The background story behind the song "Dead on the Inside" roots back to some conversations with Jesus about a very serious struggle in my life with depression. People who know me today might have a hard time believing that I once struggled, and was even diagnosed with chronic depression, but the truth is it controlled my life for many years.
It started as a young teenager when I became more "self-aware" and realized I was different than the other girls. Because of an accident I had as a kid I was missing a finger and it didn't seem to bother me until about the eighth grade.
I was in a school newspaper class where we would put together the school news and publish it every week or two. The kids in the school got to submit things like jokes, stories etc. then we would edit and print. I was not an editor so I never saw what was actually printed until it came out. Apparently, the teachers didn't either. In one edition in the section where you could send anonymous messages there was a note directed to, "The Four Fingered Freak". I actually don't remember the message, but I remember the title. I actually saved this paper in a keepsake box for many years.
That episode was the last of a series of "bullying" that directed my parents to remove me from school and try a new one. High school only got worse, and I don't want to go into all the details, but you could say these were some of the driving factors to the depression I struggled with. The first time I tried to hurt myself I was in the 10th grade, and I think I cut myself a dozen times that year. I was always afraid of suicide because I grew up Catholic and was told if you committed suicide you went to Hell, and as much as I hated the world I was in, my best fantasy of Hell was worse.
When I came to really know Jesus, at age 19, I thought the past was behind me and moved toward the bright future ahead. Throughout my Christian walk I continued to struggle with a deep sadness inside. As I grew, it seemed I just incurred more pain and sadness. I kept my mind focused on how hard it was for others in foreign nations and that I really had it easy, you know keep perspective! But something seemed deeply wrong when I found myself again at 30 years old still struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. I went to professional counseling for about 7 years, which helped alot, but still didn't seem to scratch the itch. In my mind I thought, "how can a God-fearing Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit, be this depressed??" I mean, where is the joy?
It wasn't until 2007 that my mind began to be healed and the deep sadness began to dissipate. One thing specifically that began my healing was when I experienced losing someone in my spiritual community to suicide in 2007. I prayed and prayed, I sat in the prayer room and asked Jesus for an answer. I had this strange unction to paint. I hadn't painted in years, but I felt like if I started to paint God would do something. So I began to paint this picture and faith arose in me that God could, and would heal mental illnesses, and that I would witness it!
There is much more to the story of my healing, the arts (2005-2010), the prayer room (2006-2010), the inner healing ministries I went to (2006-2012), and the focus and determination to get well including my diet (2009-present), all contributed.
So there I was, sitting and playing my guitar, recounting how God gave me vision, even in the midst of my darkness. There was a pile of ashes, but I looked closely into them and I saw a little ember, still red and hot. I said, "Lord, I'm not dead on the inside, though I look pretty awful on the outside, I know there is life, the light of men, inside me. Please come and blow on the embers of my heart." And He did. He gave me the strength to focus on the fire, and not the ashes. It took a lot of years, and even now it is taking alot of bravery to confess the years of struggle, but nothing compares to the freedom I have in Jesus now in my heart and mind.
Looking forward to sharing this song with you soon...
"Though the world takes toll on me, I don't have to be dead on the inside. Theres still a flame inside, if I can get my eyes on You, then everything will be o.k....."