I had everything a girl could want. Or so it seemed.
I had graduated university. Immediately got a job. Lived in a big house and had just bought a car. I had a beautiful family. A man that loved me to bits. Yet there I was sitted in my car watching the sun set, money in the bank, Brazilian weave and all – crying my lungs out and wishing I was dead.
I thought of my kids. Thinking of those you love who would miss you if you were no more is supposed to help. It didn’t .
I tried positive affirmations. Those are supposed to make you feel better. Right? They didn’t.
As a last resort I prayed. Soul rending, heart felt prayer accompanied by groaning of the spirit. Then I waited .
I waited to feel better. Waited to hear a still quiet voice say everything would be okay. Still nothing.
So I wiped my years, put on lipstick, drove home and got back to playing happy families.
I was in this state for years. For a while would be semi-fine then on and off the waves of despair would hit me and drag me under. I focused all of my energy on going through the motions. Invested my effort into being to loved ones what they needed me to be. Happy, strong, carefree and all that.
I locked my negative feelings away in a corner in my heart and hung the key on a long chain around my neck. I had managed to get over myself I figured. Settled into the numbness and thought I was winning.
But feelings are things. Live, breathing organisms. Monsters. Beasts. You can only cage them so long.
Things came to a head a couple of years later after I added into my hurt locker a second bout of post natal depression, burnout and a massively stressful job. I became very ill and the depression took over my life, finally.
I couldn’t sleep and when I did I didn’t want to wake up.
Getting up in the morning became my biggest struggle. I had no reason to get out of bed. No motivation to get up and go. All the usual “think about your family, they need you” nonsense wasn’t working for me.
I found myself sitting in a food court one day waiting for my order tears streaming down my face. I wanted to shout at the top of lungs – I am not ok, I am not ok, I am not ok until my voice got hoarse.
Doctor prescribed medicine. Friends advised natural remedies. Others prayed with me. Mr Man was googling testimonies of survivors and how they made it through the darkness I was ok in.
I tried exercise. Diet changes. You name it. Nothing.
Earlier this year, 2019, I went in to the GP with yet another headache and a long list of physical ailments as usual. The doctor that I saw was new and really looked at my file with fresh eyes and interest. For half an hour we spoke about my medical history, my life and this constant hollowness that accompanied me everywhere.
“You know what? I think you are clinically depressed. I am going to refer you to a psychologist” she said.
“Well, I am a psychologist you know. It’s just going to feel strange having another person in my head” I replied in a cheap attempt at humour.
Honestly speaking I was horrified that someone had finally called my feeling but her name. Depression. And if I was to get past this I had to do the work.
In the months since then I haven’t seen a psychologist but I have done some things that got me out of the woods.
1. Break the silence
The thing with depression is it will have you sit in dark corners drenching your carpet in tears alone and take you away from conversations with people. Part of the reason why seeing a shrink helps is they get you to talk. And that’s half the battle. You get out of the dark into the light when you talk about what you are going through. You squeeze the pus out off your emotional wounds when you share what’s on your heart.
Initially I started opening up to a few trusted friends about my condition. They got it. Imagine!
When I shared publicly for the first time on a Facebook page I had created just to get my thoughts out off my head there was such an outpouring of love I was amazed so many people cared. And you won’t believe the number of people who sent #metoo messages. People struggling with the exact same demons I was. Just knowing this was such a weight off of my shoulders.
2. Identifying the root of the problem
The best way to kill weeds is of course to pull them out by the root! I had never really thought about how the depression started, what may have caused it or was fuelling it. But if we look at our lives we can see the patterns so clearly. Be it rejection, failure, hard knocks – if you take the time to look back at your life you can see what the significant moments have been where you were lifted up or pulled down.
I did this kind of reflection and it sobered me up real fast. I realised I had taken quite a lot of very hard knocks and my mental state was actually okay for a person going through all of that with no break. I was finally able to say, “Hey it’s been tough but you are still standing. Good going girl!” and give myself a high five.
3. Cut yourself some slack
After learning to call my depression what it was and acknowledging what led to it something profound happened for me. I was finally able to cut myself some slack. Given the circumstances I was doing mighty fine actually. With that new understanding I made a decision to shift my focus to creating the happiness that I want in my life.
4. Project Happiness
I am in a phase of creation now. Visioning new dreams, new future plans, finding new interests . It is an interesting experience. Did you know we can create happy feelings? I would wake up dreading the day then put on my favourite upbeat music to listen to as I forced myself through my morning routine. Everyday bathe, pretty up, make the bed, eat breakfast, get some sun. Someway into the ritual I would find myself singing along, dancing even. Because music is my first love. I am addicted to the bass and ever ready to sing along
This post would be in complete if I did not talk about prayer. In my long winter I swung from prayer warrior to cynic to almost atheist and back again. Amazing thing in all of it was I prayed for peace, joy, happiness and my very sanity but didn’t seem to get any answer. My existence continued to be one long flat E. But I would pray for others and get immediate answers and elaborate dreams. Looking back I realise I was where I needed to be. Sometimes we are in God’s workshop and he is taking us apart to put us back together again. He is kicking us across the river to greener pastures. Sometimes He is carrying you across the valley so you can get to the peak with the lovely view on the other side.
May you grow from whatever you are going through and someday share testimony of how you made it – how God saw you through.