Here are my Top Twelve Posts of 2018, including topics like the benefit of grief, dealing with depression in marriage, misogyny in the Bible, people-pleasing, and my brush with suicide this year.
Anonymous asked a question:
I’m only a teenager, but I already feel like my life should just end. For my whole life I’ve felt like I am only a burden to those around me, and feel I don’t deserve to live. Honestly, I cant even get myself to pray because I feel I am undeserving of gods love and insight, and that he couldn’t love someone as foolish as me anyway.
Hey dear friend: I love you. We love you. Stay alive. You deserve life. God loves you. I have experienced God’s love, and while it’s hard to believe sometimes, He does love you. I promise that if He can love a guy like me, He can love anybody. I mean it. I seriously mean it.
Maybe this won’t be very comforting, but I love this study. Almost everyone who tried to jump realized later that their pain was bound within time, within a crisis, rather than a permanent pain. One of the people who survived jumping the bridge said, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”
I cannot promise that life gets better. Life can be cruel, unfair, intolerable. People can be downright mean. Failure and rejection will happen. Risks don’t always pay off. You will miss chances and opportunities. Injuries and disease are a real danger. Our brains are often broken by depression and other lifelong illnesses. People will leave.
But none of these things, none of these things, determine your worth as a person. Nothing that has happened to you gets the say on who you are. Of course, life hurts. We’re allowed to hurt. We’re allowed to be mad. We can vent and yell and shake a fist at God. All of that is being human. But all the ways in which life can be unfair do not have a single thing to say about you as a person. You are loved, regardless. You are loved simply because you were born. For me, that’s often enough for the next breath. Looking back, I’m glad I breathed again.
This is the Preface to my book How Hard It Really Is: A Short, Honest Book About Depression.
Depression is a rumor, until it is reality, and then it’s as if nothing else was ever real. Still, no one will believe you. I find it hard to believe it myself. I wrote this book for those who believe, and for those who want to.
Depression is, when you’re in it, absolutely ridiculous, because it seems to be the most important thing in the world when it’s happening. At the same time, it robs the world of any importance, as if nothing could ever happen again. It is a nightmare of infinity wrapped in cellophane.
Whenever I describe it happening, it sounds absurd. And it is.
At the grocery store I’m thinking about how to grill this salmon, and my chest folds inward, a curled up canvas of wax paper in a cruel, gnarled fist. It’s the familiar feeling of drowning, of disappearing in frothing acid. I fight back both tears and laughter, and I tell myself, Everything’s fine, everything’s fine, a cognitive trick to pull myself out of the falling, but nothing is fine, nothing is fine. There’s nothing I can do. My basket full of trinkets is weightless and a wrecking ball. I see people rushing to somewhere, but the illusion of significance slips away in a long, defeated sigh. I hate this part. My shoulders crumple because I’ve stopped holding them up. I can barely look at the cashier and I don’t remember paying when he hands me the receipt. I can’t turn on music in the car; it’s unbearable to turn the wheel. I’m someone else’s ghost in someone else’s body.
I wish I could say it gets easier each time, but I never know how long it’s going to be.
I never know when the colors will come back.
I never know if this will be the one that wins.
The bad news is that I don’t have a magic formula, a six-step cure, or a silver bullet. I wish I did. But I don’t believe there’s a right combination of words that will unlock depression.
The best thing we can offer each other is each other, our set of experiences, our voices, our ears, so that the tunnel is less intimidating and the light is not as distant as it was.
I wish I had more than this. I wish I could cover every angle. Maybe, though, I can cover a few.
At the very least, I can tell you what I’ve been through, and what’s worked for me. And maybe some of that will work for you, too.
— J.S. Park | How Hard It Really Is
Anonymous asked a question:
I find myself begging God for death almost every day. On the days I don’t, I’m numb & I’m just going through the day hating my life. It’s hard not to compare myself to the rest of my peers who are doing great things & I’m just here painfully existing. My 1st degree didn’t get me any jobs in my state, so I’m stuck working a job that doesn’t pay much to help me afford a secondary degree. I know I’m not the only person suffering from the effects of a rigged economy, but how am I to remain positive?
Hey dear friend, I’m very sorry for all that’s happening. I want to tell you that you’re not alone, and that I got a ton of love for you, and I’m certain that everyone here does, too. I’m praying for you right now, even as I write this.
I have to say this too: If you feel like you’re in danger of hurting yourself at all, please go talk with a trusted friend and talk these things out. Please consider getting with a qualified, certified person who can help. I hope and pray that you won’t make any big rash decisions during a downward spiral, and that you’d first talk it over with someone, face-to-face, even if that means forcing yourself to get there and giving your decision-making power to someone else, however long it takes. Just talking about it can be enough sometimes to take another step.
I want to share that I’ve wrestled with depression for as long as I can remember, and I did attempt suicide over ten years ago (half a bottle of pills, I lost 13 lbs. in three days, and was Baker Act’ed into an institution). I get into self-loathing loops of hopelessness all the time, like someone has just yanked my guts through my chest in one fell swoop and I’m crumpled over with completely cold apathy, not caring about a thing. Several years ago, I had a complete breakdown at my workplace from the work environment (in which the boss laughed it off), and a year later, I was fired from that very same job. Co-workers got way ahead of me, which was absolutely fine, but many of the people that I called “friends” deserted me. Life is unfair. It can be cruel. Things don’t always work out.
The reality is, our dreams get crushed, and people will leave or cheat or abuse us, and our perseverance doesn’t always pay off. Prayers can go unanswered for a lifetime. I sit with some hospital patients who don’t want to leave because their life outside is so desperately miserable. Even a perfectly crafted life can come crashing down in a second, when external forces suddenly strip us of all we have built. Most of us are not prepared for how harsh and brutal that life can be, because no one gives the hard talk about what it’s really like.
What do you do when you feel like you just don’t want to live? Like, you know if you trust in God and stand on His promises that things will get better, but that’s not the point…you just don’t have the desire to live anymore. How can that feeling change? I mean, it’s not like I don’t enjoy life sometimes, because I do, I’m just tired of it.
I completely understand you and I used to feel this way everyday. An old friend used to tell me, “I’m just living ’cause I can’t die.” As morbid as it is, this is how we felt for a long time, and most people just didn’t get it. They would reply, “Life is a gift” or “God is good” or “Live everyday like it’s your last,” but even knowing all that didn’t change anything.
I thought that because I felt this way, my life was worthless and there was no point to waking up and it would end without much significance in a vaporous whimper. I’ve tried to kill myself. I drank, a lot. I’ve never really told anyone, but I once went through a season of cutting. A few times, I gave away all my things because I was for sure I would go home and end it.
Finally, in a hospital bed with a stomach full of half a bottle of pills, that was rock bottom. The doctors were sure if I fell asleep, I wouldn’t wake up. It was too late to pump my stomach. They fed me liquid charcoal to neutralize the acid. I waited.
I fell asleep. You can feel death, you know. It’s like someone is unraveling a thread at the back of your skull, like sinking into yourself. It felt like my legs were dangling in water. But in that moment, hanging over the abyss, there it was. Not a neon sign or a grand eloquent vision, but a simple expression of something beyond this world. You’re not done yet. You have more. You have ME.
I woke up. I was later Baker Act’ed into a mental hospital for two days, then released back to the world. I had lost thirteen pounds in three days and had roomed with horribly tragic mental patients who had far worse problems than I. Back into the sunlight, I suddenly didn’t want to waste my life anymore. I couldn’t stand the thought of having died in that hospital bed.