The only way out is through

If I had my time again I would not decide to unpick my life at the end of two years of lockdown. Lockdown 6 was brutal and damaging in a way all the others weren’t. It left me feeling anxious and lonely and on top of the two years of the uncertainty and change, it was not the best timing.

When I decided to see a counsellor, I thought it was just going to be a few issues that were causing me to be stuck emotionally, instead have turned into a process that has seen me plumb the depths of my soul to find the darkness that lurked there and bring it to the light. It’s not been pretty.

There have been some very dark days in the last few weeks, days when I didn’t know whether I had the strength to keep going. I was not suicidal but my heart beat so hard with anxiety, I felt sure it would fail.

When people checked in I’d say everyday is better but everyday is harder. For a few weeks, cooking a meal was beyond me, basic tasks were exhausting. I’ll be forever grateful to my parents who looked after me, checking in, helping with chores and keeping me fed.

The thing about going through something like this, is that the world sees all the bits you hide. It’s excruciating. No one wants to not be perfect or to hang their dirty laundry out to be looked at and judged. And yet I’ve had to because by telling people I’m not ok and I need help, I’ve been able to get the support I need.

People have said I’m brave and inspiring in how I’ve gone about facing these issues. I don’t know where that has come from. Most of the time I wanted to curl up in a ball and hope it went away. And yet somehow each day I found the courage to turn around and to face things and keeping working through it.

In walking this journey, I’ve had to put radical trust in God. I’ve had to relinquish control of not just the process, but my own life; I’ve never felt less in control or more safe.

I’m not yet able to give the testimony of what God has been doing. But from the moment I met with my vicar for spiritual advice on forgiveness to today, each step has been guided. I’ve glimpsed the power of God and seen miracles performed.

And I’ve prayed a lot, I’ve spent hours just talking to God, praising him and inviting him into my thinking, the memories, the feelings. He’s led me to information that has shown me new ways forward, he has used all of me, even my skills as a librarian to move me along in this journey.

I’ve been supported in prayer by my family, friends and church. The women of my bible study group have been such a comfort to me, never seeming to mind my endless requests for prayers. It’s been humbling and a blessing.

I’m not yet at the end of this journey and as far as I’ve come, there may be just as far to go. But the light grows stronger, the steps forward mount up and slowly joy returns.