Freed from anxiety and suicidal depression
For many years I struggled with suicidal depression, intense anxiety, and low self-esteem. I ached to understand who I was. I grew up attending Christian Science Sunday School, but I wrestled with questions like “Why did God make me who I am?” “Who really loves me?” “Who notices me and cares that I’m taking up space?”
I had so many questions, but I struggled to fully embrace what I’d learned in Christian Science, because most of what I’d read in the Bible and in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, was about God. I didn’t want to know any more about God. I wanted to know about my own identity, and that felt completely disconnected from what I had grown up hearing about how God created all of us—that we are good and He loves us.
I often had breakdowns in which I would spiral, cry, and feel so deeply unhappy. Frequently, these would lead to me texting a friend, seeking validation. It was embarrassing to ask friends what they thought of me, and I’d never really believe their kind words anyway. Rather than finding encouragement, I would come away from these exchanges feeling even more restless and unhappy.
One day, I began spiraling yet again. As I cried, names of friends I could reach out to came to mind, but I didn’t want to bother them with these old thoughts and feelings. Instead, I texted my brother: “Do you think I’m a waste of space and time?”
“Look up the definition of man in Science and Health,” my brother texted back. “That’s who you are.”
I was annoyed that he hadn’t told me I was special, impressive, or something else of that nature. In a rage, I grabbed what I thought was a random copy of Science and Health and tore the book open to the Glossary, where I read this spiritual definition: “Man. The compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind” (p. 591).
This was the opposite of what I wanted to hear, and I slammed down the book, dizzy with anger and sadness.
But as frustrated as I was, I realized that I had asked my brother for help, and this was what he’d suggested. So, reluctantly, I picked up the book again and studied the passage. As I did, I noticed that this particular copy had five colored tabs in it. I pulled at one of them and opened to a highlighted passage: “Man’s spiritual individuality is never wrong” (p. 491).
I texted my brother: “Do you think I’m a waste of space and time?”
I felt myself relax a little, and after I read that sentence again, the gut-wrenching ache for a deeper understanding of my identity subsided. The rage-filled tears I had cried faded to tears of relief and awe. This one sentence was what I had wanted to hear for so long. I’d wanted to know that I was unique, but also that I could fit in—not into the world’s view of who I should be, but into my own individuality. I’d wanted to be at peace with myself.
Everything inside me got really quiet, and I read the rest of the paragraph. Then I looked at the other marked passages. Each one I read dug deeper into the concept of identity as spiritual, whole, and good. I flipped through these highlighted passages for a while. As I did, I caught a glimpse of a sticker on the inside cover. On it was my name written in my old elementary school handwriting.
It dawned on me that I had used this copy of Science and Health as a young Sunday School student, carefully marking these passages with the help of my Sunday School teacher. Now, almost 18 years later, I was rediscovering these ideas with a deeper understanding of their meaning and their true power.
Suddenly I heard a voice echo inside me: “Get your computer! Type this out now!”
Soon I had written out a divinely inspired “identity contract” based on the highlighted texts. It was like an agreement with myself affirming that I was enough because of the way God created me.
Each passage was significant, but the one that spoke to me the most begins with the sentence quoted earlier, “Man’s spiritual individuality is never wrong,” and continues, “It is the likeness of man’s Maker. Matter cannot connect mortals with the true origin and facts of being, in which all must end. It is only by acknowledging the supremacy of Spirit, which annuls the claims of matter, that mortals can lay off mortality and find the indissoluble spiritual link which establishes man forever in the divine likeness, inseparable from his creator.”
As I wrote out this spiritual “contract” for myself, I realized I was discovering the foundational truth that we can never be separated from the divine source of our identity, God—no matter how much we struggle with our sense of God or fight the idea of our oneness with Him. Since this document ended with the definition of God from the Glossary in Science and Health, I was able to see that since God is limitless action and being and I am the reflection of God, my creator, I must also express limitless being.
Whereas before I didn’t get how learning about God could help with my own sense of identity, now I understood that God is the foundation of all that I am. And I could see that all the negative thoughts that had told me I was unworthy, didn’t belong, shouldn’t exist, and so on, weren’t legitimate, so I could reject them.
I’d learned growing up that I could say no to these kinds of thoughts, but this had been a difficult concept for me to grasp. I’d felt so bombarded by the depression and anxiety that shoving these feelings aside and saying, “No, this is not who I am!” felt too hard. But now I was realizing that I am—we all are—spiritual beings: good, worthy, loved. So anything that’s negative doesn’t come from God, so it doesn’t have anything to do with us, and on that basis we’re empowered to say no to it.
Whereas before I didn’t get how learning about God could help with my own sense of identity, now I understood that God is the foundation of all that I am.
Since this experience, I’ve found that writing about my spiritual insights has become a profound healing tool for me, allowing me to connect and engage with whatever spiritual text I study. I no longer struggle with suicidal depression, gripping anxiety, or a lack of self-worth, because I feel close to God, and this allows me to freely express all that I am. And each time I return to my original document on identity, it’s a powerful reminder that my spiritual individuality is never wrong, never lost, and that I’m always in my right place.