I believe it was the first time I’ve watched myself fading, all from outside my body. I’ve felt similarly scary moments – but this took things a new level.
As the title suggests, something disconcerting happened. From a vantage point outside my body, I saw myself sleeping. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong. While this plays out before me like a tv show, I watched as I seemed to wake up, and tried to prop myself up with my elbows. As I watched, though, I noticed that I was unable to do anything, including breathe. I saw myself fading, and falling over – my head back onto the pillow. But. I could not breathe. My chest was not rising and falling. There weren’t breaths happening. At all. From just outside my body, I was frantically telling myself to breathe, while the me drifting out of consciousness almost was trying to move, scream for help, or just breathe. Instead, I could do nothing.
Paralyzed, I fairly frantically said, “God, help me breathe. I just, I NEED to take a breath. Will you just help me breathe?” A split second later, I inhaled, saw and felt something impossible to put into words (pretty colors, light, warmth, etc.), and then was back in my body. Forcing myself to breathe. I woke up, and continued breathing, with no real troubles after that.
What happened? I don’t know. But, what I do know is this. I was not supposed to die. Not then, and not like that. No one knows their time, but I just knew that wasn’t it.
This experience has done something else also. It has opened my eyes. As a result, I have drawn parallels to life. More specifically, mental health and illness. Living. Not just living, but also death and dying. Those things, in connection with the Creator of the entire universe. God. The Maker of Heaven and Earth. Him. How they all relate and connect.
Just as I cried out to Him for physical help, to help the breath in my lungs keep flowing – to help me just catch a breath — just as I asked Him for that help, He’s just as available and just as willing to help me through other struggles. Through life’s toughest seasons. Through crisis. Through not wanting to live. Through feeling swallowed whole; feeling empty and heavy. He’s still there. Waiting. He needs an invitation to help us.
I know that I have felt more pain than I care to admit. And, there have been times I’ve questioned so much about even the very presence of God. I couldn’t feel Him anymore than the knight in shining armor of some fairy tale. Unlike in a fairy tale, that doesn’t negate His existence. He’s God. He isn’t the one who changes. We do. I know I do.
As I make conscious decisions to ask Him to help me breathe a little more often, I’m already feeling a lot less like I was having to learn to breathe again – sometimes grasping to have breath in my lungs. As I learn to trust Him in these desperate times, I feel less paralyzed and overwhelmed by talon like grips of depression. I am learning to take my own thoughts captive, instead of allowing the opposite to happen. As I retrain myself to change perspective, reframe my thinking, and keep my eyes on Him, I’m finding hope and healing in a way I had given up thinking even possible.
I’m not where I want to be yet, and I haven’t put it all into practice, but I will try. And I will keep trying. I don’t have all the answers, and maybe that’s okay. I welcome your thoughts and prayers, and your love and support – in whatever way, and in whatever picture that looks like. I need you, and I want to think you need me too. Let’s continue to do this thing called life together. Never alone.