It’s been a while since I last wrote for my blog! My love for photography has kept me going these last few months, though it’s resulted in me forgetting to write here. Oops!

Well folks, 2021 has almost ended. And thank goodness! It’s been a doozy of a year.

I’m writing this to remember all of the depression ups and downs this year gave me, to look back on this in the future. This way, I can see years down the road just how far I’ve come, with the help of so many beloved people in my life.

Blossoming Hope

My Grandma’s magnolia tree!

Oh boy. I really don’t like where I was, emotionally speaking, in the early Spring.

It was in late March that things came to a head. You know what started everything? Something at work.

Back in March, my work was a stress mess. Things happened that ended up unwittingly triggering my memories of my ex stepdad. What I remembered made me realize that I was unfortunately carrying a trauma coping mechanism from my time around him.

I realized that I had become an appeaser who placed everybody else way above me in terms of priorities.

Realizing this unfortunately led to the start of a debilitating existential crisis. It horrified me that I’d been wearing an appeasing mask for years after he’d left our lives. It put a hopeless lens on my future, and it felt so crushing. I wanted out, but I felt so trapped.

Here’s the Facebook post I wrote back then. It took some bravery to put this out there, because I knew it would alarm my loved ones.

At last, I had started to realize that I was dealing with depression, despite my denying it for years up ’til then.

It got worse. Well, for a moment.

April 9. Yowza.

Sorry in advance to any of my loved ones reading this, it’s likely to upset you.

Here’s the dream I had that morning:

I was Michael, the blonde boy from American Horror Story: Apocalypse. This was an alternate universe where he was living with Cordelia, the good witch who'd wanted to help him make the right decisions in the original plot.

Michael faced a motivational quote on the wall in front of him, likely left by Cordelia. In the middle of the night, the Devil malformed the words into a demonic text that terrified Michael. Unwittingly, he started to verbally speak those words, before he stopped in terror.

Cordelia appeared, and Michael told her, "It'd be better if I'd never been born."

"No!" she said to him, in a compassionate plea. "I'm not giving up on you!"

That day, it dawned on me that the dream wasn’t a bizarre twist on AHS. It was about me, about my mental state at that time.

I almost broke down sobbing on the sales floor. In that moment, I realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’d been hiding depression for at least 5 years. Hiding all of that was eating away at me.

I’m sorry to say that I was one step away from having suicidal thoughts, because of how emotionally terrified and overwhelmed I was.

Which makes this so heartwarming and spiritual:

“You would be dearly missed.”

Melissa, one of my amazing coworkers

What she said to me immediately made me cry, and I told her truthfully that she almost brought me to my knees with her timing. I could tell that it was God speaking through her to me, and those words stopped me from spiraling further down. God and Melissa stopped me from dealing with suicidal thoughts that day, and I’m forever grateful.

I’ve looked through my blog posts from that time, and I found out that one of my most hopeful dreams came to me that very night!

In summary, I was given a message that God was weeping with me at seeing how much pain I was in. He also (in the form of the dream character’s father) gave me uplifting words of encouragement, to behold the dawn rising triumphantly. He wasn’t kidding; the sunrise I saw in that dream was the most wondrous sunrise I’ve ever been blessed to see.

The best comparison I can offer, from one of my favorite family vacations!

I could tell that this dream heralded a big breakthrough for me, and I was right. I had the courage to ask my doctor for help, and with compassion, she prescribed me Wellbutrin for my depression. 8 months and counting, this stuff has been amazing with helping me fight off my depression, and be genuine about all of the baggage I’ve been carrying.

Will, My Angel

2021 was the year I discovered the power of the Eurythmics. Discovering their tragic song “Angel”, written in memory of Annie Lennox’s aunt, ended up being a key moment for me in May. May, which was ironically Mental Health Awareness Month!

Annie Lennox lost her aunt to suicide, and you can feel her heartache throughout this song. Listening to this brought up my own anguish over Will, an old school friend and classmate who took his life just a few months after we all graduated from high school.

So many of my deepest spiritual experiences somehow center around Will and my simultaneous love/grief for him. He was a good friend, and is still deeply missed.

I remember that on a Monday night in May, after watching this music video, I mused somberly that Will must know now in Heaven how much he’s missed here. Here’s part of the summary email I sent to my Mom about what happened next:

All of a sudden, Will came to my mind. I was doing completely fine, until this thought crossed my mind:

"Now he knows how deeply he is loved and missed."

In that instant, I believe God did something to allow me to feel everything Will felt. The intense grief I suddenly felt was out of the blue. Everything you saw me write on Facebook/the blog post was heavily inspired by the emotions that came over me. It had to have been God's will, because this has happened several times before, being bizarrely blindsided with intense emotions such as this, almost like God wants me to feel His own heartache as well.

He whispered to me the next day, at work, telling me "You broke My heart last night", referencing the tears I shed for Will, knowing now just how deep his depression and anguish ran before he took his life. Hearing God's voice, or "feeling" it, forced me to hide behind the rack I was working on, so that I could hide the burst of emotion it carried.

I got flashbacks to October 2016, when God cleverly used dreams and the testimonies of key saints to show me that Will found his peace on the other side, and that I'll see him again when my own time comes. I don't remember if I told you, but Will visited me in the middle of the night back then. He was kneeling by my bedside, wearing a look of shock and heartbreak after seeing how deeply I still care for him.

He knows, like they all must know on the other side in God's presence, that no matter what cruel lies their minds fed them, they were always loved, and will be forever cherished. They might've passed away, but our love for them will never die, because love is everlasting.

It’s when I’ve been grieving Will that I know for sure I’ve heard God whispering to me. Whispering in the sense of giving me gentle but powerful silent messages that echo in my soul, and encourage me to openly weep.

Oh, did I weep that day when I heard Him say to me, “You broke My heart last night.” It got to a point that my compassionate crew members and managers saw that at last, my emotional facade had finally faded away. They held me in a hug and encouraged me to let it all out.

I realized with this experience that while I’ll never fully understand how Will felt, after confronting my depression, I understand why he left us. Somebody mentioned that he’d been terrified for the future after his Mom moved to North Carolina, and didn’t know where he’d be. That terrifying crossroad is where I’ve been lately. While I’m not struggling with ideation, I know that Will and I are more similar in struggles than I ever knew.

On a heartwarming note, I’ll never forget this: when I was crying in front of my coworkers, one of the evening crew guys, Jason, showed up at 4 for his shift. Jason was an excellent jokester, and immediately set about making me laugh when he saw me.

“You can’t cry if I make you laugh!” he told me with his big grin.

Thank you Jason, always, for lifting me up that day.

Brotherly Love

A wood block of Saints Michael and Gabriel that I purchased from Etsy!

Throughout this year, my dreams have been filled with spiritual messages and visitors lifting me up in every way imaginable. 2021 has been the year I’ve bonded with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who revealed to me that she’s been guarding me against my depression, and against the unseen enemies who’d love to use my depression to torment me.

This year has also been a year of visions. And I mean that bluntly. Perhaps in part because my depression leads to me leaning on God more and more, I’ve seen momentary images that keep me going in my roughest patches. Visions of Mary holding me close in compassion, and surprise visits from my Heavenly big brothers: Saints Michael and Gabriel the Archangels.

(An old favorite dream blog post of mine showcasing what they’ve always done for me):

These two have been showing up in my dreams more and more over the last 5 years. With my depression finally rising to the surface, along with my despair over not knowing where the future will take me, they’ve been constant pillars of God’s love and protection in my life these last few months especially.

I’ve had several dreams of St. Michael hugging me close during my darkest nights. The one I cherish the most comes from the sad time 3 years ago, when we learned that my Grandpa Bowman was going to pass on.

One night in October 2018, after breaking down crying at work, I saw cobalt blue sparkles of light in my dark bedroom, which is a trademark herald of Michael’s presence. In my dream that night, after helping me dispose of a massive burden, he took me and held me closely, tussling my hair like a big brother would.

During one rough Friday at work this past Fall, I silently told God that I wished I could fall asleep in St. Michael’s arms. Hardly a moment later, I saw an image of him looking at me with a look of deepest compassion and pity. It looked like he was touched by what I’d told God in my weariness.

And oh, St. Gabriel…he helped me not give up hope during a nasty moment at work.

More and more, after finally telling my family about my job, I realize how abnormal and toxic some of the practices are here. In a thrift store of all places! When I placed a time-off request for two days in October, my store manager (a very loyal person to her employees) asked me what my reason was. She told me that she has to tell her boss, which I know now isn’t normal business procedure.

When I told her “mental health”, honestly, my boss grimaced and told me that she would “see what (I) can do.”

With that response, she confirmed that her boss, a Christian woman who told me that depression is simply the work of the Devil, doesn’t take mental health seriously. I went to the restroom and finally broke down crying after weeks of workplace stress.

The instant I did, I saw a vision of St. Gabriel holding me close in a hug, his eyes closed wearily, looking like he was about to cry with me. It was a potent reminder that I wasn’t alone.

Thankfully, I was cleared to take those days off. And the help I was given gave me the confidence needed to not tolerate any demeaning nonsense from up the chain. Which, unfortunately, is a recurring chronic issue here.

Keep Moving Forward!

God and the rest of my divine family has been amazing, helping me keep going despite the odds. And on top of that, I’ve been blessed with amazing family, friends and coworkers who always lift me up no matter what. I’m grateful for all of you, for your love and constant compassion.

It’ll be ok. I’ll be ok. I’m not as happy as I’d like to be, but I’m leagues better than where I was back in April.

I know that what me and my coworkers have dealt with here at our store won’t go without karmic repercussions. We’ll receive our justice for dealing with what other retail workers have suffered during this pandemic. This sucks, to be blunt, but I’m relieved that we have each other to lean on. May we each remember that being micromanaged, belittled and treated like kids is never God’s will.

Peace be with you all. I’m so glad this year’s almost over. May 2022 bring us all peace of mind, and the stability we need!