WARNING: This post is going to be real, messy, honest.
A friend of mine recently sent me this blog post. It describes how I'm feeling perfectly.
Recently, I've been struggling with depression. Well, I've had depression since my daughter was born in 2013 - which I have been treating, however it seems to have crept up and become less manageable recently.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because I want to be real. Because I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, especially as a mom. Many moms go around in a haze and are torn up and yet they put on their smiles and fake it till they make it. I'm not so great at that. I am a decent actress, but I don't want to be fake with those I love and care about. I'm hoping if you are in this place too, this post may give you peace in knowing you aren't alone and maybe encourage you to get help.
Let me back this train up a bit:
Since my dad died in 2006, I have become pretty self-aware of how I am feeling and if I'm in a healthy place. At that time, I had family and friends plead with me to get help, so I did. I went on an antidepressant for a bit until I felt "normal" again. I remember before I started taking the antidepressant, I cried to my doctor "I don't want to be medicated. I want to just be ok." At that time he taught me a valuable lesson. He said "If you broke your arm, would you refuse to get help? To get it bandaged up so it could heal? Of course you wouldn't. This is a temporary thing. It's like a splint." And you know what? It was. I used it for about 6 months and was able to breathe - which may seem a bit extreme, but it was real.
Right now, I'm not in a healthy place. I'm not enjoying the time I have with my kids. My husband. My friends. My family. I'm stressed. Tired. Discontent and unsatisfied. These are not normal traits for me - and they are quite disheartening.
I'm already taking my antidepressant. I don't want to increase it if it's unnecessary. I want to be healthy and happy. I want to feel grateful each and every day for the time that I have with my kids, because I know that the days are long but the years are short. I know that others are having a much harder time in life than I am right now, but that doesn't negate the way I feel. No matter how much I tell myself these things, it hasn't stopped me from feeling this way.
When I spoke with my counselor this last week, she and I came up with some goals to see if I could improve my mental state without increasing my medication.
Ok...deep breath. Here's my plan (in no particular order):
1. Positive self talk.
I have found myself beating myself over EVERYTHING recently. "You are being ridiculous" "If you didn't have babies, your body would still look decent. Too bad you are gaining weight." "That outfit looks horrid. No point in buying new stuff though. You're just frumpy." "YOU chose this life. You can't be upset with anybody but yourself. You wanted this." Thank you, voice inside my head, but I believe I am going to turn off your negative speak now. I refuse to listen to you bad mouth me anymore. Whenever the ugly words come into my mind, I will replace them with things like "What a miracle you are!" "You may not have the best body, but you can move and run and you are worth healthy eating" "You did choose this life, because what an awesome privilege it is to get to raise your babies and be home for your husband and yourself."
2. Put forth some effort to make myself feel good.
Why? Because I feel better when I have makeup on and put on something other than sweats that looks decent on me. Despite that, this is a real struggle for me recently. After I decided this would be one of my goals, my husband came home from work and said "wow, you are wearing eye makeup today! How come?" I used to wear makeup all the time, but recently I haven't had the energy, the desire, the will to do it. So, it's on my list. And since I've started doing that, I feel more confident. I don't feel awful when I look in the mirror.
3. Exercise and eat right.
Oy. This is the one that is the hardest right now. Because one of my problems is my body right now, and I am working out, I know that it's because I'm not eating right. I know how to eat right, I've just been choosing not to. My weakness recently has been cinnamon bears. I love those little guys. So delicious. I hide them on top of the fridge so the kids don't ask for them and whenever I have a bad day, I eat some. Well, when your bad days are every single day, you gotta find a different outlet. Besides, there is no way that those will help me feel better. Ever. In the long run, the best thing I can do is eat the stuff that will fuel my body and build me up into being the best version of myself possible - at least physically. Thankfully, my husband knows this to be one of my goals, so he has kindly removed the cinnamon bears to a place where I will not be searching frantically for them (i.e., the garbage). I'm looking forward to the progress I will make by eating right and exercising.
4. I will take breaks. Do something for me.
"Child, I JUST NEED A BREAK. GIVE ME FIVE MINUTES!" Those words may or may not have come out of my mouth far more frequently than I'd like to admit recently. So, I will be getting my break. As I type this, my children are being cared for by a lovely young lady from our church so that I could have some time to myself. She is watching them at her house so I can have my house to myself. It's glorious. First thing I did when I dropped them off: take a nap. Not even noon and I didn't care. It, again, was glorious. I know so many people who say they wouldn't want their kids anywhere else but with them, and I commend them, but I am not one of those people right now. I was before my daughter was born, but since she's been here life has been harder - more fun, undoubtably, but harder - and I need to take care of me too so that my kids and my husband will have me present. I adore my children and I don't want them to see me angry. My son has been saying "Mommy, I love you" recently, to which I reply "I love you too, sweetheart" and he answers back with "Don't be angry, ok??" There's no reason for it. He just sees me upset. I don't want that. I don't want him and my daughter to know me as a tyrant. I want them to know me as a mom that adores them and gets help when she needs it. Because that's what I want for them. I want them to be healthy and to get help when they need it, even as adults.
5. Regular Bible Study & Prayer Time.
During the school year, I am a part of Community Bible Study, which is fantastic - but summer comes and I fall flat on my plans for such things. So, I am helping to lead a home group Bible Study and am leaning in on the Lord, always - but especially during this time.
6. Do what is necessary.
I tend to pile on the activities. Always. I am always busy. Because of that, I am often overwhelmed with tasks. If it's not necessary, I'm not necessarily going to do it. If it makes me feel better, I still will.
7. Get organized.
Wait...didn't you just say you were only going to do things that are necessary? Yes. And this is one of those things for me. Clutter stresses me out. And my house is cluttered. I need to clear out the clutter so I can clear my mind a bit more. This will help me. In fact, I'm reading a book right now called "Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Night's Sleep." One of the sections in the book talks about clutter being a stressor. I whole-heartedly believe that, so this is going to be on my list of things to do.
8. Continue to monitor mood/emotional state. Continue with medication and therapy.
Eek. This just got real. If these things don't go the way I want, I will be upping my medication. However, since I've been doing these things, I've already been feeling a bit better. Also, my therapy appointments are golden. I adore the time I have to just talk and talk and talk to my counselor the words I am feeling. Someone once told me "Ok, I think you've been doing counseling enough, I'm sure it's a bit overkill. Nobody needs counseling for that long. Maybe you need to stop being so needy." (That was paraphrased quite a bit). To which I respond, I have had seasons where I've gone longer in between appointments and just go in for "tune-up" so-to-speak, but it's making a difference. God is using my counselor to help me to become the best possible version of myself. And I will go weekly until that's not needed, and then I'll go bi-weekly, and then maybe monthly - or maybe I'll be able to just stop. But for today, I will be ok with meeting with her once a week.
There are other goals that I have, but these are the main ones. And if I succeed with just one of them today, I am alright. I don't need to hit the mark on all of them all the time, but I do need to do each of them in order to begin to fix up this mess in my head.
Two other things I'd like to mention.
1) I want to apologize to my friends and family. I know that I haven't been the most pleasant person to be around. Or, I've been altogether not around. If you feel like I have flaked out on you or have been avoiding you or just not around, you are right. And I am sorry. The effort that I need to put forth with even my closest friends comes hour by hour. That being said, I hope none of my friends take offense to this. You are precious to me. It has nothing to do with you making me feel like I have to work around you - it's the place I'm in right now. It's me.
2) This kinda goes with the last one, actually. When I've mentioned to people that I'm feeling this way, many of them have asked me to go out with them. I appreciate it so much. But, I am also sharing so you know that it's not personal. It's where I am. What I'd rather do is be alone for a few hours. Just by myself. (If you know me, you know how very absurd that sounds). So, if I haven't spoken of this much, that's why. It makes the heaviness come out in a way that I don't want. I don't want my friends to see me like this - not because of how they would feel - because I have some AMAZING friends that I know support me, but how I feel.
If you are in this place with me. Please know you are not alone. And if you wish, join me on this journey and we can support each other - via text or email because I'm not getting together with people right now. HAHA!
One last thing I'd like to add:
In the midst of this, God is giving me joy. He's giving me joy with my life. I have healthy, vibrant, loving, energetic, funny kids, an amazing, supportive, kind, loving, compassionate, faithful husband, a fantastic family and wonderful friends. I have a body that works and moves and lets me run and jump and play and swim. I have the funds to do extra-curricular activities with my family. God is good all the time. PLUS, I have the awesome gift of knowing that Christ died for my sins and came back to life!!! What a huge miracle and blessing. He did that for me. I can praise him in this storm - no matter what.