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There are those times in life when the stars seem to align in your favor, when everything is flowing smoothly and all the pieces fit together nicely without really much effort at all. And then there are those other times, where every day feels like a struggle and you feel like you are barely holding it together and you’re pretty sure that if one more thing goes wrong you might fall apart completely.
It’s called a rough patch.
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Whether it be in your career, your marriage, or your faith, it can hit you like a ton of bricks and make you feel like nothing will ever be okay ever again.
But it will. Trust me, it will. Eventually.
I don’t talk about it very often, especially not on this blog, but in my early twenties I went through a long and terrible depression. It literally almost killed me. I attempted suicide multiple times, of which the worst one landed me in a coma on life support with less than a 10% chance of ever waking up.
During that nearly three year period of hospitals and anti-depressants and even electroshock therapy, I lost almost everything–friends, family, my then marriage, my faith–and found myself utterly and completely without hope. I had to drop out of college and file for bankruptcy. Things were about as bad as they could get.
But eventually, slowly, things started to get better. And then one day I realized I was actually fine.
In the ten plus years since, my life has certainly not been perfect. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and I’ve stumbled along the way. I’ve gone through plenty of rough patches and stressful times but I’ve never even come close to that level of dispair.
Over the years there are a few things I’ve come to realize:
But for the Grace of God, I am here.
It has taken a long time to be able to say that. I didn’t wake up from that coma with a sudden epiphany; instead, I was nothing short of angry that I hadn’t succeeded.
It didn’t hit me until years later that there is no way I should have survived, much less without any sort of permanent brain damage. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Every day–even a bad one–is a gift. God spared me for a reason that day, and while I may not have it all figured out yet, I know there is a higher purpose.
Things will get better. Eventually.
Through the dark cloud of depression, I honestly couldn’t see how anything could ever be okay ever again. I wanted to die because I had no hope. I was completely blind to the possibility of an alternate reality.
The benefit of having knowingly hit rock bottom is that I now know with every certainty, with every fiber of my being, that no matter how bad things get, they will eventually get better. I think sometimes it probably makes me annoyingly upbeat.
It’s all a matter of perspective. When you are bogged down in the midst of a problem, it can be almost impossible to objectively see that a.) what you’re going through isn’t permanent and b.) there is a solution, even if you haven’t found it yet.
Every rough patch will end eventually. Cling to the knowledge that things will get better.
It’s never too late to change the course you’re on
Everyone makes mistakes or bad decisions. Some of them are really bad. But they don’t have to define you forever. If you don’t like the way things are going, make a change.
Eight months into my first year of law school I came to the stark realization that not only did I really despise law school, I had absolutely no desire to be a lawyer. I was miserable, but I didn’t know how to fix it.
And then my husband Chuck said something that changed my life. He said, “You know you don’t have to go to law school if you don’t want to. If you don’t like it, quit.”
It was a revelation. Especially considering that it was coming from a guy who had quit his job, moved cross country, and bought a house in order to be closer to me for what he thought was going to be the next 3 years. Until that moment, the thought of giving up on something I had worked so hard for (not to mention already invested a lot of money into) wasn’t even in my realm of comprehension.
I quit law school the very next day and have never once regretted that decision.
And from that experience I learned an important truth: it is never too late to change the path you are on. Yes, you may be stuck paying off your student loans for years to come–every decision comes with it’s own set of consequences–but you do have the power to make things different.
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Here in the Soukup household, life has been a little stressful lately. I guess I wrote this post as a reminder to myself that even when the going gets rough, we will be okay. Eventually.