Depression is something I’ve had many different views on throughout my life. I remember when I was just getting into my high school years, I bought a shirt that said: “Jesus is my anti-depressant”.
By the end of my high school career, my Dr was diagnosing me with depression & prescribing me Zoloft. I remember describing how I felt after being on the med for a short time: “It’s like for the first time, people can see who I’ve felt like I’ve always been on the inside.”
The next decade involved me taking medicine for a year or so at a time, then taking a year or two off. Having a baby, being hit hard with postpartum depression. Getting back on meds. Having bad reactions to medicines. Therapy that didn’t work. Therapy that did. Loss. Grief. Highs. Lows. Feeling purpose. & then feeling utterly lost & overlooked.
Mental health is no joke.
You are constantly telling yourself that:
- you’re overreacting
- you are too lazy to take control of your mind
- if your faith was just stronger the devil wouldn’t win so many of the battles in your head.
- you’re crazy
- you should just snap out of it
- you should stop trying to get attention
- others don’t struggle as much as you, so just stop
Then the pendulum swings.
You admit that you have difficulty with mental health. That sometimes life sucks & your depression/anxiety make it feel ten times heavier. You accept that you need to send a follow-up text after conversations to verify that there were no misunderstandings because you know that you will overthink it even more if you don’t. You know that you need to work on it. You know that you are working on it. You also know that you aren’t there today & that’s okay. You are bold & vulnerable.
There are plenty of theories on what’s best to treat mental health issues, but what works for you may not for others & you tell yourself THAT’S OKAY!
I lost our baby at ten weeks. It hit me hard. & like grief does, it stirred up the other hurts that I’ve worked hard to heal from. I’d been posting affirmation posts. I’d been posting inspirational quotes. I’d been podcasting about how to keep moving through difficult times.
My loss, made me feel like I was a child being told to sit down & shut up. It made me feel like all my self-care, mental health, healing progress, & all the positivity I was sharing with others was lost. That all the friendships & relationships I’d poured into were now destined to fail & fall away because I didn’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone.
Soooo I dragged myself back to counseling & I spoke with my doctor about my meds to confirm a dose that would be helpful for me while I navigated all this trauma & grief.
As I sat there with my therapist, I said: “I just feel like, I’ve had a whole month to be sad & to process & now I need to get it together.” She replied: “that’s not how it works.”
I’m not struggling with depression because I’m some overly emotional, attention hungry, weak minded, person. I struggle with depression because of the chemicals my body produces & doesn’t produce.
I am NOT saying that I’m helpless or hopeless.
I am NOT saying that I’m “off the hook” & no longer have any responsibility to work through my emotions & diagnosis.
But I often feel the need to first defend the fact that I have a valid issue, before feeling released to do the hard work necessary to stay on top of my self-care & keep in a good headspace. It is a lot of freaking work! Having to prove the validity of my condition to others & sometimes myself, only makes my journey that more daunting.
So when I hear my therapist tell me “that’s not how it works” although it’s completely frustrating, it’s also a relief.
When I sat in my OB’s office after losing Hadassah & the trip to the ER right after, she asked me if I had any questions. Without even thinking about it, I said: “I guess I just have to ask…this wasn’t my fault, right?” I knew she’d say no & she did. But I needed to hear it. Tears immediately started to stream down my face as the question left my lips.
Medical professionals that I trust told me: This is not your fault. You are not depressed because of YOU. You did not lose your baby because of YOU. There is no amount of “work” you can do to get out of this grief process in a day…or even 30.
Then they inserted some hope.
By pointing out all the things that I was doing. Things that didn’t seem remarkable or even worth pointing out. But when dealing with depression & grief these things DO matter! The process through grief & trauma isn’t fast moving, but I was still moving forward.
What were the things I was doing?
I did a load of dishes.
I did a load of laundry.
I took a shower.
I gave the kids baths.
I made sure everyone was fed.
I made sure my oldest was getting to & from school.
I sat at the table & played Go Fish with my kids.
I take my medicine consistently.
I’ve been making myself eat at least one meal a day.
I broke out my coloring books & permanent markers.
I listen to music that soothes me.
I reached out to people even though I wanted to be alone.
These things aren’t anything extraordinary. I get that. I’m not trying to get a gold sticker or applause. What I am trying to say, is that these are things that I’ve had to purpose myself to do. They are small things that drain me of my energy. But as she graciously pointed out, doing these things is me “doing” something.
This is me not giving up.
This is me not throwing myself a pity party.
This is me refusing to be consumed by sadness.
This is me deciding that my kids need good memories of me, even when I’m hurting.
This is me trying my best when inside I’m so broken.
So today I take off the coat of expectations & pressure that I’ve continued to wear over & over again. I allow myself to breathe & know that every day matters. Painful or joy-filled. I am loved & valuable no matter what.
I choose to keep moving forward, to keep trying my best, & focus on hope.
The Mess in Me Honors the Mess in You
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