Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1: 3-5
When I was 15 one of the most traumatic and stressful events in my life happened which altered the course of my teenage years and early adult life.
I remember my mother telling me that my older brother had been in an accident, that she and my dad were going to the hospital about three hours away and that I would be staying at a friends house that night. Her face was pale, her eyes were filled with tears, and I was confused and scared. The next day came, and a family friend gave me a ride to the hospital, and after a restless night filled with questions, the answers I got were few and far between.
I know that my brother was working on a tractor-trailer when something went wrong, and his pelvis ended up pinned between the trailer and the ground. He was airlifted to the nearest trauma center that could handle the severity of his injuries, and his heart stopped twice during that flight. The doctors didn’t believe he was going to make, but they were going to give it their best shot. But I didn’t know any of this until much later.
From my point of view, this was the beginning of a three-month span of him being shuffled between surgery and ICU with little to no idea of what was going on.
By the grace of God, my brother was released from the hospital and while he does have some limitations of movement and occasional pain his physical recovery was nothing short of a miracle.
My emotional recovery, however, would take much longer.
What I Did:
Since most of the physical drama was occurring in a hospital several hours away from my home and I was still a freshman in high school, I had to return to my hometown to go to school during the week.
For the first month of this ordeal, my parents were in the hospital with my brother full time, which meant I needed someone to stay with. Fortunately, I was blessed to have a friend who welcomed me into their home. However, instead of being thankful that God had provided a place for me I felt abandoned by my family. I knew they were keeping me out of the loop with what was happening with my brother and now they weren’t even in the same home I came back to every night.
Logically I understood that my parents needed to be there for my brother and in hindsight, it’s clear that some of their secrecy was out of a desire to spare me most of the grim reality of the situation. But at that moment in my heart, it felt like I was a clear number two priority for my parents. It felt like the only people who were supposed to be there unconditionally for me were gone. Meanwhile, I was going to school and classmates and teachers would ask how my brother was doing and I had nothing to tell them. My reaction to this was to stop talking to people to keep myself from thinking about him and the embarrassment of not having any news on his condition.
By the second month, my parents had a system where one of them was with my brother, and the other was at home with me. This allowed me to further my isolation by losing contact with the friend I had stayed with and just stay at home as much as possible. The stress of this was taking a toll on more than just my relationships and my test performance at school started to decline, something that was already dicey due to test anxiety, dyslexia, and ADHD.
By the time my brother was released from the ICU, I was spending my weekends losing myself in fiction in his hospital room rather than trying to resuscitate my flailing grades. My weeks were consumed by depression and anxiety and the feeling that I was truly alone in the world.
By the time the my brother was able to come home and the school year was over I was so into my isolation that I demanded that I be homeschooled so I wouldn’t have to even see people my age during the week. I spent the next 4 years struggling to finish high school online while working full time in a preschool, with no friends my age, dealing with severe depression, and a future that looked bleak at best.
Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?
What I Learned:
Isolation is never the answer
To steal a phrase from my husband “Christianity is a team sport.” I felt miserable and alone for years because I decided to be defensive rather than letting trustworthy people in and sharing what was going on in my life. With the risk of sounding crazy, I can say for certain that the longer you go without communication with other the more convincing the voices in your head become. Depression and isolation are a vicious cycle that can be broken! If you are a Christian and feel yourself slipping into depression or isolating yourself, let someone know!
God is able to comfort me
My biggest mistake in this whole story. Bigger than staying out of community, bigger than isolating myself from people who cared about me, was not trusting that God was in control and that he had a plan for my life. My hope was in myself and my ability to make myself comfortable in my surroundings. This led me to collapse when I was no longer able to do that. I would encourage anyone who is in the pit of depression or hopelessness to examine what is giving their life meaning. If it isn’t God then it will always let you down.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
What God Has Done:
My goal with sharing this story isn’t to share how my life was terrible and that I lived miserably ever after. I want to show the mistakes I’ve learned from, so hopefully, you won’t have to repeat them. I also want you to know that if you’ve made similar mistakes that God can and will redeem you.
Since this is a new blog and you don’t know a lot of my story I wanted to tell you that my attitude and life has improved significantly since my dark teenage years. I’ve been renewed and transformed into a person whose greatest joy in life is building others up.
If anyone reading this can relate at all to my feelings of depression and anxiety, I want to let you know that I am here for you and I am praying for you. More importantly though God loves you and you were not created to live a miserable existence. I pray that you would turn to him. If you are interested but don’t aren’t comfortable alone or don’t know how to talk to God, reach out to me in the comments or the social media of your choice.