The summer of 2006 was the most memorable one of my life. My mom, younger brother, and I took a weeklong trip down to the quaint little town of Wesley Chapel, Florida, which lies right outside Tampa. I had never been before, but wasn’t remarkably excited when I heard that we were going down there.
A thirteen hour car ride didn’t seem at all entertaining to me.Just before the trip in early May I was discharged from a psychiatric hospital because I had suffered a major depressive episode. After that diagnosis my little world was turned upside down on my head. I had always been the normal and sane one of my friends, the one keeping others stable; but the summer of 2006 found me trying desperately to find an ounce of stability in my distraught mind.We were taking the trip down there to visit my great aunt and her husband, whose kids were grown and had just left the house.
I didn’t know either one of them very well, and I worried that they would judge me because I had just been hospitalized for a mental illness.I couldn’t have been more wrong. That trip was exactly what brought me that ounce of stability that I desperately yearned for that summer. My aunt was so gracious and welcoming, and she encouraged me to talk to her about what had happened to me.
She wasn’t scared of me, and I knew that she genuinely cared and wasn’t judging me, as I felt that so many people did when I had to talk about my problems. I credit her for bringing me closer to God that summer. After our talks I would go and sit in her pool outside and just think.
I would talk to God about my terrible sadness, and how I felt so guilty that it wasn’t going away. I knew that I had a good life compared to so many others, but I couldn’t help wanting to die.Each night after we talked I would go outside; every single night. Florida is always warm, and when I would talk to God I felt like I had a warm blanket over me; the kind that makes you feel less vulnerable, similar to the one I carried around in my youth.
I would gaze up at the stars with my feet in the pool water, and I knew that I was not alone. I felt human again. I felt inherent happiness out there that I didn’t think I had in me anymore.
I just needed someone to care about me enough to coax it out of me.After we left my aunt and I have kept in close touch, and my family went down there for spring break last spring. The summer of 2006 taught me how lives within a family are delicately interwoven; each member has an awesome impact on their relatives. My aunt taught me the value of genuine understanding and God, and I have become a stronger and wiser person for it.
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