Sometimes during challenging stages of life, I begin to feel totally overwhelmed. If you have a new baby, a sick child, financial struggles, job issues, or perhaps a sick or aging parent (like me), it tends to try and zap you of the small amount of energy you're trying to hold onto for fun things! Life has a way of kicking us all in the butt sometimes. But all it takes to see what you're facing is not insurmountable is to hear of someone else's problems that are more serious or, worse yet, completely devastating, As much as it seems wrong to feel better when you hear of someone else's misfortunes, I'm just trying to be totally honest here. It does seem to put what you're facing into perspective.
Some would think me fragile perhaps. But, really, it's not that I'm fragile, it's just that I suffer from a lifelong battle with depression. When I was a small child, I would have crying sessions at night for no apparent reason, and my parents were totally at a loss as to what to do for me. They took me to the doctor; they took me to the preacher; they loved and reassured me. But "back in those days," depression was not discussed nearly as much as it is today. There were no good medications, and it carried with it a stigma that still to this day tries to ride the coattails of a depression diagnosis, refusing to let go and allow a diagnosis of depression to have as much authenticity and validity as, say, a cancer diagnosis. A diagnosis of depression can be equally as devastating as a cancer diagnosis. With depression, there is nothing tangible that you can see or point to that gives it integrity. It's hard to see a chemical imbalance in the brain like a glowing tumor on an x-ray or sonogram. Sometimes people, like me, have no apparent reason to be depressed but the symptoms are there, and a family history of depression gives you all the credibility you need to seek help. My mother had depression, my grandmother had depression, probably my great-grandmother as well, if truth be known. Unfortunately, one of my children has also struggled with depression. Depression is real and affects millions of people in our country, but there is also now great help available.
So I am not fragile. As a matter of fact, I have been told by certain people that I am one of the strongest women they know! But when the circumstances of life change, it's depression's prime opportunity to rear its ugly head and try and take you captive, pushing you into a few days or even weeks of what I call "being in a slump." You begin to feel lethargic, overwhelmed, and paralyzed from moving forward. It can surface with sadness, anxiety, anger, confusion, and indeciveness. Unfortunately, depression has many masks that it wears. But learning those faces of depression and how they are triggered has been the first step for me on the road to feeling better. Thankfully, about 20 or so years ago, I was able to find the right regimen of care needed to stabilize my symptoms and push me to enjoy pretty much every year depression-free. I, like anyone else, have my days. I have also learned the hard way in more recent years that diet and exercise play a huge part in keeping the depression demon at bay. But this too I know: When I see life's issues beginning to pull me down, I have learned to take a step back, to evaluate what is triggering the symptoms I am having, and to be gentler with myself. I have learned to do what is needed to feel better and stronger and to let nothing else take priority over the immediate battle in the war against depression. Many days walking is the only thing that gives me a release from depression's ugly grip. And if I walk regularly, it plays a crucial part in keeping it under control. I've been known to say to others "I'm gonna walk till I feel better or I kill over from exhaustion!"
So, in case you think this blogpost is a downer, think again! If my struggles can encourage you or push you to seek help to be stronger or to ultimately improve your life, then that's what makes this post an "upper." If you can relate to being knocked down sometimes by life's circumstances, I hope that knowing others struggle as well will empower you. But it's hard to take a step back when you're full throttle ahead. Slow down; inspect the reality you're dealing with; analyze the triggers; reflect on your blessings and count them one-by-one... See your doctor, and find out that you are not alone and there is help waiting for you. It also is a tremendous help to find someone you trust who can brain-storm with you and remind you of the safety measures needed to rise above the negative chatter going on in your head to live life and to thrive. I am not a health professional. Just keeping it real from the heart.
And it just plain helps to talk about it. Thank you for listening...
Posted by CC
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