As the plane took off, a tear slowly rolled down my face as I sat in silence. I stared out my window, as I watched my country get smaller each second, before flying into a thick mist of clouds. I felt so many emotions hit me all at once, I hadn’t even realized I was crying in a very public place, with nowhere to hide.
After a few minutes, the man sitting next to me gently touched my shoulder and said: “I don’t know what to say, but I see that you are crying." These very simple words meant the world to me! You know, it is so fundamental to be seen. People don’t always need answers, or the perfect response. Sometimes just being noticed and seen, right where they are, is enough.
Instantly I realized how much I needed these words five years ago, when I went through the darkest season of my life, battling with severe depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. For a few years, I fought this battle alone. I had it shared with a few of my closest friends and family, but no matter how often they told me they loved me, I could not find it in myself to believe them. I did not see any value in my life, and I was fighting a fight that did not seem worth winning. Of course, there were good days where I was able to laugh at the movies we watched, enjoy the cookies we baked, admire the beautiful spring flowers and sunsets, and enjoy life. But I also feared those days. For it seemed like depression was always lurking around, looking for ways to sneak back in, crushing me even harder.
Back in March, 5 years ago, I arrived at a point where I became too tired to fight, too tired from feeling too much and nothing at all. I decided I needed a change. I would either end it all, or ask for help. It was in that moment that I felt a little spark inside of me, a spark of strength, a spark of hope. This day eventually became the last day I ever hurt myself! I have felt triggered, and there were moments where the thought of healing scared me. But I found a glimpse of light, a day of hope, and a sliver of life.
I reached out, and asked for help. A few weeks later, I was checked-in in a psychiatric hospital. The therapy sessions were hard; facing my fears and discovering my coping mechanisms felt impossible most days. But somehow, I managed to push through. Strengthened by my friends and family who believed in me. But most of all, by God. I simply could not believe this was it. There had to be a purpose for my life, and I held on to that small piece of hope. Often I struggled with my depression and my faith. How could I feel this awful, while also believing in God’s love, God’s goodness? It made me feel so guilty. But in these moments, I felt so touched and encouraged by Jesus. Where He personally met me, held me, and gave me the strength to get through this.
Here I am, five years later, I am still here. I have finished university, did a DTS and just moved to the United States to join staff here at YWAM Los Angeles. I was taken back to that morning, where I was crying on the plane, I had just said goodbye to my family and friends. In that moment, I realized how much I love them, and as I saw their tears as they said goodbye, I realized how loved I am!
Five years ago, I believed my life did not matter, I did not matter. Today, I am beyond grateful to be alive. I am grateful for the friends and family that I cry for, because this means my heart has softened; I’m able to trust again, and I can feel again. The words of that stranger on the plane, will be my mission during my time in Los Angeles. To see people, to notice their pain, to not be afraid to love them; meet them in their pain, sit with them, and listen to their story. Then maybe, when I am done listening, I can share my story, for there is always hope! This, we must believe.