I sat in the church service, not knowing what was going on. From beginning to end, the tears were flowing, and I could not stop them (Lord knows I wanted to). At the end of the service, I went to have someone pray for me and I could barely articulate what my issues were. Thankfully, the person praying for me was someone I knew. She prayed for me and my husband as I sobbed all over her blazer. I could not help it; it would not stop. With my makeup completely destroyed, I walked back to my car and asked God, “What was that?” The few days after, I figured I could work through this as I have before. “You keep living life and plowing through.” But this was a different situation than what I have ever experienced before. I could not pull myself from whatever this was. I asked myself, “Girl what is wrong with you? You have a blessed life.” I had to truly go to God and have Him tell me what was going on with me. The answer – I was burned out.
I do not let many people in. I keep moving. I live in my head. I don’t ask for help a lot. I feel like I must be strong, or everything will fall apart. I know that many women can relate to these sentiments, which can be a recipe for disaster. At some point, this way of being catches up to all of us. We don’t even realize it is happening until we are sitting in the front row of a church service sobbing uncontrollably. Writing this post has made me think about the situation in it’s entirety. Weeks before my “episode” I remember being annoyed easily and grasping at anything to make me feel comfortable in my own skin. I was always thinking and I felt heavy yet empty at the same time. This way of being is exhausting to a person’s mind, body and soul. You cannot do your best living this way and the negativity that comes with it permeates through all the areas of your life.
Here are some things that I am learning right now:
- God must be the center of my life.
I knew this before, and I thought I was making Him the most important thing in my life. But if I am honest with myself, I allowed life to get in the way of our relationship. I spoke with Him everyday and He would speak to my spirit at times; but there were weeks that I did not give God my complete attention. It’s kind of like the relationship between my husband and me. There are days that we say hi to each other and talk for about five minutes while we are on our phones or doing something around the house. Then there are date nights when our focus is on each other—and not the needs of our jobs or social media. I need this with God to keep me sane.
- We were never meant to live life alone.
My pastor says this often and I always agreed, but I did not know what that truly meant until that day at church. I do not let many people in and as a result, it is very difficult making friends. When I say friends, I mean people who are like family—who I feel so comfortable with that I tell them almost everything. Truth be told, I do have people who I can talk to in my life, but I also have this thing where I don’t want to bother anyone with my issues. Everyone has their own problems. Why should I dump mine onto others? I am learning that we need people to “dump on” and that if we look hard enough, they are ready and willing to be there for us. Also, I have to make myself available to people. If I want friends, I can not be a hermit and spend all my time in my house with nothing but my own thoughts to keep my company. I must be willing to cultivate relationships with people. I am still learning this lesson.
- Have non-negotiable appointments with myself.
I am learning that certain things that I do throughout the day regenerate me: Spending time with God; working out (exercise); spending time outside; reading a good book; or allowing myself to write whatever comes to my mind. These are things that give back to me in some way. I must invest in these types of activities in order to have something to offer to the world.
Making these few changes has made me feel like I can now come up for air. Not only have I learned what not to do; I can recognize the signs of exhaust quicker than I have before. When I recognize it, I can do something about it; and I am better equipped to ask for what I need while I am on the road to restoration.
As I started delving into my situation and why it came to be, I couldn’t help but think about the people who feel this way and don’t feel like they have a way out. Suicide is running rampant. There are teenagers, moms, and even celebrities ending their lives. Once that decision is made and carried out, there is no coming back from that. If you are reading this and feeling like life would be better if it were over, please reconsider. If you feel alone, God loves you more than anyone else can and things can always get better.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255