taking a breath.

October is over. Family visited. I traveled east and west. Planned a trip to New Orleans over Christmas. I applied to probably 100 jobs. I revised a good chunk of my dissertation. I scheduled my defense date for January. Thought/fretted a good bit about what next year might bring.

And, then I woke up today, on November 1, and I felt like I took a big breath — one that I had been holding most of the month.

I like busy times. I thrive on busy times. But I always get nervous when they’re over. No one can run 90mph all the time. We need times of rest. But those times can be so, so scary. I find that my depression tends to take shape in a different way during said times. I become more morose and alternate between feeling absolutely emotional and absolutely indifferent. Everything is too much and not enough all at once.

Today, November 1, as I am writing this, is the 24th anniversary of my dad’s death. He did when he was 33, and each year that I get closer to that age, I began to feel a renewed sense of panic. I don’t know why exactly, but I think it’s because I don’t want to become older than him. It just doesn’t feel natural. All of that to say, today I have been stuck in a complicated mix of looking backwards, feeling stuck in place, and gazing ahead.

After my dad died, we buried a time capsule underneath this tree at our then-current home in Hillsboro, Virginia. My brother is in yellow; I’m in pink, and my mom is comforting me.

When I went home last summer, I sorted through a bunch of my (birth) parents’ things: old cards, photographs, mementos. What amazed me the most is that the notes they exchanged during his last year of life were so full of hope — and not in a delusional way, but truly in a “live everyday to the fullest, believing and trusting in God’s will” kind of way. And I admit that it all sounds cheesy and lame…until you actually see someone living that way. Living with this confidence that life will be as God intends it, trusting in his absolute sovereignty.

And I like to think that all that has happened this year and me sorting through my parents’ things is a little sign from above to have faith — not in the future necessarily, but in the God who already has it all planned out.

A few weeks ago, our pastor shared these words, and I have been meditating on them ever since: “The measure to which we believe determines our present state.”

If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.

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