Through the Grace of God
By Kelly Albers
Prisms, splinters pieced together in an indelible design. Past and present artfully brought to life.
Intertwined with sharp and subtle edges, luminously patterned.
Knife edged scraps bonded to richly colored pieces, invoking delicacy and vitality.
A blossoming story of richness held in each fragment- a memoir of pain, grief and growth. A silent, but dynamic illustration of her journey.
I have been battling depression and anxiety since I was 17 years old; dark days and nights filled with flashbacks, panic, fear and grief. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and rape. My painful past, which I had largely repressed, spilt forth with an eating disorder and a suicide attempt, which nearly ended my life. I had bottled up so many feelings and unspoken words, which manifested in unhealthy coping mechanisms. My perpetrators threatened my life and those of my loved ones if I dared to speak the truth. I felt shame and isolation from my peers. Somewhere inside I carried the truth, but for years I couldn’t find my voice. A week or more would go by and I couldn’t get out of bed. Everything felt too heavy and dark. The thought of facing the outside world reduced me to panic and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
Through the grace of God, I found the help I so desperately needed. I had to reach deep inside to find the courage and strength to face my painful past. Slowly, with the help of a wonderful therapist, I began to climb out of the dark hole I had fallen into. The light hurt at first. My anxiety would surface as I remembered the unspeakable acts done to me, but I held on and had faith that I would get through this.
I found journaling, swimming and taking walks to be very helpful and healing. Being surrounded by nature, I was able to see beauty and to find grounded-ness. I felt more hopeful with each step I took. My body and my feelings felt soothed by water. I could feel my strength rising.
For me, my faith had been shaken and I was angry at what had been done to me. I came to realize that some of my depression was anger I had turned inward. Through scripture and spiritual direction, I found new nuggets of inspiration and forgiveness.
Although it’s improving, there still remains a stigma to mental illness. Some of it is related to people being uneducated about this disease. I have found courage to admit that I have depression and anxiety, but I will not be a victim to it. I will not allow it to rob me of precious moments and memories. I have had to take medication to help with my depression and anxiety and it has been a lifesaver. There is no shame in admitting you need help to get through the murky and challenging times.
Truly facing and dealing with depression and anxiety can be a long process and I still have rough days, but they are fewer and further between my beautiful days.