January 18, 2016: Fragrance Lake Trail Photo by Ken deHaan

January 18, 2016: Fragrance Lake Trail, sporting my Bob Marley headphones which I almost lost that time I nearly got swept out to sea.

Dear Benefactor,

First I don’t write you for a long time and then I inundate you with three letters in a row. It’s just that I have something on my mind and I’m trying to figure out how to tell you.

I’ve dealt with depression over the past ten, twenty… okay, maybe it’s more like thirty-five years, but I usually manage to get through my days by putting my feet on the floor and willing myself to be happy. Every. Single. Day.

I’ve never tried to deal with it by using Prozac or Zoloft or anything like that. I don’t judge others for doing so, it’s just that I’m a bit more of a natural girl. I use B-12 and try to eat healthy as much as possible, exercise, get good sleep, and try not to stress.

In December, my depression got really bad.

I was already a bit down in the dumps and mad at myself for gaining 21 pounds back (out of 25 lost). I told Fran Drescher all about the weight gain, but I haven’t been able to talk to her in person about it. Also, I don’t think I told you. I worked out and worked out and worked out with weights for six months and apparently—according to the physical therapist—I overdid it and moved myself from Stage 0 to Stage I lymphedema. She said I need to chill on the weights for a while and do them in the right order when I get back to them. She also recommended I get hiking poles. I guess the motion of gripping the poles helps keep the lymphatic fluid moving. However, I digress big time. I do that when I’m nervous.

This old depression has piled on top of these other two new inconveniences and I can’t seem to conquer any of it with my usual resolve; by December, I felt like I was falling into the abyss never to come back out.

You see, when I was younger, I was sexually abused.

I have wished death on this person, I have been mad at God for allowing it to happen, I have been mad at the church for not protecting me when I sought help, I have contemplated suicide more than once. When I first got diagnosed, I wasn’t as upset as I thought I would be because I thought, “Hey, cancer will take me out and I don’t have to live with this agony any longer.”

Most of all, I’ve been ashamed and wondered what I did to deserve this: Did I dress too provocatively? Did I say the wrong thing to this person? What did I do to cause this to happen?

Lately, while I’m hiking, I’ve been listening to my iPod while I’m meandering through the woods. There is a lot of time to think while I’m walking and listening to my music. Every day, the depression seems to get a little bit worse, maybe because I try to hold it all in. And then, last week I came across two songs on my playlist that stopped me in my tracks:

No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless

—“Flawless” by MercyMe

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there’s nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

—“Cry Out To Jesus” by Third Day

Now you know pretty much everything there is to know about me. I’m a messed-up person, but I have hope. While I’m still angry with God for allowing that horrible time in my life, I also pray that He can use it for some sort of good, somewhere, somehow.

Sincerely,

Marie