I’m struggling. Struggling with my depression and anxiety.
I had been struggling for a really long time, but I didn’t realize that’s what it was, until I was diagnosed by my doctor almost two years ago. DING! A light bulb went off! I was relieved that I had a name to put to it, and that it wasn’t ‘just who I was’.
I was trying to manage it (as best I could, which in retrospect, wasn’t that well), but after a pretty traumatic, life-changing event, I fell even deeper. Deeper than I had ever been before. I felt like I lost everything. Like I was worthless. And I became very isolated. I shut everyone out. I was adamant that I didn’t want to go on medication, that I could do it myself. I tried everything under the sun – holistic treatments, natural remedies, therapy, self-care, exercise, nutrition…..etc. and after a year and a half of struggling really badly, and being as deep as ever in a ‘black hole’, I reluctantly went on medication. WOW! It was life changing! What a difference! I had energy, motivation, a vision for where I wanted to go, creativity…and most of all….I had FEELINGS! WHAT?! I know, crazy, right? I no longer felt numb and would no longer burst into tears at the slightest thought! (Please know I’m not trying to push meds on anyone. Everyone is different and we all need to figure out what works best for each of us. For me, this is what finally worked, though it may not be the answer for everyone who is struggling.)
For about 4 months, I was on a roll – I started the self-publishing process of my first children’s book (which I had actually written while in the depths of depression), started marketing it on social media, opened an Etsy shop for my artwork, started my website, written my first blog post and I was creating paintings and drawings like mad! I was full of energy and felt that I was knocking it out of the park everyday! I was EXCITED for where everything was going! I felt fantastic, better than I had since I can’t even remember when.
After about five months, things were going so well, that I decided to speak to my doctor about going off the meds. My husband and I are still (3 years later) trying for our second child, and the meds I was on are not compatible with pregnancy. I’m quickly climbing the hill to 40 (I’ll be there in April), and we have decided that we will call it quits if we are not expecting by my 40th, so the clock is ticking!
So, at the beginning of July, I started to wean myself off my meds, following my doctor’s instructions, and everything was going well. At the beginning of August, after a week or so of being completely off of them, I was still feeling great! Perfect!
Um, yeah. Not so much. Suddenly, everything went off the rails. Within a couple of days, I started to feel completely exhausted again, both mentally and physically. Because of that, my motivation was completely gone. I would make lists every morning of the things I really wanted to get done: write another blog post, update my website, edit, print, photograph and list some of my new artwork on my Etsy shop, make more art, start on my idea for my second book, post on social media, etc…..plus the regular, day to day stuff that had been so easy to tackle when I was feeling fantastic – clean the house, do a load of laundry, etc….but alas, those lists are still sitting on the counter, staring at me. (Don’t worry, with the help of my husband, the house is clean, and the laundry got done). Not being able to be productive and feel like I was accoplishing things, I really started to sink. I could literally feel myself slipping back down into a black hole. And it scared the crap out of me! Like almost overnight, I became irritable, irrational, and sad. Extremely sad. Beyond sad. Actually, sad isn’t even the right word for it, because it’s not a typical sadness like most people think. I think for me, it best described as becoming emotionless and hopeless.
So here we are – I’ve been especially struggling the last week or so. And my family is feeling it. And it sucks. My almost four year old asked me the other morning “Mommy, why are you mad? You look mad.” And here’s the thing – I was just making breakfast for him, I hadn’t even said anything. But he can see it in me. He can see it written all over my face. I wasn’t mad, but I guess my face must’ve been saying a lot more than I did. It absolutely broke my heart to hear him say this. It kills me that he can see that in me. I immediately did my best to get out of my own head and focus on him, and on not having ‘that look’ on my face. I had to be mindful of it all day, and everyday since, and it is exhausting.
It took everything in me today to get going, and even more to write this, but here it is. This is me in the raw. All of this is the reason I wrote the book Teddy the helpful ladybug. This is the reason I paint and draw and create. I have to remember that. It feels so good to do the things I love, but some days it’s just so much easier to sink into the couch and stare mindlessly at the television.
But guess what? I’m not going to let my depression and anxiety get the best of me this time. Last time, I wasted almost a year and a half in the solitary confinement of my own head. I would sit and let the thoughts get to me. I would let depression tell me I wasn’t good enough. I would let the anxiety make me feel so afraid that I was physically shaking. No more. I’ve decided that as of today, I’m telling my anxiety and depression to F*CK OFF! I’m not going to let it get the best of me anymore, or let it take any more of my precious days away from me. Now that I know how good it can feel to be mentally healthy, I want to get back there and I’m going to fight my hardest. I’m not giving up.
I’ve been really struggling with whether I should publically share this; I’m trying to do all these ‘great, happy, feel-good things’ and have been feeling pressured to keep an upbeat, positive persona on social media, and to portray that everything is all sunshine and rainbows. To pretend like everything comes from a bright, beautiful place; but that’s not the truth. Well, it’s not MY truth. It’s hard to share this when I’ve convinced myself that I can’t…afterall, I’m starting to promote a children’s book about love and kindness and being helpful. How does this fit that? I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter whether anyone else thinks it ‘fits into it’ or not. This is me, this is who I am, this is what I’ve been through…this is my truth. This is where all my creativity comes from.
I decided today that I’m fighting back. I’m putting myself out there. I’m going for it.
I decided today that I wanted to share this to be able to just stop hiding, and stop pretending that everything is perfect. I wanted to just be open and honest. I know what it’s like to think that you are all alone and to believe that no one understands or even cares, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that. You are not alone. There is help, whatever it may look like, and there are people that love you and will cheer you on. Even though most days it doesn’t seem like it, there are lots of ‘Teddy the helpful ladybug’s’ out there – those who want to love, help and encourage you. Those that want to lift you back up when you can’t do it yourself.
I’m also sharing this for myself. I wrote this so on the days I feel like sinking back into my black hole, I can come back here and read this. No more hiding, and trying to become invisible.
In the words of Levi Lusko, from today on, I’m going to “Run towards the Roar.” (Special thanks to the wonderfully inspiring Jessica Janzen Olstad for introducing me to this quote!)
I hope in the future to be sharing more ‘happy’ posts, but today is just not that day.