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Looking back, the path that led me to anxiety and depression was not a straight one. It was more like stacking an impossibly high tower of blocks, each block representing a different aspect of my life in India, that was bound to topple as each new and overwhelming experience was piled on.
(You’re about to learn more about me than you probably care to know, but…) I’m an introvert, who can tend to spend way too much time inside my own head. I also have an empathetic spirit, but I don’t like to show my emotions. So I tend to take difficult, sad things and internalize them. That turned out to be a devastating combination, spelling big trouble for me in India where nearly every place I looked was full of extreme poverty and need.
I would walk or ride down the street only to have a never-ending stream of dusty hands reaching out, begging, for a few rupees or something to fill their hungry stomachs. Tin shacks, lining the streets, gave little protection from the elements. Everywhere I looked a desperate face peered back.
Faced, for the first time in my life, with such destitution and hopelessness an ugly question started to creep into my soul. God, if you’re good, why do so many people suffer so terribly day after day with little hope of seeing anything change? It was the first time I had ever really allowed myself to question my beliefs, but, faced with my new reality, it was unavoidable. I had to know the answer.
That seemed to open up a gauntlet, and as my personal struggle with anxiety and depression worsened, with panic attacks and suicidal thoughts, I began to feel abandoned by God. I moved from questioning God’s goodness to doubting that he was good at all. And then I got really angry…
(To be continued tomorrow…)