Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Pit

Everything was black as pitch.  I couldn't see my hand even as it was touching my nose.  My eyes stung from trying.  The sulfurous air was cold and drafty; it seemed to circle about me in slow motion, a predator eyeing up its prey, each pass of it clawed at me and stole away my breath.  There was at once a gentle whistling and a vicious roar that filled my ears until they felt as if they would bleed from it.  Any time I moved there was a prolonged echo.  An echo of the damned.  The pit was big.  The pit was deep.  There was no telling what nightmares it held in its belly.  My heart started to race as my panic peaked.  Soon, my fingers, raw and oozy from trying to climb, confirmed my fear.  There was no way out.

Some people would describe being depressed as akin to the feeling of being buried alive.  A suffocating  torture.  It is not so for me.  For me, depression is the pit.  It is despair, fear and it is completely overwhelming.  

The pit is where I was last week.  It took a few catalysts to push me there--maybe read this post if you're interested in what those events might be, though to be fair, it's really an accumulation of the last 2 years--but there I sat, helpless and hopeless at the bottom of the pit.

Not a pleasant place to be.

It doesn't look inviting does it?
photo credit 

Today?  I can almost feel the lip that is the exit.  I'm not quite out of it yet, but I am nearly there.  I am functioning today and that is marvelous.

How did I get from the depths of despair to the edge of hope-filled freedom?  And so quickly?  I assure you, I have never spent so little time in the pit--age 11 to 18 was spent in the pit, pleading for death as it was the only escape I could foresee.  And all I can say is this: I reached a point of sweet surrender.  That moment when I was willing to recognize that I couldn't climb out on my own and I stopped stubbornly ignoring the Lord's outstretched hand.

I can actually pin-point the moment.  It was not during General Conference, which I was expecting to provide a spiritual high that would automatically catapult me out of the pit.  No.  It wasn't that easy... and yes, I am that stubborn.  Rather it was Sunday night as I sat reading scriptures with my children.  We had a beautiful discussion that has become the catalyst to surge me onward and upward.  

We are currently reading in the Book of Mormon and are in 3 Nephi.  Last night we read chapter nine (click here if you wish to read the entire chapter).  This chapter is just after the death of the Savior and the calamities that the American continent experienced at that time.  The surviving Nephites and Lamanites are trying to assess the damage, when they hear a voice, the voice of Christ, call out to them from Heaven.  In the last bit of verse 5 the Savior says: "How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not." In verse 6, He continues, "How oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if you will... return unto me with full purpose of heart."

How often does it happen that when things getting really hard and when we are in the pit, we turn away all help that is extended to us?  We ignore the outstretched hand of the Savior in those moments when we need His aide the most.  Why?

For me, I know it is pride.  And the erroneous attitude of "it's not fair!"

How thankful I am for a God that knows me and loves me and understands how to reach me, even when I am doing my best to be unreachable.  

After reading the above verses, one of my nine year old Things stopped the scripture reading to ask what those verses meant.  "What does it mean to be gathered in like chicks?"  I explained it means to be cared for, looked after, protected.  That the Savior is saying, in essence, He will ensure all our needs are met.  Then the great question from Thing 1: "why wouldn't you want to be gathered?"

Oh, that question resinated in my cavernous heart.  Side note: it is truly scary how fast one can go from steadfast and contrite to bitter, resentful and cold.  You know that echo in the pit?  Yeah, that normal comes from the hollowness within.  Anyway... 

That question really pierced me:  Why wouldn't I want to be gathered?  Why was I resisting?  Why wasn't I on my knees begging for help?  Why wasn't I taking the proffered hand?

I do want to be gathered.  I do want and need help.  I want to except the outstretched hand.

And just like that, there was suddenly a faint glow of light, marking the way up and out of the pit.

You know, I preach to my children ALL. THE. TIME. that happiness is a choice.  That we have a choice every second of every day how we are going to live and that includes how we are going to feel about how we live.  And I honestly believe that.  But, somehow, for a few (thankfully) days, I lost that insight and knowledge somewhere.  I am so grateful to have been reminded by my children of the very things that I am trying to instill in them.  It is a choice to be gathered.  It is a choice to look up and live.

Onward and Upward.

After all, who better to show us the way than He who came forth from a 'pit' never to be consumed by it again.  He can and does conquer all.

photo credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

*disclaimer:  please do not base your experiences on mine.  this was vastly more easy to climb out of than it has been in the past.  hope is a powerful thing.  however, i think part of the reason may also be that chemically/hormonally I am stable.  there are times when it is not only appropriate, but vital to enlist the aide of many, not just the Savior, to overcome.  medication has its place as does therapy.  do not be shamed (by yourself or others) into thinking that you are weak or that your faith is insufficient if these things are required for recovery.  

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