A Tennis Match
I didn’t really understand it when it first hit me. Why everything would turn to a shade of slate, or why I couldn’t control how fast my heart beat in my chest. I never understood the tennis match between severe clinical depression or anxiety that hit me in eighth grade.
My parents didn’t quite get it either. They would often yell at me, threatening to take me to a counselor if I didn’t get my act together.
It saddens me that a counselor was threatened. It took me years to finally visit one, my junior year of college.
I didn’t have a label for it until I reached my freshman year of college.
Didn’t have a diagnosis until a year later.
High functioning, severe clinical depression and anxiety.
Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?
Into the Gray
It started off milder. Fatigue, hopelessness, an invisible weight of drying cement on my skin and eyelids when I would wake up.
Or, pressure in my temples, hurt in my chest from a heart beating too fast, and guilt welling up if I wasn’t doing homework, writing, or something other than sitting.
I didn’t know how to relax. I still don’t.
The tennis match continued, back and forth. Depression and anxiety. Love-all. Until I reached the summer before my junior year.
Statistics show more and more parents opt for this every year, but numbers don’t make things any easier. I try to imagine people telling the statistics of death to someone in a funeral home. Something tells me that conversation wouldn’t go over well.
I’d convinced myself that even if everything in my life fell apart, if my parents stayed together, I had some semblance of sanity. After all, they’d crooned countless times when we were children, “Mommy and daddy fight a lot, but we won’t get divorced.”
So there we were. Sitting in a family room as dad tried to place his hand on mom’s shoulder as he tried to explain the separation. She flinched away.
She turned, eyes flashing, and growled, “Don’t sweetie me.”
So there I was, dashing outside, crying and hyperventilating.
So there the moving truck was to pick up mom’s stuff and move her to another town.
And there, in my bedroom, I was crumpled in a ball trying to chase away the thoughts of suicide. About the plan I had to carry it out. I never did. But that plan can sometimes haunt me in echoes.
“I wrote my way out of hell.”
I love this lyric from Hamilton because I think everyone has something to help them out of the hell they deal with every day. My brother plays guitar, my sister participates in theater. We all have something to help us out of hell.
That’s what I did. I wrote my way out of hell.
Every day, I would give my characters my struggles. I would place them in hell and watch them fight out of it. I wrote until I published 300+ works. I wrote until I landed a book contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I wrote to make sense of the shrieking matches, the counseling threats, the fearing of what sorts of moods people would come home in, the depression, the painful break-ups, the spiritual darkness, everything.
I still deal with it.
I’d love to say that God removed the thorn the instant I asked him to. He didn’t. Maybe he kept it in my side so I could help a reader who deals with depression, divorce, or any other word that starts with a d. Maybe he left it to remind me to rely on him.
Either way, I still get suicidal. I still get heart-racing, difficult-to-breath moments, and they hit me on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.
I still write.
Because I have to. Because I’m called to. Because it gives me a purpose to see heaven amidst hell.
Because it gives me hope, and because it will give hope to any other reader whose weeks get a little more gray each day.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. She is excited for her modern-day Daniel “Blaze” to come out with IlluminateYA (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). She enjoys all things theater, cats, and fire. Read more about her here: www.hopebolinger.com