My trip of more than a thousand miles starts this morning. I'm going back to my Georgia roots - my home for more than thirty years. I sometimes become sentimental upon making these bi-annual journeys. Today is one of those days.
I think of loved ones now departed, of fun with cousins and childhood dreams. Some memories are good, some are bad, and some are downright painful. I grew up there, married there, had my children there. But, I also almost died there.
Nearly every time we visit, we drive by our first house. We were so proud when we bought it and lived there for almost eight years. Its walls hold so many good memories, especially ones of our children. It was the first place each of them called home, and I fondly remember crossing the threshold with them in my arms. But as much as there was beauty in that place, there was darkness.
My friend B (bulimia) began tormenting me there, and deep, suffocating depression took hold. Even after I began my recovery from the eating disorder, depression lingered, its icy grip choking the life out of my soul. Even though I was unable to receive in-patient treatment for bulimia due to issues with insurance, I was able to get a certain amount of psychiatric treatment and counseling. Medication did not afford much relief and had hideous side effects; I continued to spiral downward.
I was trapped, suicidal, sometimes incoherent and barely functioning. I operated on auto-pilot, but my mind was long gone. After a period of care with no improvement, my psychiatrist made a suggestion: let something go or be admitted to the psych ward. I was devastated but knew he was right. Inpatient treatment just wasn't an option. I would be out of work and have a huge hospital bill to go with it. We were living hand to mouth as it was, and it seemed like there was no way out. There seemed to be nothing to give up. I couldn't stop being a parent, so there was only one thing left to concede- my job. After much prayer and consideration, we decided that it was best for me to stay home and try to recover.
That decision made a huge impact on our lives. This was the change I needed but while my recovery was going well, our finances took a hard hit. We could no longer pay our bills and after about a year were forced to file bankruptcy. The choice between health and money was a hard one. It was embarrassing and painful to go through that process, but unfortunately there were no other options.
We lost our house; we lost a car; we lost our pride. But, I was better and as always, God had a plan. John took a job in Oklahoma and now, over six years later, we are doing well. I struggle with depression every now and then, but I no longer battle the heavy, insidious, clinical darkness that had once taken over.
As I make the journey back home, it feels like I've come full circle. I walk the perimeter of those prisons which once were my home. I look at that house, those memories and let out a sigh. I made it. He kept me. He keeps me now.