depression encouragement

Owning My Depression

10:53 AMHeather

The thought hit me like a lightning bolt, sparking a surprising glint of hope.

What if?

What if it’s really NOT normal to continually feel like you are chasing away a dark cloud? 

What if it’s really NOT normal to think you’re having a good day, and then find that the tiniest thing causes a flood of overwhelming emotions?

What if I don’t have to feel this way? What if I finally listen to that little nagging voice to talk to my doctor about what’s been happening?

And so I did. Not immediately, mind you. Because for a while, I assumed the lingering melancholy was connected to launching our oldest off to college, as well as other circumstances. 

I thought there was every reasonable explanation for feeling off —not quite myself. I rationalized it away and told myself to buck up.

But then, there was no tangible explanation as life settled down. Yet, I still felt the emotional unrest nipping at my heels, continually trying to outrun it, only to be overcome for the silliest of reasons, causing me to want to withdraw.

I finally made the appointment and talked to my doctor, who also happens to be a good friend of many years. He offered validation for my emotional state during a long conversation, and he offered kind reassurances and a carefully chosen prescription for medication for my anxiety and depression.

I am a social worker. I have degrees that included course work about chemical imbalances, genetic tendencies, and life stages that can all lead to mental health struggles. I would be the first one to tell someone that they should seek help. I myself have sought counseling at various times in life to gain coping skills through different situations.

Yet, I allowed myself to go through two years of talking myself into most social settings, and at times, declining to go out or if I did, sometimes leaving places quickly as tears sprung up. To be honest, people just didn’t feel safe. I didn’t trust myself around others. I think mostly because I didn’t want to unwind and appear as fragile as I felt at times.  I didn’t want others to see my mess. So I put on a happy face and tried to pretend as much as I could.

Honestly, I felt ashamed.

So, writing this all out and launching it out there is a bit scary. Some people think that if someone is dealing with depression, there is a weakness or complete lack of faith. Because joy is a fruit of the Spirit. 

Yet, I tell you, that in the midst of the last few years, I have never sat longer with my Bible or prayed more, or just rested in seeking God, sitting by myself in the chair in my room for long hours.

And still, the gloomy clouds swirled. 

Photo by Joy Stamp on Unsplash

I know there is a family history. I know that my age is bringing some changes in my hormones and that my years of mothering are transitioning to new seasons. 

I know that when someone needs help, they should never feel ashamed to seek it.

I finally sought it, and I am beginning to feel the lifting of the dark fog. I’m sharing this very personal place that I find myself because I think someone else needs to know that you are not alone. And I need to admit what's been happening with me, deep down, so that I quit letting the shame win by keeping me silent.

If you are beating back dark clouds, or find yourself overreacting emotionally, or feel like you are regularly talking yourself into coping, then talk to someone. Get help.

Because what if some medication and/or counseling could equip you to feel like yourself again? Sometimes, I think we don’t realize how unhealthy we are or have been until we feel good and right again.

I’m cheering you on if any of this resonates with you. I’m telling you that you are not alone, and you need not feel ashamed. We need to take the stigma out of mental health struggles. And if none of this sounds familiar, I guarantee you that someone you know and love is battling through some hard places. So wherever you find yourself, let's choose to be a safe place for others when they are falling.

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