Originally Published: March 22, 2020
Revised: January 22, 2021
There’s a song by Ozzy Osbourne with a line in the chorus that goes, “I’m going off the rails on a crazy train.” For about a year and a half, I felt like this song described my life. I was stuck on a crazy train of anxiety and depression and the train was barreling along the tracks towards a deep ravine without a train bridge.
There’s a scene exactly like this in the 1990 film Back to the Future Part III when Doc and Marty, who are stranded in 1885, convert a steam engine into a time machine that will take them back home to the future.
Unfortunately for me, the crazy train I was riding on was not a time machine that would allow me to skip the current events in my life and move on to something better.
When I first stepped aboard the steam-powered crazy train over four years ago, things weren’t too bad at first. I underwent some stressful situations and occasionally had a panic attack. But then things would resume rolling smoothly along the tracks with a few bumps here and there, which I knew was normal.
Somewhere along the way, however, the stressful situations began to come more often and then the panic attacks would follow. The ride became bumpier and bumpier as I trundled along the tracks.
Several friends and colleagues recognized that I was on a path to destruction and sent me warning signals to get off the crazy train while I still could. Of course, I ignored them because I didn’t believe that anxiety and depression could happen to me; after all, I was strong and could overcome this on my own.
Before I knew it, however, the fire inside the steam engine continued to be stoked hotter with more fuel and the crazy train began to speed up. The more fuel that was added to the fire, the faster the engine went and the bumpier the ride became. Soon, I was being jostled back and forth, tossed out of my bed and plagued by shallow sleep and terrifying nightmares.
This particular steam-powered crazy train I was riding had been outfitted with sprinklers on the roof that were activated when the engine began to overheat. The waterworks began, drenching me with tears of despair, and they wouldn’t shut off. I could no longer laugh or find joy. The cold water running down my body kept me in a constant state of aches and tension, and I found that I could no longer rest or relax at the end of the day.
As the train’s engine continued to overheat, the water from the sprinklers began to turn into steam, fogging my vision and clouding my mind. I became unable to focus or form coherent thoughts, and I stumbled around through the haze like a zombie drunk on misfortune.
Then one day in November 2018, I looked out the window and saw a flashing sign that announced, “End of Line: 2 km.” That’s when I saw the ravine up ahead with no way to get across. I knew if I couldn’t stop the train, it would plunge off the tracks to destruction.
In real life, this “End of Line” sign came in the form of a transit bus running a red light at full speed that I nearly stepped in front of on my way to work. I didn’t almost step in front of the bus because I wanted to end my life; I simply didn’t see it through the fog clouding my vision.
That day was the first time I finally acknowledged something was wrong and I couldn’t fix it by myself. So I started the process of trying to stop the train. I booked a doctor’s appointment and told my doctor everything I was feeling. She prescribed me some medication, wrote a note excusing me from work for two weeks, and ordered me to go for counselling.
Unfortunately, even though I burst into the engine room and pulled the lever to activate the breaks, the train began to slow to a steadier pace but it didn’t change the fact that it was still headed towards the ravine that was less than a kilometre away.
I rode the train a little bit longer, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t be able to stop in time before plunging into the ravine. So I did the only other thing I could think of: I closed my eyes and jumped. I left my job, sold my house and furniture, and decided to start over from the beginning.
When I jumped off the train nearly a year ago to this day, I prayed that I would land in a soft patch of grass at the side of the tracks so that I wouldn’t sustain any more serious injuries. I had no other choice but to trust that God, my loving Heavenly Father, would catch me and carry me for a while.
And He has. He has given my husband and me a temporary, inexpensive place to live so that I can have the time I need to recover from the nightmare ride on the crazy train and get back on the right track—one that is designed only for me and the purpose God has called me for.
Had I continued on the same destructive track I had been following before, I would have plunged over the edge and, metaphorically-speaking, met a fiery death at the bottom of the ravine. In reality, I don’t know what plunging over the edge would have looked like in my situation, but things were already bad enough that I didn’t want to find out how much worse it could have been.
It has been a year since I jumped off the crazy train and I can tell you that it has been the best decision of my life. Yes, I sustained some bruises and sprained my ankle from the fall, but I didn’t break apart when I decided to give up everything and start anew.
I’m still miles away from the nearest town, but I know my mind and body will recover as I head back towards healing and restoration. In the meantime, I will continue to rest in my Father’s arms as he carries me along the way.
For some people, jumping off the crazy train is the most illogical, and even impossible, thing to do, and not everyone is in a position to do this. For those who can’t jump, the first steps you can take to stop the train are:
- Admit that something isn’t right, and
- Seek and accept the help that you need to get better.
Until you take these first two steps, the train will to continue to speed along the tracks towards destruction. Don’t wait until that happens. Talk to someone today.
You are not alone.
You. Are. Loved.
I hope you find love, hope and peace in these words.