Anxious, irritable, tired all the time, overwhelmed, discouraged, frustrated with your children. Does that sound like something you can relate to? It described me to a “T” not too long ago. I’m going to get a little personal here and share my journey of depression.
Active, beautiful children, a fantastic, supportive husband, active in the community, and a full schedule of activities, a relatively healthy diet, and a daily exercise routine... it seemed I was doing everything right, yet I felt like something was just off, and it had been that way for a while. Was it just my new norm, the way I was supposed to feel? I mean, I was in the middle of raising 5 kids, arranging their different schedules and activities, running a home, and trying to seem somewhat put-together. That’s enough to drive anyone crazy, right?!
These feelings seemed to come and go. I first noticed it around the birth of my babies and I would experience so much anxiety with large crowds, public places, and germs. With my last baby, nearly 4 years ago, most of those thoughts just never went away. Of course, I attributed it to lack of sleep… but then the self-doubt, the guilt, the sadness, and the questioning started rolling in stronger than before, and just didn’t leave. I’d find myself shrugging the kids off more often, yelling at my husband, nearly wishing my seemingly perfect life away.
So where was I to turn to? A recent happenstance call to my O.B. doctor led to some hormone testing as well as the confession that I felt as though I was drowning. That the tightness in my chest I constantly felt and sleepless nights were taking their toll. I needed help. And admitting it out loud for the first time was so much harder than I could have imagined, all sorts of feelings of being ashamed and embarrassed soon flooded my mind. To which my kind doctor said, that is the exact thing we needed to get to the bottom of. Anti-depressants/anxiety meds have such a negative connotation to them and I didn’t want to become “another statistic”. But the idea of, as she worded it “help keep the little things little” was nearly music to my ears and brought tears to my eyes. How my soul was craving that peace.
**Now my situation is not yours, nor am I in any position to hand out medical advice, and of course, I urge you to speak to your doctor before making any changes! This is only my story in hopes that someone out there can relate and feel heard.
Fast forward a few months. While together with some friends a while back, I disclosed some of my continual struggles. To my honest surprise, I wasn’t the only one. In fact, nearly half of us were dealing with something. These are friends that I have admired for years, their poise, parenting styles, and patience are all something I envied them for… yet they too shared some of my same concerns, trials, and anxieties. What a relief and comfort I immediately felt. As we discussed our worries, I couldn’t help but feel so much love for them and an increased admiration. We women have a dang tough job. The more empathy, support, and love we can show towards each other, the better!
How are things now you might be wondering? It’s the little things I live for. Service: including acting on an impression to reach out to someone else. Positive affirmations: I’ve set my computer password to “iamawesome”. I make a conscious effort to smile at myself every time I pass a mirror. Connection: Really listening to my children when they want to share something with me and reaching for my husband's hand when I least want, but know I most need his help. Mediation: Waking early to enjoy some quiet time and the sunrise. Watering my flowers and taking my body for a run. All of these, though seemingly small and maybe a bit cheesy, are ways that I’ve learned to love myself all over again. It’s a conscious decision I get to make every single day.