Thursday, August 18, 2011

From a man of courage and strength

A few days ago, my son asked texted me to ask if he could guest post on my blog.  I responded instantly, "Absolutely!"  My very brave, very beloved son, I should say. 

My name is Jonathan, and I'm the lost middle child of this blogger. You may have seen me referred to by the very clever pseudonym of “J”. When I asked my mom if I could guest blog, I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about. I just wanted to accomplish something tangible.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
Since last January, my life has been a ride. There hasn't been a whole lot of good in my life, I'll be honest. Lots of surgeries, lots of medications. Getting mentally and physically healthy has been a priority of mine for the last almost two years. 5 surgeries, several pretty intense illnesses, and a colon/endoscopy have made me feel like I'm destined to be physically broken for all of my life. I've also struggled financially, which should come as no surprise. I've spent 10s of thousands of dollars on medical bills, while also being either out of work or working a limited amount. I've had to make decisions that I never expected to make: i.e choosing between a tank of gas or eating. If you had told me, at age 6, that my life would consist of this, I would have laughed in your face.

The hardest part of this whole experience is two fold: 1) my continuing search for faith and 2) figuring out what I want to do with my life. The first part is especially hard because my struggle with faith comes from a very specific thing. I have never felt the presence or an emotional connection to God. Without having a healthy body and mind, it is hard to actually pursue any relationship. Especially one that is as meaningful and important as a relationship with God. Make no mistake: I want my relationship with God to be genuine. I have seen too many people that have fake “relationships” to know that I want mine to be the real deal.

It has been a genuinely hard road. A long, dark, and, most of the time, a lonely road. One that I would not wish on another human. The biggest of my problems is the way that my two mental health issues feed into one another. I can't be around too many people because it makes me anxious, but being by myself makes me more depressed. As a result I've probably damaged a significant portion of my relationships. I know that I haven't been too present at family events (even close family gatherings). I've been neglectful of all but my closest friends. I honestly worry if they take my absences to heart and think that I don't care for them anymore.
Of course, the people in my life have been the biggest strengths that I have going for me. My roommate is very supportive. He has worked with me and my financial instability far more than he should have. He has made his house a very safe place for me and has been a tremendous blessing. My two best friends have done whatever they could, whenever they could. The one I went to high school with struggles with the same mental things that I am, so I have someone close to me who TRULY understands what I'm dealing with. The friend I went to middle school with has been very understanding and very supportive as well. My sisters have (at least to me) never mentioned how absent I have been, and they are also very caring of me. I could never thank my parents (or any of these people) enough for what they have done. My parents never pressure me into a situation that I am uncomfortable in. They also have given me exceptional support and advice throughout everything. If not for these people, I would be a statistic about suicides.

I realize that this blog post has been rather disjointed. But in that way, it resembles my life. I'm not sure where my life is headed. I feel so out of touch with all of my contemporaries. They are starting lives, having children, and careers. I'm stuck in neutral, just trying to keep myself alive. I know that seems a bit extreme, but it is the truth. I think about death and dying every day; not good for someone at the ripe age of 24. I have lived the past year and a half just one day at a time, and I'll probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; (9) persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
I think this piece of scripture applies directly to my life. The one thing that hasn't happened to me is that I haven't broken from the strain of life. I credit that to my phenomenal support structure. And maybe, I am a little tougher than I thought I was. So I leave this blog with some hope. Hope that at some point I will get some relief. And I'll be able to move forward and have a normal life. It is not tangible hope. Nothing that I can see. Just a feeling. A feeling that I can change and get better and be normal. That is what ultimately keeps me fighting. And I urge anyone who has struggled with depression and/or anxiety to talk to someone about it.

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