hearts and fill us with His love.
In those moments, she seemed the stronger sister. This was a definitely a reversal from what I knew in the past, as she was not the sibling that exuded strength – but here she was, trying to lift me up with her prayers and song. But her heartfelt approach did not bring me out of the pit, the sliding down continued, at that moment, and beyond.
My life continued to slip away, when even dressing for church became too much, and I would lie in bed, dressed, for no one to see, living in misery.
That South American boy that I was so enamored with soon became my husband – life continued to move as I continued to be stuck. As time ticked by, I realized that I was unable to deal with normal life, as I slipped away bit by bit, like pieces of a puzzle falling to the floor, never to be found again. In 2006, I found myself lying on the floor, aware of my surroundings, but unwilling, unable, or not interested in responding to my husband, who was furiously trying to get me to respond to him.
Psychosis? Disinterest? I am unsure, but at that moment, I lost touch with reality and myself completely. As the paramedics arrived, I could hear them asking questions, so many questions…
“Is she pregnant? Does she do drugs? What did you do? What has happened to her?”
He was frantic and I was not responding – aware but not aware, present but not present. I was floating along like a leaf in a stream, just existing, but not participating.
As many people struggling with mental health do, I ended up in a mental health hospital. My roommate was someone that had attempted to commit suicide, and I was not sure what I was doing there? Was I really so unhinged?
I was there for three days, and then I went home. Things did not get better, I tried medication, recovery groups and maybe I did get a little better.
But there were more hospital trips, more recovery, but it was an endless cycle.
I worked hard to appear normal, to BE normal, but it was an ongoing struggle. I found myself trying to be okay but it did not seem to make life better. On a night that I spent following a pilates video, over and over, and over, I called the crisis line. I felt so bad, so so bad, and I just could not get myself to feel better. I told them how bad I felt, and they told me to just keep doing the video.
How was that helpful? Well, it really was not.
I kept on doing the video until my husband came home – and it was back to the hospital. I spent one night in the mental health unit and went home.
My husband brought me home and told me we were through… our life together was over.
I moved home to Minnesota with my parents. At that time, my mom was already sick with Early Onset Alzheimer’s; she could not comfort me, and I ended up trying to help to care for her. I was so broken that I was not much help. I could take her to the shower, help make her food. At other times I was wrapped in my own bubble, sleeping all day or watching movies. My life now revolved around helping her and living my own spiraling life until she was moved to a nursing home for care.
Being divorced, I felt like a failure; I was sincerely hurt and just didn’t understand this rejection by my husband. I felt so lost. The next several years were spent in a cycle of sadness and hospitalization. Admission to the Emergency room, then to the mental health center, then home.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
It was becoming apparent to me that I was not getting any better, and the risk of me being committed to a hospital long-term seemed to be getting closer to me every day.
I just could not get better.
At some point I just wanted it all to end – this endless cycle of failure and defeat.
I just could not get better.
In 2009, I started to attend a Spanish-speaking church and started to meet some new people. The church message was usually filled with praise music. Although I still wanted to run away from all of life, church, as a whole, was really nice. I typically tried to escape quickly after the services to avoid engaging with people.
A good friend of the pastor, this woman from Chile, was someone that wanted to talk to me. I worked diligently to not speak to.
The questions were the same – “How are you? What’s new?”
In the depth of my soul, I felt an intense panic that wrapped around my heart when she tried to speak with me. I had no trust for other human beings, and I was so afraid to talk with her.
One day I decided to be brave – to step just one step closer into the light of day and engage with this person that had been persistent enough to put up with my limited responses. Ever tiny steps forward, I engaged and she responded.
I lived through it, but nothing changed.
I had to find a remedy to this ongoing pain and suffering. Nothing filled the emptiness – not talking, not sleeping, not eating. Nothing. I finally prayed to God…
“Jesus, who are you? I thought that I knew you but I must not really know you because I’m hurting myself like this…”
My prayer was broken, a cry for help. It wasn’t pretty but it was a desperate conversation with God.
I continued to attend worship service and assist with the music programs. During this time, I did cross paths with different people, but no one really stuck. It almost felt like living in a bubble that had blown up around me – I could see out, people could see in, but no connections occurred.
I would sit by myself and let the music flow through me, around me, just being.
Until that time, that time seven years after my divorce. A nice-looking man was at the service, and he stopped near me and greeted me with a hello. I turned and walked away. Who was I to be worthy of such a greeting? I was just trying to survive.
I continued to participate in the music programming at the Sunday services, playing guitar, trying to connect, to be present, and I started to allow the songs to penetrate my heart. This gentle opening into my heart allowed me to feel just a little bit more – allowed me to start to fall in love with God.
I wanted to be better, I wanted to do this one thing, this one thing for God. No one else, just God. This musical connection, singing with God.
And it seemed to be working.
There was a day that I did not think, I just DID something. I walked up to that man, the one that showed me kindness. I gave him a warm smile and a handshake, and I asked him out to eat.
My New Beginning
That man is now my husband, and no, we do not have the perfect relationship. In fact, there have been many times that we thought we would not make it through the hardest of times. Many times we thought it was over.
I feel that God is helping us to heal, both of us. My husband has had his own scary life journey through drug addiction, but we are both fighters.
As I have matured and grown older, I can see that as a child growing up, I blamed people around me for problems. I believed that everyone else had the problem, but not me. There was no way that I was the problem. It was easy to blame others – my parents, my past, my ex-husband, but nothing was my fault.
Little by little, as I paid more attention to my life, I realized that I have 100% responsibility for myself. Whether it was pride, or fear, or something else, I have found that I needed to accept myself as who I am. For me, mental illness developed out of pride, not dealing with life. I know I struggle, particularly still with sleep, but I am better when I am humble, I live life better.
Humbleness has helped.
I have a job now that I am proud of – that is all that matters. Although you may not understand why I am proud of it – I work for Chik-fil-A. Yep, a job that is usually filled with teenagers is my career. The leaders support me, and I work to support them.
On June 11th, 2021, I came home from work feeling burdened and sad. As I lay in bed quietly crying, my son asked me, “Are you crying, Mommy?”
I responded, “Yes, but I will be okay. It was really hard at work today, but I know God is taking care of me. He is shaping me as a Potter shapes the clay. Even though I don’t like it right now but even though it hurts, God is helping me through it.”
I was quiet again, lying in bed when I heard the name. The name of a specific person that I don’t know personally. This name was spoken to my heart, not an audible voice, only a peaceful knowing in heart and mind.
The name that I believe God put on my heart is Michele Pillar. This does not happen to me often, this voice from God. I was quite interested to know why God would care to put Michele Pillar’s name in my mind and heart. I got up from my bed and searched her videos on YouTube. There was an interview recorded the first week of June with another woman interviewing her. In the interview, Michele talks about the miracle of forgiveness. She was not able to forgive her mother until she was in her 50s after asking God to do the miracle of forgiveness in her heart because she couldn’t forgive her mom on her own. Later, she was able to forgive her father as well.
After seeing this video, I now regularly pray for the miracle of forgiveness to take place in me when I am struggling in certain relationships.
I am in a place of loving support. I am humbled and productive.
This is my story and I believe I struggled for so long with prideful choices.
I believe I have an enemy called the devil, and he lied to me as a child, in those years, bringing fear to me, causing me distress and such unhappiness.
I believe that I have a choice to find happiness, and being humbled, I now can look at the devil and say “You are a dirty liar, and I will not listen to you.”
My belief is that when a person seeks God and does what the bible tells us to do – Love God, Love our neighbors, and love ourselves – and we put this in practice, the Devil doesn’t like it.
My biggest battle in life is not the devil, a person, my son, or my friends.
The biggest battle are within ourselves
It is easy to talk bad about someone else and throw the blame there. It is much harder to stop and look at yourself; to see if you are the problem, what I could do to be better, or what I need to learn about myself.
Beyond our own plans and dreams, I believe God loves us deeper and more than we could ever know. I complicated my own life to the point it was not livable. When I reduced it down to my focus on God, it strengthened me to be able to move through my days.
I find myself not doing well when I allow judgment and criticalness of others to creep in; my inner strength rises when I am humble and focused on my faith.
God says that I don’t need to prove anything. God loves me just the way.