I started this site a couple of days before the New Year, in some free time squeezed out between shift work and sleeping. I don’t know if God gave me the idea for the blog or if He will just use it because I have started it. I love to write, and He gave me the gift of writing well (which I have to practise and polish, obviously!). But until today I have been struggling to know what to write.
And then, as always, when I’m not paying attention, inspiration struck. I’ve always known that this is a blog about my struggle through my own mental health while following Jesus. The title comes from the place where I retreat to when the outside world gets too much. Or the noise inside my head gets too much..! I curl up on my sofa with the heating on, light my candles to pretend that I still have an open fire, and wrap myself in my warm, snuggly blankets. It is a much easier place to try to sift through the pandemonium that is happening inside my head.
But again, why blogging? Why not just call a friend and talk to them about it? Why not just carry on as I have been doing, praying (and by praying, I quite often mean yelling and crying at God. If I could throw things, I probably would. Luckily for me He loves me no matter what I say to Him!) in the quiet and not ever telling anyone what is really going on. Other than my counsellor.
But, hiding this inside is not healthy. It is not helpful to me while I am still trying to get the thoughts to go in straight lines. So I want to be a bit more honest about it. And honesty is, quite frankly, terrifying. For someone who already assumes that other people always think the worst of them, the idea of telling my friends and family just how much I am struggling, pretty much paralyses me with fear.
I have worked out, over the last nine months to a year, that this time last year I was in an intensely unhappy place where I hated myself, my job, my flatmates and pretty much everything about my life, but I had no idea. It wasn’t until I had a weekend away and totally stopped thinking about anything to do with my normal life that I discovered an emotion was missing from my day to day life – happiness.
It has taken several months of counselling and countless hours of praying and crying to walk through hating myself so much that I wanted to kill myself (on several occasions), realising that I did not believe that I was allowed to have negative emotions, and starting, very slowly, to accept that God loves me with an everlasting love, and nothing that I can do will ever change that. I have had to fight against all my instincts, and all the voices in my head (which are my own, I recognise that) which have been talking negativity to me for so long. Sometimes it can get so loud inside my head in the battle between the negativity and the tiny struggle for positivity that I cannot bear to be around other people. I live in fear of the opinions of others so I cannot be honest with them; quite often my fear of them is so great that it stops me from communicating with them at all.
The thought of writing down those two paragraphs and sending them to some of my friends is … untenable. It just can’t be done. I am blogging under an assumed name, as the fear that even this tiny corner of the internet may be discovered by someone who knows me.
Perhaps this will be shown to people who love me at some later point. Because I am just not ready yet to accept that they love me enough to accept all the crazy that I’m dealing with.
But, finally, this is also a blog about hope. Because if you are reading this and you have felt how I have felt, or you even feel right now that you don’t want to go on – please go on for just a little bit longer. Ask for help, look for resources to keep you alive. I have faced up to my own level of self-hatred – so powerful that dying honestly seemed like the best plan. But I did not die. I did not do what I wanted to do. I managed, somehow, to hold on. To keep going. And so can you. I believe in you. I believe that somewhere inside you is a tiny, tiny spark that wants to keep going.
If you are a Christian too, I will blog another day about how completely God accepted me when I needed to take that jump. He loved me. No matter what.
If you are not, then you are a stronger person than me, because I could not do this by myself. But you, too, can get through this. This pain does NOT last forever. Please, please, reach out to someone – if there is no-one else, call the Samaritans. I have talked to them. They are nice.