The cursor blinking. A white screen. It’s the day after my 35th birthday. I have mixed emotions today. I just spent a whole week celebrating my birthday with different friends and with my family. This hasn’t been an easy year. Things were a struggle before the Corona Virus and when the virus did hit and quarantine started in March I slipped into an even deeper dive into depression and anxiety. Today was a day where we honored the life of William Tarozzi. Also known as Billy. Billy was a friend. Billy was such a loving and caring person. Billy served as a Marine. Billy suffered a traumatic brain injury and did his best to deal with it but I will always remember his commitment to Christ. He always prioritized his walk with Jesus and he made it that clear to everyone that was around him. I have had the privilege of getting to know Billy’s parents who really have been like a spiritual father and mother to me. They have given me such love and support especially in the hard time that I have had this past year.
Billy died by suicide and with suicide comes a long list of what if’s and questions. We all ask what if we could have done more. What if we could have reached out more. What if we could have been the last line of communication. It’s so hard to sit with these questions.
I relate deeply to the struggle because that is where I have been at multiple times in my life. I was having severe suicidal thoughts in May, June and July. It was daily. It was an all day battle. All I knew to do was to survive the storm and let it pass. Oftentimes deep depressive episodes or bouts with anxiety that cripple the mind and leave us living in despair, but they are also like bad storms that eventually come to an end. They are scary because we feel like we aren’t in control of what is happening to us but one truth always wins and that is our relationship with time. “The only constant in life is change”-Heraclitus
When you are stuck and you don’t think you will get out, know that it can’t stay this way forever. I had to cling to my own history. I have survived storms before. I have always snapped out of the hardest emotions I have ever felt. I had nearly 90 days( May to August of 2020) of thinking there was no way out. I had nearly 9 months of a storm before in 2012 and 2013. I had my whole life turned upside down again in August of 2019 with another episode of 2 weeks in the hospital and I left that time starting over again with medications and seeking for stability. This day is full of conflict. I mourn the loss of my friend and I ask a question that I don’t know if there is an answer for. I ask why. Why have I survived such deep suffering in my thoughts and in my brain. Why have I been the one to make it through and why have others lost their life to suicide. Why me? What’s so special about me?
Well, the only answer is that God has a purpose and a plan that stretches beyond anything I could ever think or imagine. Scripture is telling me that God only gives good gifts and He only has provision in mind for me. He doesn’t have a life for me that involves abandonment and rejection and sorrow and sadness. But I also see the heroes of our faith suffering for Jesus. I see Paul getting stoned and flogged. I see heads getting chopped off. I read Hebrews 11 and its a long list of heroes of the faith that have died horrible deaths. So, I don’t see things being devoid of pain in store for me. However, I also see healings taking place. I see Jesus touching people with just a few words. In just a few sentences people get healed. Is that healing power here and today or have I blocked it out? Have I just accepted my diagnosis so much that those miracles can’t happen in me?
I am always perplexed by reading about the abundant life when I am not sure I know if I have experienced abundance. It feels like in all honesty I have nothing but questions without answers. I believe the truth of the things I am talking about but I feel like I am living under a cloud. And that cloud follows me wherever I go.
To those that are suffering with depression and anxiety. To those afraid to tell a friend, or a pastor, or anyone; I am here, and I am suffering too. To those that are paralyzed you need friends. You need the story in Luke 5 when the paralyzed man is in desperate need of Jesus. He can’t walk. He can’t do anything. So, in his desperation nearby people in the crowd lifted him up over the roof of the house that Jesus was in. The friends near this man helped and lifted him closer to the feet of Jesus. Isn’t that amazing. It is possible that they weren’t even close friends. They were just people near this desperate person.
To those that have the same questions as me. Am I going to continue to live with this suffering and this pain. This mental anguish. This dark cloud that makes me feel numb on the inside. That when it comes to surrounding myself with people I rarely answer the phone, or say yes to going out. One thing is true. I have been surrounded by my own cloud of witnesses. I have been surrounded by friends that have lifted me up. That has texted me, that have never relented in making sure I don’t feel alone. My heart breaks when I hear people say they don’t really have friends. They don’t get hospital visitors, but I get 10 people all coming in on one night. I am not special as I said earlier. I struggle with wondering why I am so blessed to have people in my life but I don’t think I will get an answer. God just loves me too much and His love extends past my clouds of darkness and past the shadows I feel like I am walking in. His love motivates me to speak to teachers, and students and anyone who will hear my story. I have NAMI to thank for all the wonderful opportunities. I have Billy in my heart. I have Bill and Maria in my heart constantly and this is a day of worthy reflection.
To those of you that feel like you don’t have a friend. Pray and ask God to step in and give you people. Pray and ask God to give you a church where you can be free to love yourself and love those around you. I have Humanity Church to thank. I have my brothers in Christ at AbleSource to thank. My family. My mom, sister and brother-in-law Scott. I have my roommates Will, Megan, and one of my closest friends and brothers, Sam.
When people lose meaning and purpose they lose their humanity because we weren’t created to just exist. We were all created to feel alive and feel needed and accepted. Ultimately, we get our identity from Christ and He shows us the way. Life is hard. Life can be multiplied in its difficulty by mental illness. Life can seem unfair. Life can seem cruel. Life being hard is not how you process. Sometimes it feels like your mental diagnosis is its own suffering created just for you and no one else. All I know to be true is that you have ask for help. Ask for understanding. Cling to the words of Jesus. He said to ask, to seek, and to knock. He promised trouble in this world but said to take heart for He has overcome the world( John 16:33). How great is this God we love and serve. I am not dumbing down how I feel because like I said it’s a huge struggle and it has been going on for over a year now, but I have to keep going. I have to do more than just survive. I have to do more than just stay alive. I am not beating the clock. I am here for a reason and so are you. Remember those you have lost just like I am remembering and mourning today. It hurts my heart but I have to be loud and speak about my struggles and show people the way and walk in the bright light. Don’t give up. Don’t ever quit. You can do it. Living is a risk, but its a risk worth taking.