Good morning Baltimore.


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I take two white pills every night before I crawl into the sheets. They are a reminder to me, more than anything, that November happened.

November happened.

And so did December. January. February. A collection of months I wished, for so long, I could scrape off the calendar. I thought I knew darkness before those months. In a lot of ways, I didn’t know anything until those months came crashing on top of me. Sometimes you think you are fine until everything around you falls apart. And then you see the truth: everything was not fine. You were dying inside. You were clinging to other people to complete you. You were desperately in need of rewiring. 

I think there are times in our lives when we need an upgrade. Or a software update. And then there are times when we need all the little things inside of us to be rewired. I held it all together on the surface. I claimed I was fine. Really, I didn’t know how to turn my head upward to God and just be “enough” for my own self.

If you claim you love God and then don’t somehow commit to that most basic gesture, there’s probably a lot of wires inside of you that you’re resistant to let anyone touch. 

 

I went through depression once before.

Everyone told me afterwards to be thankful for it because a movement of love came out of it. I am thankful. But it doesn’t make me hate the dark any less. 

I didn’t know the statistics. The statistics say if you’ve struggled with depression once before then there is an 80% chance you’ll go there again. I kept telling myself it would never repeat itself. Bad things don’t repeat, I whispered.

I refused to see a counselor. I began to close myself off. I fell deeper into sadness as September danced. I ignored the warning signs. 

A girl at my speaking engagement last night asked me, “How can I make sure I don’t go through it again? The depression.”

“You can’t,” I told her. “But you can keep track of the warning signs.”

 

There were warning signs. Usually there always are. There was sitting on the floor of my office space– after consuming an ungodly amount of cups of chile– crying.

“I think everything will probably turn around in March,” I told one of my best friends. It was October. I thought if I could just push hard enough into a “new season” then God would follow suit.

She only looked at me. Nodded like she wasn’t convinced. “I don’t know if that’s true.” I hated her for being honest. Today I love her for only being honest.

There was Halloween night, surrounded by all of my best friends. I was wearing a T-shirt with the letters “LIFE” across my chest. A fitting role for Life, I passed out lemons that whole night– plucking them out from a plastic Jack-O-Lantern bucket and planting them into the hands of strangers at the party.

I remember being surrounded but feeling completely alone. I drove home crying that night (no surprise). I remember wishing I didn’t have to wake up in the morning. There was no reason for getting up.

There was sitting in my car on the morning of November 18th. My best friend didn’t leave my side. I slammed my hands against the steering wheel and screamed, “I don’t want this.” 

“You are not going to get out of this until you learn to be content.” She had told me this several times before.

I didn’t want to learn to be content. It seemed like such a distant and unattainable feeling– the feeling of contentment. 

“I am content,” I told her. “I have given God everything.”

“You are not content,” she snapped back. “There is so much you are not letting him have.”

All of these things– and then a dozen more– were warning signs. Warning signs that I was tumbling right back into the darkness.

 

My life broke into two on the afternoon of November 18th.

It’s a day on the calendar I will never forget. Nearly 9 months ago. People ask what I mean when I write “broke into two.”

Here’s the truth: some things in life don’t come with all the right words to describe them. All I can tell you is that I remember sitting with a friend in the conference room of our workspace. I asked her to pray for me because I was so sad lately. She prayed. I kept my head down and tried to convince myself that the prayers would actually work. At that time in my life I prayed to get attention and to make the Varsity team for heaven, not because I actually believed God was listening. 

I remember how she started talking about something after she said Amen. I was listening. And then pain. Sharp pain. All across my body. This sweeping feeling covering me from head to toe. All of a sudden, I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t move. My mind started racing.

“I feel so sick,” I told her. “I have to go home.”

Really, my mind was begging: What’s wrong? What’s going on? What’s happening? 

Sharp pain. Heavy fear. Tidal waves of anxiety crashing mercilessly into me. I didn’t understand. I thought I was going insane. Can life actually flip in a minute? 

The intern outside the workspace tried to bring me into a conversation about the time he went surfing with Rob Bell. I was trying to get in my car and leave.

“I’m sure Rob Bell is great,” I told him. “I’m sorry but I have to go home.”

I got into my car. Got home. Crawled into bed. Pleaded with God that whole night but the voices were stronger than I’d ever heard them before, “You’re no good. You’re a liar. You’re a fake. You are nothing.” 

I fell asleep shaking. Shaking with no answers.

That night was empty. I was afraid I was hearing God say the words he’d wanted to tell me all along, “Hey girl, I don’t choose you. I just don’t want you. I just don’t choose you.” 

 

The next morning I couldn’t get out of bed.

Not by my own strength. It took me a solid half-hour to just rise and put on pants and a heavy sweater and a bright red cap. I had a flight at 10am for Baltimore. A speaking engagement.

I sat in my coffee shop before heading to the airport. I tried to drink a London Fog but my hands were too shaky. I kept writing down questions: What is happening? What is going on? Why do I feel so paralyzed and sick?

It was 0 degrees in Baltimore. The most I ate there was two slices of hotel pizza. My hands trembled the whole time that I spoke. I remember telling myself I would never go back to that city again.

I hid inside of an empty terminal- my body sprawled across three seats as I lay curled in a ball crying and shaking. Not really caring if anyone could see me.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” I texted to my closest friends. The ones I knew would pray. I’d been dealing with the paralyzing fear for over 48 hours now. It hadn’t ceased, only grown.

I vomitted several times in that airport. Out of fear. Out of terror. That would be the start of months of no sleep and no faith that God was coming back for me.

Nine months ago, Baltimore became a place on the map I never wanted to return to. In the next few months, a list of places I never wanted to remember again would assemble itself.

 

The paralyzing fear was relentless for over four months. You wouldn’t know that if you scanned social media but life was utter darkness. I bring that point up only to say: we have to be extremely careful about assuming we know a person’s life based on what they post online. We have to be gracious– no matter what– because everyone is fighting a battle we cannot see. Sure, we like the idea of being real & raw on social media but honestly only a few will ever feel safe posting the real mess out there for the world to see. We rip into one another too easily for that. But be gracious, please. And maybe sometimes remind yourself:  it’s a lot of filters and pretty things but that’s not reality. Reality cannot be cropped and contrasted. 

In those four months, I slept. A lot. I didn’t watch movies. I didn’t go to group events. I wrote down every “small victory” on sheets of paper. We planned my move back to Connecticut. The mornings were the worst. It felt like heavy blankets of despair were being piled and piled on top of me. I’d get up at 4am because I could not sleep and I would sit wrapped in blankets holding a Bible that I struggled to believe in anymore.

I went from the most driven girl to the one who could barely perform three tasks in a day. Doctors gave me all these drugs with long names. The parts of me that lost friends to drug addiction was terribly afraid to swallow them. They just wanted to calm me down. Stop the tears. At night, there was sleeping pills. My favorite part of the day was going to sleep because– for the first two months– nothing stole life from me in my sleep.

I slept on an air mattress in one of my good friend’s apartments for a lot of those nights. In the morning I would crawl into his bed and he would hold my hand as I cried. It felt like I was trapped in a tiny room with no windows and no doors. I would cry out in agony because I could not escape the fog.

“I just want to fog to go,” I would murmur through the tears. “I just want the fog to go.”

He would squeeze my hand tighter and call me “baby girl.” 

I remember being curled in the corner of a doctor’s office in Atlanta. The man kept asking me questions. Do you think about hurting yourself? Do you have thoughts of hurting other people?

I wasn’t doing my makeup anymore. I wasn’t doing my hair. I’d lost 10 pounds. I was tired. I was wired.

“It seems you have severe depression,” he said to me. That wasn’t news. I didn’t need another doctor to diagnose me– I needed someone to grab my shoulders and yell loud, “You are coming out of the woods. Do you hear me, girl? You are going to come out of the woods.”

And then he stopped scribbling. He looked at me. I locked eyes with him. I didn’t want him to turn away.

“Are you a Christian?”

“Yes,” I whispered.

“That’s not a question I can ask,” he answered. “But my job aside, I want you to know– the devil is rejoicing right now and we will not let him have that.” 

That man– in his white coat– was one of the many beacons of light that convinced me I could keep going. I could keep fighting. I could be like Moses, in that moment where Moses had nothing left in him but he let the others hold up his arms.

That’s what friendship is at the end of the day– people who will hold up your arms.

 

I don’t have all the answers.

Not even a few. Honestly, I hate typing these words. I really do. Because I wanted to be passive for so long and believe in things like Karma and not ruffle feathers when it came to God. But as powerful of a source of light in this world that exists, there is also a powerful source of darkness. And if we don’t talk about the darkness, it starts to win.

The darkness can refine us but we cannot let it win. We must not let it win.

So let’s be real: I never planned to write this.

Let’s be more real: I am hesitating to publish it.

But I looked down at my plane ticket today and realized I was going back to Baltimore. A layover in Baltimore. And all I could think was, “I don’t want to go back to Baltimore. I don’t want this mess to take my body and my brain again.” 

And then, then I knew that I would write because no one benefits from silence. No one will talk about the darkness if we all try to act like it isn’t real, like it doesn’t matter.

 

It matters.

Mental illness matters. Warning signs matter. Not standing alone with your ghosts matters. You matter. And you are precious. 

I’m not saying that to be corny. I am saying it because I fought desperately hard for my life in the last few months. I fought really, really hard against mental illness to be able to be standing today. I wanted to give up. I suddenly understood why people even think of taking their own lives.

I’ve walked the line in the last few months of wanting all my memories of the darkness to leave me and knowing that I will never be able to shake the sleepless nights– the dozens of stories I haven’t shared yet– because they made me. The darkness made me. It burned me up and shook me good and I fought until I could finally breathe and say, “No.” No, the darkness cannot have me. There is far too much left for my little life. 

Life is such a precious gift but when a fog covers your view of reality it’s so hard to rest your body in the gift. It’s easy to be ashamed of the fog, the sickness, the illness. But what if we broke the shame with words? What if we dismantled the stigma by figuring out how to hold up the arms of others?

So here’s a baby step: Please talk about the fog. Please talk about the emptiness. Please don’t let yourself stand in the mess alone, so much so that you cave inward and you hoist up a white flag without anyone ever knowing you were dying inside.

Please speak. Please speak.

Don’t be afraid to go back to Baltimore.

Just don’t be afraid of Baltimore.

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119 thoughts on “Good morning Baltimore.

  1. Hannah,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I hate that you had to go through this, but I’m thankful that I’m not alone in battling depression. Your words have helped pull me out of a slump more times than I can count and I just wanted to let you know that I am cheering for you and praying for you and generally really stinkin’ proud of you. There’s always a way out of the woods.

    Jen

  2. Hannah, you speak the words that are buried deep inside of me. I lived in Africa last fall, I started a blog there to share with my family, now Im home in California, and I write about my 1am thoughts. Last night I wrote about depression. Ive never spoken about it before, and it felt like i was taking off a layer of clothes in a cold day. Thank you for sharing this. You say the things I still cant say, or write about. You are so lovely.

  3. Darling, I love you all the more for writing this! Thank you so so much. One of my dearest friends from college has seasonal depression. I met her two years ago, and that spring she had an almost-suicide attempt. I had never experienced anyone close to me going through anything like this. It was terrifying, and all I could do was pray. Thank you thank you thank you for your words. Praying that they bring the darkness into the light. I am so confident He will use this many times over. Much love!

    1. I think some of us go through it, and others of us go through it as a strong hand beside someone who needs us most. Thanks for being there when she needed you most.

  4. Hannah,

    Thank you for speaking. Your words are beautiful and they matter. SO HARD. They matter so hard. (I feel like you would say that to someone.)

    I live in Baltimore. It is a beautiful place (despite what the media says) and I can promise you that you would like it a lot. I don’t make promises lightly.

    I know 2 coffee shops in my neighborhood that I would take you to, both so perfect and charming that you would want to come back every chance you got for a quick layover, just so you could pop in for a warm & cozy cup of coffee. Please don’t be afraid to go back to Baltimore. And let me know next time you do. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee at both coffee houses.

    💗 + xo (+ ☕️), lc

    Sent from my iPhone

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  5. Your speaking out is so important and I commend you for it. We have to realize how many people suffer from mental disorders (including myself) and take the stigma away from it. Thank you for being so honest and for letting us know we aren’t alone. Much love and many prayers to you. xoxo

  6. Hannah,

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. I know it must have taken a lot for you to come out and say these words. I have never related to something more in my life. I’ve had two breakdowns in the past three years, where I just got really low and couldn’t possibly see a way out other than death. If you’re lucky you see the warning signs…sometimes you try to reach out to people, but when you don’t really know what’s wrong they can’t always help you in the way you need them to. It can be very frustrating.

    Those voices of self-doubt are SO loud, it’s extremely difficult to tune them out personally. What the doctor in Atlanta said to you really resonated with me. These types of feelings eat away at you, and really are evil. When we give into them, they win. They don’t deserve to win, and we shouldn’t let them. There will always be reminders that give me anxiety, reminders of when I felt like a failure. Writing down small victories is a great idea, and I will be sure to remember that next time when I feel down again.

    There is still so much stigma around mental illness, and I almost always feel blocked in by my feelings. God forbid I express my thoughts about anxiety and depression outside of my therapist’s office; my friends look at me with those sympathetic eyes, but I know they don’t understand. They were still there for me though, and I am lucky they stood by me through the darkness even though they didn’t really know the panic happening in my head. It’s also easy to say “my problems aren’t real, so they don’t deserve to be addressed.” As if emotional suffering isn’t a legitimate excuse to cry out for help. That’s what holds me back sometimes. I’m still struggling with the fact that now and then it’s okay to reach out for help, and sometimes it’s the best thing you can do. Even if the person doesn’t fully understand what you’re going through, it’s enough to know that someone actually sees you, that you exist and that you matter.

    I’m so happy you shared this very personal part of your life. You are truly a beautiful, talented writer. Mental illness will most likely always be an uncomfortable topic, but I really hope one day it will be possible to overcome that and just focus on supporting each other, or “hold up each other’s arms.” Fear can be deadly, but you are a great example of not letting fear overcome you, and I really respect you for that.

    Thank you again.

    Sincerely, Jacqueline

    >

  7. Hannah, thank you for sharing. I just took my two white pills an hour ago. I’ve have been going through a bad anxiety spell for the past 6 weeks and am finally feeling better. Thank you for speaking about mental illness as a Christian. I hope you have tons of friends around you that remind you this is an illness and not a lack of faith or an attack. Some people are just wired this way, but our God is always big enough to redeem it in ways we never thought possible.

  8. Dear Hannah, Powerful story, thank you for sharing.  You’re a gifted writer, I have followed your blog for years, watched your TedTalk and purchased your book for my daughter.  Please keep writing, your words matter, Respectfully yours,  Jane Horan

  9. Hannah,
    That you for the real ness of your words! You always speak so fluidly to me. No matter what. I admire you. I too have struggled with depression! Then a friend who knew not a thing about my struggles said, “you know wheat is a neurotoxin.” And I googled it immediately! What the heck is a neurotoxin? Could it be that what I put into my mouth affects my brain. And friend, I will call you that cause you speak to my heart!, I have never regretted the day I researched that! Gluten has become a plague to me, as I slowly began to heal four years ago. Just last week I accidentally drank a small amount of mikes hard lemonade (mistake it’s has gluten). I came home and cried and cried in extreme sadness. A friend who knows my gluten struggles affirmed that this was not me… but how a substance affects my brain. I tell you this just in case it can make a difference from my writers heart to yours. Just in case your fog can be lifted. And just because I really care. I will pray for you. And friend, God hears!

  10. Hey friend,

    You’re a brave girl, Miss Hannah Brencher. And I agree…we need to be full of grace. And kind. And careful. And we need to risk looking stupid in our reaching out instead of staying quiet.

    So…I just wanted to send you a hug. A hug for publishing. For exposing the darkness to the light. For going to Baltimore when you didn’t want to. For going back again when you were afraid to. For getting up when you didn’t think you could. For making a way in the night for other people. I know this post is going to resonate deeply for the silently suffering souls who need to be reached. God Bless you for that. I think God’s going to do miracles through you.

    I’m new to your audience. And I’ve wanted to write before…the last email you sent made me want to tell you my story. And maybe I will someday. But for now…I’ll join the tribe that holds up your arms.

    Keep on fighting Hannah. The evil must not win. And I will fight with you as I overcome my own darkness. Mine is different than yours…but like you said, we all are fighting a battle. Right now, mine is loss. I lost my Best Dad to Cancer 7 months ago. He was the special one. The one who “got” me. How come the creepy ones stay and the good ones go? I mean, really?? But it was all so sudden. We had 1 week between diagnosis and death. That was it. But. But we did have that week. And oh what a sweet, horrible, beautiful week it was. And before that, he and I had Ireland and Italy before we knew. God’s funny how he provides before we even knew He was providing. And the story I’ll tell you another time happened when I was in Ireland. There was a day when God spoke so loud and it changed me forever.

    Hang in there, pretty girl!!! Sending you lots of love from a girl in Northern California who really wants to see you continue to shine and BE. Just keep being you. All of it. Turn your broken into beautiful.

    xo,

    treacy mize

  11. Tears come pouring down my face as I read this because I can relate to the pain in so many ways. I found this blog one night when depression was winning. It was stealing my sleep and sanity, yet the words you speak Hannah are so comforting and remind me and others they are not alone. Mental illness is something that needs to be spoken about and needs a reaction of an extended hand. Thank you for being vulnerable and speaking up.

  12. I love that you push. You push with words, you push with love, you don’t stop pushing and you push me. Celebrating each step.
    xoxo

  13. I have been living in the fog and shadows for so long now that I don’t remember the way back to “normal”. And trying to define a new normal is really hard for me. I had to leave work for 2 months last year because crying at work is frowned upon….and I don’t want to go back there again. But the fog hovers around me all the time.

  14. Goodmorning Hannah,

    “morning” because that’s what it is for me. I literally just woke up. At 11 ‘o clock. Because I went to sleep last night at such an ungodly hour. Because I still don’t want to reset the days. And frankly, I still don’t see what’s so good at mornings really. But anyways..

    Before I continue, I want you to level with me. Because I feel like I know you so well, but you hardly know me. Heck, I don’t even know if you still remember or not, but I wrote to you several times before. I have no idea why. I have no clue at all as to why I’m doing this. I wish I knew. It’s just some part of me that really wants to talk to you. And boy, do you seem like you could need it. I’m an illustrator, now 28 since March the 13th (it was a friday this year, the cycle was complete once more, now I’ll have to wait another 7 years for it to be there once more^^ ), and last time I wrote you was on November 4. So that was merely 13 days that you wrote me back before you broke down?

    Part of me just wants to get on an airplane, travel to this unknown land you live in, come find you and just hug you. It’s my primal reaction to everyone who feels this way. Just tell ‘m it’ll be over one day. That you’ll feel happy at some point in your life, after you’ve struggled yourself out of this mess. It’s the same part of me who desperately wishes for someone else to do the same to me, though no one has said those holy words to me yet. Well, not in real life. The closest I’ve gotten .. well, heh, that was actually you. You wrote back. And you told me to overcome, you told me to go on day by day, one at the time. Even breath by breath. And that’s what I’m doing now. I kept your mail. Read it. So. Many. Times. It’s my own personal bible if you will. Whenever my leaky memory allows me to remember that it’s there, I read the words. And that’s why I’m here, first thing in the morning, got up, got dressed, opened up my computer, writing to you.

    I’m still in the same mess as I was so many months ago. But I’m still here. Alive. Breathing. But I’d ly if I’d say it would be exactly the same. Something’s changed you see. I have a new distraction. “Distraction” I call it, because that’s how it feels. Other people would call it a comic. I call it for it’s real name to me. A distraction. I’ve started drawing, digitally painting, working for hours on end on this comic. Page after page after page. First the scenario’s, the worldbuilding, the characters, props, animals and so forth. Now I’m at the drawing part. But still it feels like I’m faking it. Like I’ll wake up and realise that’s it’s just a coloring book for adults. Because the little voice in my head is telling me exactly just that. Most people can’t draw, so they buy a coloring book for adults. It’s some form of therapy they say. I just draw. And draw and draw and draw. Sigh.. whilst all I just want is that one hug.

    So to summon up what in this already 4th paragraph, I was so shocked to read your email/post this morning. I HAD to write back. If you had this impact on me with just a few sentences, I might be able to do the very same for you. Once again, I have no clue if you’ll ever read this, but if you do, please know this. If I could find a way to come hug you, I wouldn’t resist. I would just do it on a whim. No matter the costs. I’d tell you that at some point you’ll manage. I’d tell you that one day you’ll cope. You are Hannah Brencher. You talk to people at a speaking engagement whilst you’re feeling so nuts. I’m just sitting here at home, I haven’t talked to someone my age in months now. I know I’m not supposed to compare, since we’re all in this together, but seriously, who am I to talk in comparison to you? You run your own website, and send out emails on a weekly basis, I can’t even maintain a blog. Hunny, you got this. You’ll be fine. Trust a stranger on the other side of the world.

    You’ll get there. I don’t wanna say goodbye, cause I know we’ll talk again.

    Hug, Me.

    Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2015 03:23:02 +0000 To: thierrydewolf@hotmail.com

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this — You are inviting people to come out of hiding by shedding light on the darkness that’s tried to win. It’s a gift that you shared and I (and others too, I’m positive!) don’t take that lightly.

    I’m writing back to you because I’ve struggled this year, too — the kind of struggled where all you can do is sit under the heaviness with your best friend saying “This isn’t going to be your story. Your life is beautiful.” The kind of struggled where a million things trigger the internal tsunami, but they’re all the same lies.

    I WANTED to pass on what I’ve discovered, and what’s been helping me. I’m sure you get a million of these emails and I’m not trying to be the random stranger telling you what to do, but I have so much hope it this stuff that I had to pass it on.. 2 things — I went out to eat with a distant friend not too long ago and OUT OF THE BLUE she says “oh yeah, I learned the hard way that gluten pulls me into depression – I can’t get my head above water or think straight or anything.” I felt like it was the Lord speaking directly to me.. GLUTEN. What? So I gave it up a few weeks ago and I can honestly say that although things have come up against me, they leave a whole lot faster too..

    The other thing.. Maximized Living. I have these amazing chiropractor friends in the area that run a wholistic health chiro office in Winston Salem, NC — they believe that God created your body to heal and focus on getting your spine realigned (because a LOT can damage that guy) AND if you have pressure on different parts of your spine, IT CAN CAUSE DEPRESSION. What? So I’ve started getting adjusted.. The great news is that they have these offices all over the US.. I searched Atlanta for you and they have several http://maximizedliving.com/get-started/find-a-doctor/?gmw_post=doctor&tax_clinic_type=0&gmw_address%5B%5D=Atlanta%2C+GA&gmw_distance=100&gmw_units=imperial&gmw_form=1&gmw_per_page=25&gmw_lat=&gmw_lng=&gmw_px=pt&action=gmw_post

    Oh! And I said 2 things but I meant three — The other week I was having an absolute freak out “can’t get out of the heaviness” weekend, and I was driving down to see some friends at their lake house. I begged the Lord to help me.. I heard him say, so clearly “Han, the enemy is lying to you right now.. This is what I need you to do, okay? I need you to bind the words that he’s speaking to you. Speak the lies outloud and bind them up — then ask for my truth and my peace and all of the things you’ve been desperate for..” Not like a bossy dictator but like a good, caring , Father — he helped me partner with him and take some things back that day. The voices stopped. I could hear in my head for the first time in a long time.

    ANYWAY — ALL of this being said to say that I AM NOT TRYING TO BE over informative know it all email girl. That is the last thing that I want to do. And thank God for your story and for your willingness to share and goodness girl, I’m praying for you too. I sent all of this to you because hearing your story made me feel mine, too — AND if any of what has been working for me might work for you too, it’s worth sending. (Also, because there’s hope of it going away for good, not just learning to live and cope and hold on)

    So thankful for your writing and your heart, Signed, Another Hannah

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. Girl- this was the best comment I’ve gotten in a long time. I actually just started paleo and I am hoping it will make me feel even better. Thank you for this.

      The lies are strong. Don’t let them win.

      hb.

  16. Dearest Babycakes,

    I want to thank you for reaching out to your readers from all over the world. Just as Jamie Tworkowski has said “people need other people.” Your smile, your laugh, your words and your presence in this world are priceless. Hannah, you give so many people a reason to smile. I hope that you find the strength to be your own best friend because she needs love too right now. Hannah Brencher – you are one of my favourite human beings in this whole entire world. Please… stay, stay, stay.

    With lots of love and hugs,
    Jared

  17. Wow, what just happened?! Just when I think you can’t speak my inner life any more than you already have, you one-up yourself. Lay yourself bare and somehow expose all of me with it, too.

    Just a couple days ago I drafted a post for next week on my recent struggle with anxiety. I can’t not post it now. Your light to the dark places doesn’t just mean being Christian in a secular world; it’s exposing the hidden places of a person’s heart that people just don’t want to talk about. And I’m with you on this now. Let’s brush aside the shame of “a real Christian wouldn’t have to battle these inner demons; they’d be strong enough and find peace in Jesus” crap!!! Crap crap crap!!! Such a lie the devil is throwing at us, and like your dr. said, we won’t have that! In the fight with you 🙂

  18. (Tears) As one who has faced my own kind of darkness… As well as having dear people in my life who battle mental illness, thank you for the gift of vulnerability.

  19. Hannah,

    Woke up and did what I try not to do before I breathe, get my coffee, and talk to my Maker. I checked Instagram, Facebook and my e-mail. Saw a new post from you. Read it in my bed – the screen an inch from my face because I didn’t have my glasses on. 6 hours before that moment, I was talking to my best friend. We had just fought and I was crying telling her that it was because of my anxiety. Because I was fucked up (#sorrynotsorry…that is what I said) and I was messing up everything. I was crying. Mind was racing. Acutely aware that I need to “get it together.” That at any moment, she’ll have enough and leave. That fear cuts deep.

    I think I know the hardest part. It’s the “no reason” part. She whispers “Why are you crying?” and that makes it worse. Because I don’t know why. I could give you no reasons or I could give you a million. I can’t give you just one. Sometimes I can. But not the past 2 months. Guess what? That fog you talked about? It is in D.C. too. It’s in my room at the beginning and end to my day. It’s in the conference room at my work when I’m sitting in a meeting and my eyes start watering. It’s in the metro when I feel claustrophobic and alone in the same moment. It’s at a Happy Hour with a sweet friend who sees life as simple and I sit there feeling so different…so “other”…because simple is not even in my vocabulary when it comes to life.

    I don’t have a great conclusion to this e-mail. I don’t have a clever story / anecdote / last word. But what I will say is this: Thanks for talking about the weather. Fog now but not forever.

    Ellen

  20. Hannah, thank you thank you thank you for this. For someone who walks a tightrope of warning signs, never knowing if a gentle breeze will blow me off course, I really needed this today. Bless you and your journey and I thank you so much for speaking out and sharing your truth once again.

  21. Hannah,

    Thank you. I know what it is to hit Publish on a post that requires turning yourself inside out and letting other people see what we’re always taught to hide from others.

    Thank you for being real and for loving the world enough to spread the light. God has bigger things for you than you can even imagine.

  22. I went through this myself from last October until February. I’ve never felt anything like it before. I have 4 children and I actually thought, constantly, about how they were better off without me. And I really, really, really believed this. I could hardly hold them because I felt like I was poison to them. I tried to tell several friends how horribly sad I was, how I had a cloud of dread pressing down on me so hard I couldn’t breathe. I think only my husband understood. One friend even used the opportunity to tell me how I had hurt her feelings recently with a thoughtless comment (in response to me telling her how self-centered I had become).

    I still feel flashes of it, the dread, the paralyzing fear, the feeling of being a total fraud. But it’s not delbilitating right now. But now that I’ve been there, I uunderstand! Oh, how I understand! I am a pastor’s wife and on my kids’ school board and I teach Latin at a local university and I have a plethora of good, real friends. I am beginning to wonder if this new thing will redefine me and I’m terrified.

    You have written well what I felt and am sometimes feeling. I don’t relate much to many articles on depression. But this one I do. So thank-you for writing it. The hope is the key. But I felt Satan doing his damned best to drown my hope during that time. It is wonderful you found a doctor who keyed into that.

  23. Beautifully written! It’s so important to talk about how we feel. It really does help. Once I opened up about my depression and how it made me feel through a vlog series, I felt a little better. Thank you 🙂

  24. Hb. Holy…No words for this! Kinda wish I didn’t have a eerily similar experience from October to about April….but I felt God tug at me to share this:

    “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” James 4:7-10 MSG

    When I saw that this morning I knew it would be something I’d go back to when the warning signs show again…it just fits.

  25. This was so amazing to read. I went through an awful period of depression myself back in 2011, and everything you wrote relates to how I felt. I must say though. The fact that you WENT to the speaking engagement despite how you were feeling was so brave and courageous. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to even get out of bed, let alone pack my things and fly to another state. I know how difficult that must have been for you. I also know how difficult it must have been to write this. Thank you for doing so. Y

  26. Reblogged this on Gingersnap Theater and commented:
    The fog, the not-enough-ness, the shame, the sleep, the digging, the guilt, the piling, the scratching, the blood poisoning-type illness, the emails, the interventions, the cancer-book obsession, the love of hospitals, depression, anxiety, social anxiety, late nights, tears, anxiety attacks, sensory processing disorder, autism youtube videos, soft screamo, the empty and the too full.

      1. It was hard. I want to be like you someday: to write like you, to speak like you, and to be able to effect change on such a widespread scale. Thanks for what you’re doing:) You’ve brightened up my life, and part of what helped me through depression was your blog. Love, Hannah Kay

  27. Dear Hannah.
    Thank you for sharing your fog, your darkness and your journey back to the light. I too have Depression, I have gone public about in social media because I want to be one of the people who helps end the stigma. I want to be one of the people giving voice to mental health. In the last 2 weeks, 6 people in suicidal states reached out because of my real and raw posts. It is only when we are real and raw, authentic about all we are, that we truly help each other. Thank you for taking the risk to be real and raw. I send you love and hugs. May the light more often win out over the darkness. May we also accept our own darkness, it is part of us, everyone of us has a shadow and that is OK. And yes, everyone is fighting a battle behind the glitter and glimmer of their posts. Love you. Kristin

  28. Wow. Your post made me cry, yet again. The things you write are just so strikingly authentic and beautiful. You are so brave for sharing yourself this way. I hope you know what an amazing person you are. Thank you for the gift you give to the world through your writing.

  29. Thank you for baring your soul. Thank you even more for not allowing Satan to consume it. So many Christians only like to talk about singing and streets of gold, but there is an alternate place of torment and pain that we don’t like to discuss. Pretending there isn’t an evil force, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Thank you for acknowledging that evil can prey on even the strongest believers. I am so glad you are out of your dark fog. It creeps back in to my life occasionally also… Praying for you to stay in HIS light!

  30. Thank you Hannah. I’ve been feeling down for months now. I’m always fine on th outside but I feel like I’m being consumed from the inside. I promise that I will talk about the fog with my loved ones. Thank you! I love you HB!

  31. Sweet Hannah, Thank you for your words, always, but especially these. Thank you for asking me to not be afraid. I have a private blog, and I write about depression in it. One day I’ll click the publish button, but for now I’ll share with you this post titled ‘Becoming Who I Am’.

    Closely with understanding and empathy, Noelle

  32. Thank you Hannah,
    Its so good to see someone be real and open up so much. It have also been feeling down and to know there are so many people out there that are going through it too. Lets me know there is a bright side to it.

  33. As I continued to read, I almost felt my heart come out of my chest. I know these feelings, unfortunately, so incredibly well. I could honestly tell you that I have felt EVERY single emotion and pain that you wrote about. As much as I never wish anyone to go through that, it is nice to know that others do feel the same. Depression is ugly. It’s hard. And agonizing. But thank you for being open enough to write this. It is – beautiful piece of writing. You are not alone. And you are strong. It is amazing what words can do to help heal, huh? Keep on rockin’, girl.

  34. Sending you lots of love and light, thank you for sharing these intense moments! We have all passed this way or will sometime in life! You are a very special young woman! I so enjoy your blogs, keep up the faith !

  35. Hannah,

    Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, but here I am, quickly typing a “thank you” email during a break at work, anyways.

    Thank you for publicly being so damn honest. Thank you for writing this post. Thank you for piercing my heart and troubled mind with your words.

    I think I’ve been in Baltimore for over a year now. Sometimes, I close my eyes & ears in an attempt to convince myself otherwise. But, it’s always there when I open them again. It’s always there. Loud and terrifying and littered with the lies that have plagued my mind since May 10th of last year. “He loves all with an everlasting love. All, except you.” “Don’t think for a second that He delights in the pursuit of your screwed up heart.” “You deserve it all–the pain, the heartbreak, the let downs, the disappointments, the people that leave. You had it all coming.” “You are a disappointment and a failure.” “You don’t deserve to call Him Abba.” I could keep going, but I won’t. You get it.

    I’m not writing all of this so that you can try to carry my burdens with me or feel sorry for my inability to get out of this. I just wanted to say thank you for showing me that, even if I hate it, Baltimore is not just “population: me.”

    And, I guess that’s all I have to say. Thanks, again. From the bottom of my sad heart, thank you.

    -Madison

    >

  36. Thank you so much for sharing your struggle. I recently found myself in the emergency room after two days of no sleep, racked with pain in full meltdown. I appreciate the courage you had for so eloquently sharing your struggle.

  37. Hi Hannah. I want to thank you for your writing. It is so heartfelt and emotional. It has inspired me to start my own blog and share my story. I wish you all the very best success!

    lifeafterfog.com

    ~Kristie

  38. Thank you, Hannah. It’s 2 am. An hour ago I started reading your blog post, but I couldn’t finish it because my husband and I turned the lights out for bed. And immediately after he fell asleep I knew I had to grab my phone and finish reading your post. I was feeling exactly as you described. Just a few moments ago I was hiding my tears from my husband. I was hugging myself hoping the pain would go away. And even though I’ve been through it before, anxiety redefines itself every time. I just wanted to say thank you for being my silver thread of hope tonight. For the constant reminder that I am not alone, and that evil doesn’t stand a chance. And I wanted to let you know that because of the words you’ve so gracefully written, that I will wake up tomorrow and be strong. I won’t crawl back into bed. Keep writing and sharing. You inspire me. God bless.
    -Adriana

  39. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I don’t know that I even have the words to say how much I appreciate this. I have loved your writing for some time and then I saw this post. And I needed to see it. Because I have gone through it, and am going through it on a lesser level. Thank you for being so raw honest and vulnerable. I hope someday I have the guts to be as honest as you. I am praying for you.

  40. thank you for writing [and publishing] what I have been all too afraid to say. i’ve come to know the confusion and the fog all too well. it’s so hard to feel worthy of others people when you don’t want to be a burden with your own mess.

  41. this. everything about this.

    i could write a lot of things i am just starting to learn and wrestle with about the deadliness of silence.
    how it shames, degrades, invalidates, and never goes away until we face the what we are afraid to say. but i just want to applaud you and the bravery and courage it took to break the silence.

    this world would know the love God wants us to live a lot more if we gave everyone the room in to share their beautiful story without fear.

    thank you for being you and reminding everyone their story matters.

  42. Hannah,
    I am reading this at night in my bed in a psychiatric hospital and I just wanted to say that your words, your vulnerability left me ugly crying, but with a spark of hope. Thank you for sharing. the fog.. I can so relate to that. For the last year it has been like that, foggy. And now I am here, at that moment where the fog is the thickest. So thank you for writing “from the other side”. I hope to be there soon.
    L.

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