Blogging. I always want to write about what inspires. I want to share my recipes and other creative ideas with you. But today, my writing comes from a different place. Certain circumstances (including weather..i just hate heat) along with my inherited tendencies, have landed me in the midst of depression this summer. Ever heard of anyone who gets seasonal depression in the summer? It’s usually winter, right? Well, I’m the opposite. I hate summer. In May, I could even feel it coming and sure enough, it has been difficult. I believe that we are not meant to do life alone…that together we can accomplish more and pull through more than we can solo. So today, I’m sharing my struggles with depression and my proactive plan with anyone who might need to read this right now.
Depression. Such a misunderstood word. Some may think it just means you’re sad all the time. There is no way to know what it is really like until you have experienced it for yourself. After my son was born, I had postpartum depression and that was my first experience of it. I’ve struggled off and on with it in the years since that time. You can feel it physically in your body. It hurts. All your limbs feel heavy and sometimes your skin crawls in a restless way. Thoughts are jumbled and small tasks seem overwhelming and exhausting. Making decisions is hard and anxiety comes in waves. You just want to lie down, wrap a blanket around yourself and hug something to your chest so you don’t float away like the red balloon in the photo. Feeling sad can be part of it, but that is not the most prominent symptom.
My kids. I love them. I’m thankful to have them. I understand the heartbreak that people must feel when they are unable to have children. But it is just. not. easy. to raise kids. I don’t want to say too much on that topic because it can be such a sensitive thing for some. But I think most parents can agree that it is constantly on your mind, whether or not you are doing it right. This can be a source of major stress, anxiety and exhaustion.
Lifestyle. I’m usually an upbeat, positive and energetic person. I am a fitness instructor, so I’m accustomed to feeling great, being excited about a healthy lifestyle and coaching others on their fitness journeys. Exercising is my favorite thing to do and really the only time I feel normal these days is when I am doing that. It is difficult all the other hours of the day though to have little to no energy. I go in the kitchen and brew another pot of coffee, hoping to feel something, anything…that spark that’s always come so easily…that excitement about life. I can’t find it.
Proactive plan. I do remember something that helped pull me out of the darkness when I had postpartum. A wise cousin of mine told me to figure out three things that were important to me to get done in a day. Even if I couldn’t do anything else, just do those three things. At the time, my three tasks were: read the Bible, exercise, and clean the kitchen. Actually, this time around, those are still my three choices. What are your’s?
As for the scattered and overwhelming thoughts, it really helps me to make a list. As I think of things that I need to get done in a day, I write it down and then check each task off after I do it. That may sound very basic but there is something about physically checking off the tasks that is comforting. List-making also helps me stick with a task until it is finished. I highly recommend it.
Empower. There is power in any life struggle. We gain perspective through struggles and realize what human pain feels like. It gives us compassion for others. We can be open about what we are walking through and support those who are in a similar situation. Even though it hurts, I’m thankful to be going through this right now. What a crazy thing to say, right? I’m thankful for the power depression gives me to relate to others. I know that depression makes you draw inward and become self-absorbed. That is why I write about it. To get it out there. To reach outside of myself to someone else who might be struggling. I want you to know you’re not alone. This is a real thing and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Get help. If you want to talk with me, don’t hesitate to contact me. Together, we can pull through this.