A Tattoo for Remembering

04/21/2018 .
Saddleback Storytelling Ministry

For as long as she can remember, Dania has spiraled through cycles of depression and anxiety. She always comes back to the same place of feeling alone and longing for peace. Despite a lifelong battle with depression, Dania is a survivor who keeps reaching for hope, which always feels just out of reach. Weeks of time in her memory are blocked off as she struggles to maintain her balance. There were times when she thought a change of scenery would help. But she's discovered that leaving never helps, and the feeling never fully goes away.

Dania's eyes fill with tears as she ponders forgiveness, looking down at the tattoo on her wrist. The word “Forgiven” stretches across her skin, reminding her of the hope that she desperately clings to. Dania wonders if she would be forgiven if she took her life. The thought and the pain she would cause her children give her a drive to hold on. Dania's heart aches as she imagines the mess she'd leave behind for those who love her.

Reaching out for help is a struggle for Dania. As much as she tries to meet with doctors and others who can help her, deep pain from past experience compels her to stay away. Dania believes friendships have been broken as the result of her illness, yet she can't change herself. "I can't just expect people to put up with me," she said, her heavy sadness seeping through her shaky voice.

One night, thoughts of suicide nearly overwhelmed Dania. A friend had recently recommended staying connected to church by watching online if she was at home, feeling sick. Watching that service on her computer screen saved her life that night. The message reminded Dania that she needed to hold on, and she decided against taking the pills she had in her medicine cabinet.

"The day I contemplated dying by suicide, God verbalized through Pastor Rick’s message how much he loves me," Dania said. "That message stopped me."

"Since then, I've been able to open up and share my story and struggles," she continued. "I have great friends that are there by my side, walking with me on this journey. Talking about my depression has also opened up the door to a good counselor who is helping me understand my anxiety and develop strategies to care for myself."

Dania also found encouragement at the Saddleback Women's Pray Love Lead event, when Kay Warren shared her own story about grieving her son's death. "Kay shared about the pain that she and Rick went through," Dania said. "Kay also broke down the complexity of grief, and how no one can tell you how long you need to grieve. Kay's story moved me because she knows the challenges of mental illness, reminding me that I need to take care of myself. Life is so fragile."

"I have good and bad days,” Dania continued, “but even in my darkest moments, I know I can hold onto the hope and promises God has given me — that he has plans to prosper me and bless me. He has to see us, because that's the only thing we have. I can't even think that this isn't for a purpose. There has to be a reason for my depression. Even though I feel this way, I don't have to know the reason behind my sickness. I just have to trust that God has a plan for my life. I get up in the morning, wash my face, and go on."

Learn more about Hope 4 Mental Health at saddleback.com/mentalhealth.