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Amazing Grace: My Story (Part 2)

Life Story | Inspirational Stories | PTSD | Depression Stories | Suicidal Thoughts | Suicide Prevention Hotline | Hope for Sexually Abused Victim | Surviving Abuse | Overcoming Depression

{Read Part 1: Falling}

*   *   *

Part 2: Clouds Lifting

The thing about hitting rock bottom is that you don’t actually know you are there until things finally start to get better.  At the time, it was a very scary place to be.  After spending two years living under the dark cloud of depression all my hope was gone.  I knew nothing except sadness and misery and I felt so utterly alone.

Most of my friends, even those who were supportive at first, had given up on me.  Those who hadn’t given up simply didn’t know how to help, so they just let me be.

People can only be patient and understanding for so long.  By that point it must have seemed like I was wallowing, and in truth, I may have been.  I don’t blame them for getting frustrated.  I was so consumed by the depression that I had nothing to give.

I moved in with my dad because I had nowhere else to go.  I spent almost all my time lying in bed.   I was too exhausted to even try and hurt myself anymore.

Now that I have children of my own, I have a whole new perspective of that time.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for my father to watch me lie there day after day, in so much pain, without any idea of how to help me.  But my dad is a man of action, and desperate to get me out of bed, he finally convinced me—bribed me actually, with the promise of a cell phone—to start exercising.  He was convinced it would help.

I wanted nothing less than to go to the gym, but I did, if only for him.  For a long time that 30 minutes on the treadmill was literally the only thing I could manage to do all day.  I would come home and go straight back to bed.  But after a few months, amazingly enough, I started to feel a little better.

The clouds were lifting.

I found a new therapist and told her that I had spent the past two years talking about every bad thing that had ever happened to me and I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.  Instead, I now just wanted to figure out how to live a normal life again.  After two years in psychiatric hospitals, of madness and self-destructive, dangerous behavior, I honestly had no idea what “normal” even meant.

Dr. Marek was amazing. I saw her three times a week and we talked about concrete, tangible ways to get my life back.  I stopped dwelling on the past and began creating a future.  It was a huge paradigm shift.

My dad, in a leap of faith for which I will be forever grateful and against the advice of everyone he knew, gave me a job and helped me get an apartment.  I got a dog, which gave me a reason to get out of bed and go for long walks every morning.  I began to make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and even found a way to make peace with my family again.

But not with God.

Instead, I did my own thing.  I worked hard and excelled at my job.  I went back to school to finish the degree I had abandoned when I went off the deep end.  I relished my single life, went out dancing almost every night, watched football, threw parties, and went camping on the weekends. I spent every single day doing exactly what I wanted when I wanted.   And it was fun.

Even so, something was missing.

I decided going to law school was the best way to fill the void I still felt. I didn’t just want to get my law degree, but my business degree as well.  I buried myself into studying for the LSAT and GMAT and spent countless hours filling out applications, visiting schools, and interviewing for acceptance.  In February 2004, I was accepted to the Dual-Degree JD/MBA program at Washington University in Saint Louis, my top choice.  I was thrilled.

Two weeks later, I met Chuck.  We had actually been introduced a few months before earlier, through mutual friends, but on March 10th, 2004, four years and 1 day after my first suicide attempt, we began dating.  I don’t know if it was love at first sight, but it was close.  From the very beginning, we both just knew.

Within a month of dating, he made plans to quit his fancy job as an aerospace engineer and move with me to Saint Louis so I could attend school.

No one thought this was a good idea.  My oldest brother angrily told me I was ruining my life.  My friends and family, who had watched me struggle for so long, and who were so supportive of my new plan to go back to school, did not want to see me throw my life away again on some random guy.  His friends told him he was crazy for throwing away a great career to chase a “leggy blonde” halfway across the country.

We couldn’t really blame them.  Not only did we barely know each other, he was almost 20 years older than me.  We were complete opposites in almost every way:  I smoked, he hated smoking.  I was a flaming liberal; he was as conservative as they come.  I liked things complicated; he was just a simple guy.   He liked meat; I prefer vegetables.  None of that mattered.  We both just knew.

After packing up our things and depositing them in St. Louis, we decided to spend that summer before law school at his house in Florida, (the house he had bought to retire at after resigning himself to the idea that he would never marry.)  On August 13th, 2004 Hurricane Charley, a category 4 storm, swept through Southwest Florida.  Punta Gorda, our little town, was the eye of the storm.

Chuck was brave; I was not.  He ran around battening down the hatches while our front door blew in and the neighbor’s tile roof came crashing through the windows at 140 miles per hour.  I spent the hours of the storm huddled in the closet with a mattress over my head, screaming “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die!  I want to go to law school, I don’t want to die!”

It was in that moment, as frightened as I was, that I knew I had finally found the will to live.

{Read Part 3: Changing Paths}

 If you are suffering from depression or PTSD, please know that you are not alone.  It is so hard to see the light when you are in the midst of the darkness, but it doesn’t mean the light isn’t there.  If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help available.  Please talk to someone as soon as possible–a counselor, pastor, doctor, or friend, or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

33 Comments

  1. christina
    March 7 at 12:46PM

    Ruth, today you are such a beautiful person inside and out! your story gives me hope that I can be a great women and future mother like you! <3

    I made her.
    I made her, she is different. She’s unique.
    With love I formed her in her mother’s womb.
    I fashioned her with great joy.
    I remember, with great pleasure, the day
    I created her. Psalm 139:13-16

    I love her smile.
    I love her ways.
    I love to hear her laugh.
    And the silly things she says and does.
    She brings me great pleasure.
    This is how I made her. Psalm 139:17

    I made her pretty and not beautiful,
    Because I knew her heart,
    And I knew she would be vain.
    I wanted her to search out her heart
    And to learn that it would be Me in her
    That would make her beautiful?
    And it would be Me in her that would draw friends to her. 1 Peter 3:3-5

    I made her in such a way,
    That she would need Me,
    I made her a little more lonesome than she
    Would like to be.
    Only because I want her to turn to Me
    In her loneliness.

    Only because I need for her to learn and
    Depend on Me.
    I know her heart, I know if I had not made
    Her like this
    She would go her own way
    And forget Me- her Creator. Psalm 62:5-8

    I have given her many good and happy things.
    Because I love her. Psalm 84:11 & Romans 8:32

    Because I love her,
    I have seen her broken heart.
    And the tears she has cried alone,
    I have cried with her.
    And had a broken heart with her, too. Psalm 56:8

    Many times she has stumbled and fallen alone
    Only because she would not hold My hand.
    So many lessons she’s learned the hard way
    Because she would not listen
    To my voice. Isaiah 53:6

    So many times I have set back
    And sadly watched her go her merry way alone
    Only to watch her return to My arms,
    Sad and broken. Isaiah 66:2

    And now she is mine again!
    I made her, and I bought her.
    Because I love her. Romans 5:8

    I have to reshape and remould her.
    To renew her to what I had planned for her to be.
    It has not been easy for her or for Me. Jeremiah 29:11

    I want her to be conformed to My image.
    This high goal I have set for her,
    Because I beleive in her and love her. 2 Corinthians 2:14

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:45PM

      Thank you Christina!

  2. March 7 at 02:33PM

    Again, thank you for sharing. Your story will help so many to change their own lives.

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:45PM

      You’re welcome Michele, and thank you.

  3. March 7 at 03:38PM

    Ruth you are inspiring many woman with each post you write about your past. I know writing these posts must be very tiring and sometimes a struggle to write it “just so”. Thank you for sharing!

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:44PM

      Thank you Erin. That really means a lot.

  4. Julie
    March 7 at 04:02PM

    Hi Ruth, I started following your blog via a link from where I can’t remember. I read it through Google Reader and have my files set up Read Daily, Read Monday, Read Tuesday and so on. I do this to limit myself in the time I spend on the computer. When I first subscribe to a blog I usually drop in it the check daily just so I can read it for a week or so to see if it is a blog I love and then I determine what day to put it on.

    As I said, I don’t remember how I found you, it could have been from a link on another blog or from a Pin. Irregardless, my first reading was your story of Amazing Grace Part One. I thought to myself, what in the world how did I subscribe to this kind of blog. However, your story was captivating and I kept it in my file. Today, I read Part Two and I’m so glad I subscribed, however it is I got here. What a story thus far. Thank you for writing it and I know that God will use it for good.

    Since I am doing laundry today (a lot of laundry) I decided to go back to the beginning of your blog and read more about this Ruth girl. I am enjoying it so and would encourage others to do the same. I have found several things to Pin and I am only on October 17, 2010! I’ve been a rare user of coupons, spending more time clipping and filing than using. I did the CVS thing for awhile and made it a goal to “stop the CVS madness” because I was spending so much money just for the deal. Your series on couponing has made me think about taking another look at things and I used your Saving Well, Spending Less site to print out a list at a couple of stores to try tomorrow. Thank you so much for all that you are offering here and God bless you in your mission of serving your family and your readers.

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:44PM

      Julie, thank you so much for sharing this with me. Sometimes I struggle with the right way of bringing all the different facets of myself and my life to this blog. The fact is that while using coupons is important to me, and a great way to save money, being “the coupon girl” is only a very small part of who I am. Thank you for keeping me in your reader. 🙂

  5. March 7 at 08:09PM

    I think it’s very interesting that your dad told you to exercise. I used to struggle with depression and exercise was the only thing that helped. I also think it is very powerful not to dwell on the past and relive horrible things that have happened. Just like it says in Phillipians, “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:41PM

      Exercise is definitely very powerful! Love that verse.

  6. Angie Matthiessen
    March 7 at 10:10PM

    Thank you friend for sharing your heart and whole wonderful self with us. I was under a table at the Cultural Center that day. I am so glad you found that will inside you. As you put it to me, the brokenness is now being used for God’s glory. God brought us into one another’s lives. I am grateful.

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:40PM

      Angie, I thank God for putting you in my life every single day. xoxo

  7. Beth
    March 8 at 11:32AM

    Thank you.

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:39PM

      You’re welcome. 🙂

  8. Brandi
    March 8 at 07:33PM

    Thank you for sharing. I was in your spot and only surrendering to God gave me life again. I was once told “suicide was the most selfish thing you could do” all I could say to that person was they didn’t understand. When you’re that low you feel it is the most selfless thing you can do because everyone would be better off without you. It is a terrible lie, but when hope is fading fast it is the only thing you have left to cling to. I thank God everyday that he brought me out of it and now I see myself as on the most bravest strongest women I have ever known. I see him exactly as he sees me, “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:38PM

      That’s awesome Brandi. It is so true! Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  9. Kristi
    March 9 at 04:55PM

    When I read part one I was crying by the end. With part two I had an ever so slight smile. Thank you for sharing!

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:36PM

      You’re welcome! Thank you for commenting! 🙂

  10. Paul
    March 9 at 09:13PM

    Thank you too.

    • Ruth
      March 12 at 07:35PM

      🙂

  11. Milissa
    March 18 at 01:10AM

    Hi Ruth, I’ve come to your blog I thought by chance… i saw some of your coupon youtube videos which led me to your blog. Now I realize that this story you are sharing is something i’m needing to read right now in my life. Thank you for your honesty and your desire to help others struggling with depression. I only follow a few blogs but i am definitely adding you to my list and look forward to using your couponing tips as well as reading your story you are sharing with your readers. Thank you!

  12. Patty
    April 5 at 03:20PM

    you, my friend, ARE brave. xo

  13. Melonee
    July 5 at 09:54PM

    So proud of you for having the courage to share your story, Ruth! It’s an inspirational and beautifully written account of how our awesome God uses every detail of our lives to bring us right back into His open arms!

  14. AM glover
    March 11 at 06:24PM

    I’ve only read part 1 so far. Can relate to the abuse in past and depression. Thank you for sharing. I still struggle with intimacy with my husband of 21 years. He’s patience. God is big. Thank God for that. Blessings to you.

  15. September 2 at 05:04PM

    I loved reading your story, it is encouraging because after going through so much, sometimes you feel all alone. I feel like the only person whose therapist has said that they have never had anyone who has been through so much. I had abortions, drug addictions, and almost anything that could go wrong, did, in my early 20’s. Then I made it through, got married, and had kids, only to then find out that my dad had been molesting my son since he was born and there were so many behavior problems that we didn’t know what to do, and I was pregnant again with my daughter. I have now, finally become strong enough to abandon my family because they choose not to believe it and go on with my family alone. God has saved us and things are looking up for us, too. Hopefully this also helps someone else. We are not alone, there ARE others like us. Thanks so much for sharing. If you feel like something is wrong, do not spend years ignoring your intuition.

  16. Jennifer
    October 23 at 06:53AM

    I am still reading your story, but just wanted to say that I am from Port Charlotte! I was not there when Charly went through, but my parents were, and my mother is still traumitized from that hurricane. Thank you for sharing your story, it’s very inspiring.

  17. Sarah Alexander
    February 3 at 04:00PM

    I am so surprised and happy to read your story! Reason, I knew Chuck when he was in college in Illinois and again in California. He is the nicest guy in the world! I am so happy to have come across your site and see Chuck again! Congrats to you both. Your children are darling!

  18. Barbie
    September 17 at 09:54PM

    Ruth, I am a rape survivor. I just finished the trial on September 9, 2016. The process was horrible but the end result was a unanimous guilty verdict after only less than 3 hours deliberation after a 6 day long trial. Thanks for sharing your story. It was very brave of you. I can tell you that in the eye of the storm the Lord carried me and reassured me throughout this whole past year that he was here and he was fighting for me and I needed to trust and rest in him. That was a very very tall order to fill. The emotional trauma I have will last forever, but I will only get stronger each day. I praise him in the storm and stand in awe of all he is and does for me. I am sure he loves me and I know I love him too. Thanks again for your story. God bless you. I am so happy to know you found what you were missing in your life.

    • Ruth Soukup
      September 19 at 06:36AM

      Dear Barbie,

      I’m so sorry to hear about the recent abuse you have experienced. Praying that you can continue to find peace, healing and comfort through God’s power.

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