There is so much beauty in this life, but we have to choose it. There is always a choice.
Roughly a year ago, I was in a very dark place. My doctor gave me a medication that we both thought I needed, but which I didn’t realize would cause extreme depression. I woke up every morning with a gnawing in my gut, a feeling that I had screwed up my whole life. I had made decisions, I thought, that prevented any possibility at happiness. And I decided it was better not to live. I just had to figure out how I was going to end it.
My mother, bless her soul, was at her wit’s end. The woman who would walk through fire for me in a heartbeat, who always finds a solution, had none. She didn’t know how to save me. So she took me for grilled cheese and she took me for pancakes, and she hugged me when I asked for a hug, because in those darkest moments, that’s all she could do.
“I can’t imagine a world without you in it,” she said, when I told her suicide made the most sense. And I wished I felt the same about myself.
I just wanted to end the pain. That’s all it was. My whole body was a dark hole, a fire of pain that could not be pinpointed to a particular place. I was in the depths of despair. I was in hell.
There was a demon inside of me, maybe more than one.
What I kept doing was asking for help. I knew to do that much. It was all I had left. My friend Beth, who had gone through depression herself, took me for breakfast, and she hugged me and told me, “Just don’t kill yourself,” because she knew that it was as simple as that: a choice. My grandmother took me to get my nails done, because I was desperate and needy, and she didn’t know what else to do with me. When I told my therapist I wanted to end my life, he told me that suicide was a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.” But what I was going through did not feel temporary. I felt that my life was already over. I had no hope. So it was just a matter of making the physical leap.
On my walks in the morning, one of the only times I felt okay, I had a sense that I was battling something inside me, something like the devil. And I stared it down as I took each step. I said, You will not defeat me. You have no idea who I am. And then, finally, I made a commitment to myself. I will thrive.
At night, as I ached, I prayed to God that my strength would return.
Battling that depression was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I felt that no one understood me, understood the obliterating pain I was going through. But I prayed. I prayed hard. Even though I felt that my life I was over, I still loved my kids, and I had to take care of them. I would do anything for them, including staying alive.
Finally my doctor found a mix of medications that began to work to push my demon down, to not let her have such power. Three months after my depression began, it abated. I went to Santa Fe. I hiked and I shopped for turquoise, and I watched the sunset at a bar with a couple who was celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. I listened to opera in a church with a woman whose husband and son had died, but who still smiled and bought art and squeezed my hand. I met two women who, after their respective divorces, found each other and fell in love. And then there was another woman who was my soul sister, who danced to the beat of an African drum, nothing holding her hips back from swaying to the music. We sat together and she told me I had my responsibilities, of course, but I could still live a full life. It was a matter of setting my intention. “Just don’t ask so much about the how,” she said.
They were all angels, and the angels have more power than demons, but we have to program ourselves to look the right way. The angels are gentle, kind, and humble. And they don’t want you to die.
I drove through the desert, healed by the rocks and the earth. I rode on a horse at Ghost Ranch. I met beautiful person after beautiful person, and never felt alone. I had walked through the gates of hell and got out on the other side, and there was nothing but kindness and beauty.
That’s what heaven is like. And it’s not some end-of-life destination. It’s here, right now.
You can go there, too.
Categories: spirituality and faith