My dear friends, I have not forgotten about you. You have been on my heart, but not because I feel like I need to unburden myself to you anymore. I have found a new normal, and life is so much better now than I could have ever imagined it being a year ago.
I partially started writing so much after my devastating break up and dysthemic depression diagnosis because it was therapeutic for me, and because other people’s writings about their struggles with depression helped me so much during my darkest days that I figured that I needed to give back. I wanted to use my deep pain for some good, and since I had been helped so much, I could not stay silent. I also wrote so much because God was incredibly close in those days, doing so much to lift me out of the depths, to put my feet on solid ground, and I am under His mandate to speak about what He does in my life. He did so much for me last year.
Now He has done it again, dear friends.
This season of my life has been incredibly busy. After everything that happened last year I was, quite frankly, broke. I was burning through my savings account to pay for all my medical bills that were not covered by insurance. I needed a new job. A full time job, which was something I had never had before. God wonderfully provided one through a gentleman at my church who owns a thriving company. I gave that job my all, working many more hours during the summer than was required of me and achieving recognition and rewards for it. Life was good, but unsustainable at that level of intense work.
Way back in February, I applied to direct a show at my area community theater. I love theater, and I have directed three shows with them before, but I took an eight year break due to some bad experiences with my last show. Enough time had passed, I was feeling like my depression was under control well enough, and the show was a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Sherlock Holmes has always been my favorite literary character. So I applied and immediately started feeling like “why? Why did I do that? I’m not going to have time to do that! Do I even want to direct a show? It’s been eight years! I’m not going to remember anything about directing!” But, way back in February, I didn’t have to worry about it much – auditions weren’t until the end of July.
The end of July came, as it will. Auditions came and I was woefully unprepared for them. I had maybe read through the show twice at that point, maybe three times. I received an email from the theater manager informing me of who my board liaison was going to be and I panicked. It was the same person I’d had the conflicts with eight years earlier. I emailed the theater manager back, informed her of what had occurred during my last show, and asked if there was someone else I could work with. She was very gracious and immediately found another board member willing to put in the time to be my liaison (someone to make sure the show is on track and to answer any questions relating to the theater building, and to generally help out). My new liaison came to both nights of auditions and that’s how I met Tim.
I went home both nights and freaked out about this show that was suddenly upon me that I still wasn’t sure I even wanted to direct and still wondering why I even applied to direct and he went home and looked me up on Facebook to figure out if I had a boyfriend.
Being oblivious to that, I soldiered on with trying to get as much overtime as I could while leading rehearsals three nights a week, set builds on Saturdays and spending all my remaining time with my family. In September I started experiencing visual migraines. Not fun. Very disconcerting. Very expensive. I went to my eye doctor but the tests didn’t reveal anything abnormal about my eyes. I went to my chiropractor, who is more like my general physician – he’s the one treating me for my depression and anxiety (oh yeah, did I tell you about my anxiety? It started July 5th, when our house flooded for the first time this year. It wasn’t that bad – really only affected one room in our basement, but it apparently was traumatic enough for me to get super anxious, and go on anti-anxiety medication. I’m still on it. Our house flooded again worse this fall. And I have a lot going on. But I’m feeling better). Anyway, he was like, yeah, stress can cause visual migraines – you’re trying to do too much. I quit working overtime at my job. I started sleeping more. I tried to eat better, but that’s always difficult to do when I’m directing a show. When I’m stressed I tend to sleep more and eat less. Directing is my diet plan – I always lose weight during a show. The visual migraines went away, thankfully. They’ve maybe been back once or twice since September, but never as bad as they were then.
The show opened in October and was a smashing success, if I do say so myself. There were stressful moments throughout the production. My cast were incredible – one of the actors was suffering with herniated disks in his back and for a time we were unsure if he would be able to continue – and he had the biggest part! My sister agreed to understudy for him, because we could not find another male actor who would be available for the show dates, should we need him. Turns out we didn’t – my actor endured the pain and was fantastic. Lots of prayer went into just that one aspect of it. And that wasn’t the only thing. A week before the show was going to open, my set was falling apart. It was multiple levels, and the ramps were faced with cardboard we painted black. We’ve had a very wet, humid year, and the cardboard curled so bad it was popping off the set. In desperation I went to a local sign business and asked if they had any black coroplast. They only had three sheets of it, but they gave it to me for free and it was just enough to replace all the horrible looking cardboard. We exceeded our expected ticket sales by 300 tickets and received glowing reviews. All in all, it was a wonderful success and I loved every stressful minute of it.
Then the show was over, and I went down. I was kind of expecting it, if I’m honest. I used to always get post-show depression, where something that had been so huge in my life and taken so much time was all of a sudden gone. It leaves a void. That same week I was informed that the aspect of my work that I loved the most, a computer program, was going to be taken away from me and given to someone else. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but there were just not enough resources to go around because of very rapid growth and this other person was better trained on that program than I was. I was crushed. My favorite part of my job is my coworkers, but this was right up there with them. Another deep void.
I didn’t go as far down as last year, but I was pretty low. There were many tears. The Friday of that week I poured out my feelings in a Facebook post and had a sleepover with my niece and nephew on our living room floor. My parents had gone to a show in a town about an hour away that night, and they came home late and woke me up talking about how good it was. Early the next morning they came and stood over me in the living room, saying that this was the best show they’d ever seen (yes, even better than my show!) and that I should go to it. They had looked up tickets and the best time to go was that afternoon at 2 pm. I didn’t want to go by myself and I didn’t know who I could ask, so I did something I’ve never done before: I issued a general invitation to all my Facebook friends, saying that I was going to this show, looking for someone to go with, I would drive, but not pay for their ticket.
I texted my sister and she was up for it, so I bought the tickets. Ten minutes later Tim, who I had not talked to since the show, texted me saying he’d be willing to go with me if I hadn’t found anybody else. I told him my sister was going, but he could come along with us. So we all went to the funniest and best show I’ve ever seen. My parents weren’t lying – it was better than my show. We had a grand time.
Tim asked me out for lunch the following Sunday. We met and talked for 4.5 hours. Somehow it worked out that we saw each other almost every day for the next week – sometimes unplanned, sometimes we talked about it beforehand. After the second week of occasionally running into each other as we were out and about and a few random dates, he asked me to be his girlfriend.
Guys, this was completely out of the blue. Nothing Tim had said or done during the show indicated that he was the slightest bit interested in me, and I was completely focused on surviving the show and work. Turns out, the guy he recruited to run lights for me was also his good friend and spy. They spent a month trying to figure out if I was seeing anyone. Tim spent three months quietly observing me and getting to know me in a more professional capacity and apparently he liked what he saw. I really enjoyed working with Tim. He was kind, generous, and went over and above to make sure the show was a success.
And this guy, I tell you, is something else. We’ve been together now for just a week, and it’s been incredible. It feels so new and wonderful, and also familiar and comfortable at the same time. He’s already met most of my family – he known some of them longer than he’s known me – and they think he’s great. My mentor has met him and she gave me the green light, and some very wise advice. My therapist and I talked about it all and she was so excited for me and gave me some great advice about managing my depression and my relationship. My chiropractor was so funny. I was telling him about my job (while that isn’t quite resolved yet, it’s on it’s way and I think it will be better than ever too) and I mentioned my boyfriend and he said “What?!? Forget about the job, this is more exciting! Tell me about him!”
All in all guys, I’m telling you all this because if you are where I was last year – depressed, despairing – hold on! IT GETS BETTER!!! If I had ended my life when I thought it was over last year I would have missed out on so many incredible blessings! I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I talked with my therapist about something I’d read about depression: that if the situation that causes the depression resolves, that depression can sometimes go away completely. She was very kind when she told me that when someone has had more than one major depressive episode, then that means the depression is probably not going to go away. I’ve had several major depressive episodes in my life, not just the one last year. So that means that even if my wildest dreams come true and life becomes everything I’ve ever hoped it would be, I will always be needing to manage my depression. It’s mine for keeps. But it is manageable. I went down one day this last week and I was terrified. I knew why I was down, but that didn’t assuage my fears that since my depression was a factor in my last relationship ending, that the same thing would happen in my new relationship. Good news, our four day old relationship survived my first down day! And he was great about it. Doesn’t mean that it won’t always be a factor in our lives, but I have hope that it will be a manageable factor in our lives.
So yes, the point of this whole long post is to tell you to hang on. Life is a crazy rollercoaster with more ups and downs and twists and turns than you can possibly imagine. But sometimes, the view from the top of the rollercoaster makes up for all the terrifying drops and low points and boring parts. Keep hanging on. That view is so, so good.