It was four in the morning when the voice in my head said: “Stop,” and I said: “Why?” and it said: “Look up.” I was curled on the floor while tears streamed down my face. As I shifted back and forth, I looked for something sharp. I knew the knives were in the kitchen, but it was too far, and while motivated, I was too embarrassed and somewhat lazy to walk outside. Most people would describe me as a happy child. I had loving parents. I had a few close friends. Other than the occasional parental conflict, my home life was stable. I liked music, computer games, and eating, but those no longer seemed to interest me anymore. At the age of eleven, when most kids played in the sun, I concluded that life was meaningless and not worth living.
I had severe eczema as a child. I had to apply loads of emollients or sometimes steroids before I exposed my bloodied arms and legs. I remember going to the front office for special tofu ice cream bars whenever there was a class party in elementary school. Sometime when I was about ten years old, the eczema disappeared which my doctors and my parents exclaimed was a miracle. Every time I saw my grandpa, he would roll up my sleeves, look at my arms, and say: “By golly, it’s as smooth as a baby’s skin.” I miss him.
I looked up and saw a hardcover book with sharp edges. I grabbed it and thought: “This could work.” I glanced at the title: The Purpose Driven Life. I stopped and the still small Voice said: “It’s okay – I’m here – I got you.” I prayed in a way I had never prayed before and felt a wave of peace overwhelm me. “Be still and know that I am God,” the Voice said. “I will fight for you; you need only to be still.” “I have amazing plans for you, and they are plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Psalm 46:10; Exodus 14:14; Jeremiah 29:11).
As I opened scripture, I found purpose and meaning in Christ, but I would not say I was miraculously cured. I still have good days and bad days like everyone else, I guess. But now I find support from God, my parents, and an army of friends, counselors, and psychiatrists.
When I am feeling down or discouraged, or when you are feeling down or discouraged, know that you are not alone. Life is tough, and running out of serotonin, while cortisol runs rampant, is a part of life. You just have to learn healthy ways to cope, whether that be through faith, running, sing- ing, dancing, laughing, or simply living life to the fullest. Your story and your coping strategies will be different from mine, but all our stories make up the beautiful tapestry of the human experience. One disclaimer though, like the side effects at the end of a medication commercial, is that it takes a lot of time and patience. I worked with teens admitted on a 5150 who had to work through their past abuse and neglect. Sometimes they forgot to take their antidepressant meds or simply did not feel like going to group therapy. Yet, I challenged them, and I challenge you to not give up. Find a goal for today and tune in to that still small Voice.