I have walked hand-in-hand with depression for as long as I can remember. Even when I was a child, I could feel an aching in my heart that I did not have the words to explain. It’s like an old friend, a t-shirt washed and worn so many times that the letters have slowly faded away. I can feel it when it’s near, it never strays too far. It is the crusher of my creativity and the killer of my joy. It’s as much a part of me as the peace and happiness that I desire.
It’s difficult to explain depression to someone that has never dealt with it. It’s not something that you can control. There’s no convenient off switch. There isn’t always a reason, and sometimes there are all kinds of reasons. It can creep up on you slowly, or take your breathe away. It will whisper lies and put you down. Sometimes I feel everything, and other times I feel nothing at all. Sleep is a friend of depression. Sleep is a time when my thoughts are not so scrambled and my heart doesn’t hurt so much.
When I was a teenager, my depression got bad. Social anxiety made it worse. When I got around groups of people, I felt uncomfortable. I got awkward. I never knew what to do or say. I was so afraid that they wouldn’t like me. That they wouldn’t see who I truly was. I usually ended up saying something ridiculous and then beating myself up over it. I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt like I was crazy. Why couldn’t I just be normal like everyone else?
I just want to feel like myself.
When both of my boys were born, I had severe post-natal depression. After Hudson was born, I tried so hard to be the perfect mom. Not realizing, that did not exist. I exhausted myself to a point where I was angry and frustrated a lot of the time. But, I had this wonderful, adorable little human that I loved with every ounce of me. So maybe, just maybe, I could put on a smile and pretend that everything was fine. Then came Logan, my depression in the weeks after having him was the worst it had ever been in my life. I was so angry and defeated all of the time, and I had no idea why. I wanted so badly to be happy. To be thankful, strong, and kind. I looked at my boys and I knew that something had to change.
For the last fifteen months I have been on an antidepressant. I mean it when I say that this has been one of the best things that I ever did for myself. My good days far outweigh my bad. For so long, I fought going to see a doctor for fear of being put on medication. I did not want to admit that there was something wrong with me. I did not like the words clinical depression, but the reality is, I cannot change the fact that I have depression anymore than someone can change the fact that they have allergies or cancer. Realizing this was a giant step in the right direction for the healing of my heart and mind. I am learning to love myself, to see myself as an imperfect woman loved deeply by a perfect God.
But, sometimes the days are hard and the medicine is not enough.
This time of year, when the leaves start to fall and the air turns cold, it has always been hard for me. I feel myself start to clam up. All I want to do is stay at home. To sleep. I just want to be alone. I feel like all I do is give to my children and there is nothing left of me to give. I look forward to naps and bedtime so that I can have some peace and quiet. Yet when they are asleep, I find myself missing them and wishing I had not wished our time away. I go to bed and in the morning I am awoken by their cries and it starts all over again. I feel as though I am trapped. Living the same day over and over again. The days are long and the years are short has never rang so true to me. I think, I just want one day to myself. One day to be me. To not be pulled on, sat on, peed on, puked on, or pooed on. I know that one day when they are grown, I will kick myself for even thinking this. You could never begin to imagine my love for them. They are two of my life’s greatest blessings. If you asked me to choice between my life or theirs. I wouldn’t hesitate to give them my last breathe. But none of that can shake this sadness in my heart. A sadness that I cannot name. When all I want to do is love them and live well.
I could not have asked God Himself for a better man and partner in this life. He is the calm to my crazy. He is level headed, and he is always there for me to lean on in my times of trouble. He does his best to listen and to understand. His words are gentle and kind. He has seen me at my absolute worst, and he loves me all the same. I often feel guilt and shame when he has to see me like this. I wish that I could just be strong for him, and for our boys.
I just want to feel like myself.
Over the years, I have gotten very good at spotting my depression when it creeps in. I do my best to stop it before it spirals out of control. I have learned to accept that this is part of who I am. Learning to love this piece of me is the hardest part, but I am trying. I see that I am able to feel and think things that I would not be able to otherwise. I have a strong and understanding heart because of it. These are things that I am grateful for and I pray that as the years go by, I continue to accept myself for who I am and manage my depression the best that I can.
I choose happiness.
If you’re out there and you’re struggling with depression and/or anxiety, know that you are not alone. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, do it! If you feel like you need medicine, don’t shame yourself. This is a tough road to walk and a heavy burden to bear, but being open and honest about your feelings can help.