by Antoinette Alba—
For the first time in my life, I understood the draw to shooting up. Yes, you read that right. Sticking a needle in my arm and pushing poison into my veins. Life up to that point had dealt me all kinds of blows, but never had I felt the crushing darkness the way I felt it that night.
The thing about depression that is so crippling is how your mind turns against you. It tells you these heinous lies—like, you’re a failure; you’re alone and always will be; no one understands and, worse, no one cares. It tells you that you should be afraid; you should be terrified because this feeling will never go away. You will always be this messed up person that no one gives a rip about. It was on one of these nights that I found myself pacing around my house, wondering where I could get something, anything, to shut my mind up.
I had just had an emotionally devastating conversation with someone who made me feel worse than worthless. I had some hard truths to face—I would never get what I needed from this person, and she would never willingly give it. In the span of less than an hour, I was brought to a breaking point. Just like that, Satan had seized his moment. Lies began to flood into my mind like a pipe had burst, and I became so weighed down by this heavy, opaque sorrow that I finally understood the desire to pump drugs through my veins. So, I began to pray.
My prayer life has never been solid. I’m not your classic Christian. I don’t get up and make a joyful noise in the front pew, and I don’t thank God for that parking spot right in front of the door. When people ask me about my “relationship with God” I tell them it’s like any relationship. I know God is there. I love Him and I trust Him with my life, but it’s not easy and it takes work. Most of the time God and I have a quiet relationship. We aren’t flashy. We don’t post about it on social media. We don’t take selfies with our dog to make everyone jealous of our perfect life. We don’t call each other weird pet names. We’re just us.
Turning to Him in the middle of this crisis was hard work. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t have anyone to call that I could even hope to explain the situation to. The second I said, “I really want to shoot up tonight,” anybody would just tell me not to do that, and that God loves me and I’m special, and blah blah blah. No one would really get it. So, I turned to God because I knew He would.
The Bible says that Jesus told His disciples, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Mark 14:34, NLT). It’s one of my favorite Scriptures because I have felt that way so often. To worship a God who has also felt that way breaks through the lie that I am alone. During a struggle that deep, Jesus reminded me that He’s been there, that He knew what it felt like, and that, like me in that moment, He asked His father for help when He was feeling that way.
I began to meditate on this text: “I am not afraid, because I know you are beside me. Even when it is dark and I can’t see you, I know you are beside me” (paraphrase of Psalm 23:4).
I felt God’s presence with me, and to my surprise I actually fell into a deep, peaceful sleep. God kept watch with me, and in the morning, everything wasn’t better, but I was changed in the light of His love, comfort, and consistency.
Antoinette Alba is an artist and writer based in California.