“My story”… two tiny words, one overwhelmingly daunting task. Sharing my story isn’t something that I thought I would ever be able to do. As I sit here while my 3 year old daughter plays in the bathtub, it’s not lost on me that my life could’ve been drastically different, I could have given up this precious opportunity had God not stepped in. My name is Jorden, I’m 25 years old. I’m a mom. I’m a hairstylist. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. I’m a friend. These are all titles that my Heavenly Father has blessed me with. I’m also a divorced, single mom. I’ve got my share of scars and damage. I make really bad choices sometimes. I don’t always react to things and situations the way I should. These are some of the things the world tries to tell me I am. My identity for most of my life was “depressed”.
I think that one of the common misconceptions about depression is that there has to be a horrible circumstance that causes it. I know that those situations are very very real and should be handled very seriously as they can be detrimental to one’s life. However, that’s not “my story”. A little back story about me: I have the most wonderful family in the world, they’re supportive, helpful, gracious and so kind. I wasn’t bullied in school. I’ve never gone hungry or without shelter. From the day I took my first breath I’ve been overwhelmingly loved by the people in my life! Anybody looking at my life from the outside would say that I’m more blessed than most… and they would be right! So, why did I want to end my life when I was 13? Why did I fight for more than 10 years just to stay alive? I can’t pretend to know the answers to those questions. But as I sit here now I know that God has those answers and I can rest in His all-knowing power. I don’t need the answers… I just need Him! Mental health wasn’t something that was really discussed in my family. I don’t believe it was because nobody thought it was important or because they thought it was a shameful thing. I believe it was because it just wasn’t something we had ever dealt with. I remember very vividly when I was 13 years old walking down the hall of my house towards my mom and step dad’s bedroom, my thoughts were to take my own life. My step dad was a retired marine and I knew exactly where he kept his guns. I had been struggling with suicidal thoughts for weeks and weeks. I was terrified and felt so alone. I was so afraid that if I opened my mouth and told anybody I would be shamed, told I was crazy, or put in a hospital away from my family for months. On my way down the hall I felt my feet get heavy. They wouldn’t take another step… God stepped in. I felt the overwhelming need to talk to my mom. (I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce one of the superheroes in my story… my precious mama.) She was cooking thanksgiving supper. I told her that I needed her and, true to form, she dropped everything, turned off the oven and every burner on the stove and came to my rescue. Finally saying the words “I’ve been thinking about hurting myself” was and still is the hardest conversation I’ve ever had. She took action immediately. All guns were put away, she called someone for me to talk to, I’m pretty sure she even started sleeping in my bed. For the first time in my life I realized just how powerful the mind is. The Bible says that “we do not wage war as the world does”. Our war is in our minds.
The years that followed this were filled with me doing everything I could to just be “normal”. I didn’t want this burden. I didn’t want this fight. There were moments of happiness but, my thoughts were far beyond my control most of the time, I thought about suicide often. When I was 22 years, old I got married. My marriage wasn’t the safe haven that it should’ve been. It was mentally and emotionally abusive. In November after I got married in September a little blue plus sign showed up on a pregnancy test. I was terrified. Could I be a good mom with depression? Could I handle that responsibility when I could barely control what went on in my mind? I had heard the words postpartum depression. I knew that it was a possibility. My depression didn’t just disappear while I was pregnant but I thought that after my baby was born I would be in the lala land of happiness that every new mom talks about. 9 months later a wonderful doctor laid a 7 pound 4 ounce miracle right on my chest. (Superhero #2 in my story.) She opened those big brown eyes and I was a goner. I was her’s forever. Before I left the hospital, I took the postpartum depression survey and wasn’t completely honest. I thought that maybe once we were home I would feel better. Up until this point my depression wasn’t something I talked about very often. I tried to push it down and ignore it. I knew that after pregnancy the rush of hormones would cause sadness. I was prepared to cry a lot… HAHA! I thought I was okay. I thought I could handle it. Then, two weeks after my precious girl was born, I was putting up clothes and found a gun in my ex-husband’s drawer. I knew there were guns in the house, I just didn’t know where and I liked it that way. It made me feel safe. I saw the gun and to my horror my thoughts ran completely wild. Suicide. But this time it wasn’t only about hurting myself… it was about hurting my baby too. I tried to just stay calm but I couldn’t and for the first time in my life I had a reason to fight. God had given me a physical, tangible reason to fight for my life and she was laying in the bassinet across the room. So, as my heart pounded and my hands shook, I frantically gathered mine and my daughter’s things for the day. It felt like it took an eternity but, I got us in the car and surprise! We headed to my mama’s.
Once we got to her house yet again, she dropped everything to come to my rescue. She took my baby out of my shaking hands and told me it was going to be alright. She told me I was safe. We called my OB/GYN and made an appointment for the next day. At that appointment I was prescribed an antidepressant that works for most people. It worked really well for about 2 weeks. Then I started to have horrible side effects. I was referred to my general practitioner to see if he could find a medicine that worked. I hated the thought of taking medicine every day. But, as a said before, for the first time in my life I had a reason to fight back. I had a reason to get better. I had a baby girl that needed me to be okay. I stayed with my mom every day for the next several weeks. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, sad, suicidal, and broken. I couldn’t be alone with my baby. The amount of guilt and shame that I felt was indescribable. My baby deserved better than this. I refused to be on medicine that made me a zombie. I refused to give her anything less than a mother fully aware and capable of taking care of her. After trying about 4 other antidepressants my doctor looked at me defeated and said “this is beyond me and I can’t keep putting you through this”. He suggested that I go see a psychiatrist. I felt like if I wasn’t on the crazy train before, I was the conductor now! I can’t remember exactly when I decided that I wanted to see a therapist but, shortly after the failed attempts to find a medicine that worked, I called Shirley (superhero #3). I sat down on the couch in her office, she walked in and Jesus walked in with her. It was time. It was time for me to get it all out. I had to finally just tell somebody exactly how I felt and what I was thinking. To my surprise, after I was done squalling and talking, she said okay… you’re going to be okay. She didn’t tell me I was crazy, she didn’t tell me I was going to lose my baby, she didn’t tell me that there was no hope. She told me about a doctor she knew that could help me (superhero #4). I went two days later to see my psychiatrist. Again, I cried and talked. She looked at me and said okay, we’re going to figure this out. She handed me a prescription and said call me immediately if you start to have side effects. I was ready for the medicine to not work. So, imagine my surprise when it did! I could finally see through the fog in my mind. I could finally get up every day. I could FINALLY start to heal.
I continued to see Shirley weekly and my psychiatrist every 2 months. I owe my life to these two people and I don’t say that lightly. They stepped in and helped me when I didn’t know how to ask for help. Shirley spoke life over me every single time we talked and it started to seep into my soul. It started to resonate with me. I started to see that I was worth it. I gave my heart to Jesus when I was a little girl. But I did my fair share of straying after that. January 6th, 2018, I left my ex-husband. My girl and I moved in with my mama (shocker! I know!). The day I left I called my mom and said I’m not going home tonight and she said okay baby, what do you want for dinner? On January 25th, 2018 my mom and I walked into my home church for the first time. Broken. Bruised. Depressed. Scared. I wasn’t in the trenches of depression, but I was still very sad. Life just kept knocking me down. But once again… God stepped in. Then… a miracle happened. He picked me up in His arms and said you belong here. You belong with Me. You belong TO me! You have a purpose! You’re not the lies you’ve been told! You’re not the mistakes you’ve made! I can heal you! I can give you peace! I can make beauty from the ashes of your life! I can’t remember the day or where I was but the turning point in my depression came after my divorce when I was listening to a sermon and the preacher talked about the hours before Jesus died on the cross. When He was praying in the garden before they took Him away to put Him through trial. He was praying and the Bible says that He said “my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to the point of death”. Wait…WHAT!? Jesus Himself felt like He wanted to die!? He knew exactly what I was going through! He had felt the depression that I felt! He could relate to me! The Bible isn’t silent about depression! I had always felt so distant from God because of my depression. I felt like it was too big for Him. Oh, how wrong I was! He understood! For the first time in my life I felt Jesus right beside me. I felt Him saying “baby, I’ve been where you are!” I knew now that I could bring this burden to Him and He understood. I didn’t have to fight this battle alone!
So, here I am. 25 years old, I live by myself with my daughter. We have our own apartment. I have my dream job. And most importantly I have Jesus. He’s my comforter, He’s my healer, He’s my friend. I still struggle, I have days where my heart is heavy, days where my past creeps up on me. I fight daily to take my thoughts captive and turn them into praise. Because that’s what He’s given me… a story of praise! He brought me through the darkest, lowest time of my life, a time that I truly didn’t think I would survive. I couldn’t see myself ever being where I am today. I never thought I could be thankful for something as awful as depression but, I am. I’m thankful for my story. Because it glorifies my Heavenly Father. It shows just how powerful and loving He is. I have the opportunity to help other women. I can stand beside them and say “I’ve been there! And I made it through!” I now have clinical depression; it DOES NOT have me anymore! God took control of my situation, He took my life and made it exceedingly beautiful. I have joy… not just happiness. Deep down in my soul I have JOY! We are victorious, Jesus and I! We are strong together! Whoever is reading this and whatever your reason is for reading this, I pray that above all else when you hear my story you see Jesus. Because this is His story in my life. I’m merely a vessel. No matter how thick the darkness is, the morning is coming! Keep pushing forward, keep leaning on Jesus. If you need to talk… please talk! If you need medication… please find a doctor who will listen and help you! It’s okay to not be okay! Jesus died on the cross because He knew we would have “not okay” seasons of life! He’s there, He’s listening! He CAN heal every hurt, every tear, every sleepless night, every heartbreak. He can and He will!
“The pain you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming” Romans 8:18
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy!” Psalm 126:5