I keep thinking surely there will be things I won’t put on the blog. Like how my counselor said to me yesterday, “Yeah, you’re depressed.” Surely that doesn’t need to go out into the universe.
But then I thought about each of you. And I thought about how depression has a stigma. And I thought about how hard things can lead to depression and one of the things my heart totally desires to do is make sure that even one woman feels less alone and less crazy. (You’re not alone, baby girl. You’re not crazy.)
So here I am saying what my counselor told me: that I’m depressed.
Frankly, this did not come as too much of a surprise to me. Somewhere along the way within the past few weeks, I felt a bit of a shift. So those words actually made sense, didn’t upset me or shock me.
Now, here’s why I’m telling all of you this. Because I think that when most people think of depression, they picture a woman in her bathrobe in the middle of the day with bedhead and carrying a box of Kleenex around, if she’s even out of bed.
Yeah, no. That’s not how it’s playing out for me. And if I waited for myself to morph into that specific caricature, I’d have never diagnosed myself (and therefore, never would’ve gone to my counselor).
So I want to tell you what it’s been looking like for me, in case you find yourself here too, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m not depressed…because I’m not sleeping all day every day/not eating/laying around/getting nothing done (fill in the blank).”
So, for me it’s been this:
I’ve been getting the same amount of sleep I always get.
I’ve been eating probably about the same amount of food; but I’m not hungry. I’m saying things like, midday, Oh, I should probably eat something. I’m having to remind myself to eat.
I’ve been getting the same amount, if not more, work done; but not out of passion…to keep my thoughts distracted.
I’ve been taking one or two walks a day (i.e. getting outside, getting exercise); but sometimes they’re slow walks, or sometimes I’ll cry a little bit.
I’ve been listening to music; but songs lately, as I said to my friends, are the bane of my existence; they’re reminding me of everything him-related.
I haven’t done anything specifically just for the fun of it in weeks; I’ve had to tell myself to put earrings on because it felt sort of pointless; I haven’t gone clothes shopping in over six weeks (that right there should have been my one and only needed red flag that something was off).
There’s more…I’m not trying to make light of it all…I’m still crying some…I’m still dwelling…I’m still wanting to be home more than usual…I’m going through the motions. In other words, I’m just not me.
And I have no idea why this situation of all the hard things I’ve weathered has caused me to slip a bit down the depressed road, but it has.
My kindest-man-I’ve-ever-known counselor (who has walked me through the past four years of yuck) said this to me, “You have suffered yet another deep rejection…another wounding to your heart.” (Oh, thank you, sweet, sweet man for not minimizing this loss.) But he then said, “If a spiritual doctor could look into your heart, he would tell you that all of your other wounds have healed just beautifully.” (In other words, this one will too.)
So, what am I doing now that I’ve been “diagnosed”?
One, I’m not ashamed (clearly!).
Two, I told a few friends so they can be praying and checking in.
Three, I’m going to keep eating well, sleeping enough, going for walks, doing my work.
Four, I’m going to check in with my counselor again if I’m not feeling better in a few weeks.
Five, I’m going to be monitor myself carefully and keep being honest with myself.
Six, the tweaks: I’ve purchased some St. John’s Wort tea; I’ve changed out my walking music to all new worship songs I’ve never heard before so there can be no triggering; I’m going to think of something fun to do (soon, I promise); I’m going to work on halting my thoughts as they start replaying conversations – even though all the conversations were good – by simply saying Jesus out loud. (It may work, it may not.)
But even in this moment, I’m realizing that this is yet one more experience God is allowing me to walk through and learn from and put in my pocket of things that I will be able to empathize with and have compassion for.
I’m not worried. I am confident that I’m going to be okay and that I’m going to feel like myself again at some point soon. And in the meantime, I will be gentle with myself, show myself grace, do what I need to do to take care of myself, and keep moving forward.
And sweet girl, if this is you…please get some help. Go to your doctor, talk to a mentor, meet with a counselor, take care of yourself. God wants us whole and healed. And I want that for us too.
I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace. –Jeremiah 33:6-
Two days ago, I was pleased to realize that I haven’t been living in gut-wrenching pain all the time, as I have been for the last two years. Today is a painful/angry day.
I digress- That’s not even the point I wanted to make!
Even though those old wounds heal, they hurt like crazy if the scar gets bumped hard enough.
And I also believe that our minds “remember” dates, times, even seasons from the past, that we don’t actually consciously remember. Sometimes when I read your posts- and I read every single one, usually twice!- I wonder if your “self” gets triggered by en event, a time… I don’t know.
An example of this is when I felt really weepy for a few days in April, and my friend reminded me that it was around that time in years past that my mother and sister had died.
I’m sure you know all this.
Just feeling for you, Elisabeth, because I’ve grown fond of you through your blogging. 🙂
Thank you, Lisa…so sweet to hear. -Elisabeth
Isn’t it sweet how we can grow bonds through blogging (as the reader mentioned above)? I’m so glad your hurt was not minimized. Our culture shames depression, but really it is necessary after loss – whatever the loss may be. I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself and monitoring the trajectory. You can check back in a few weeks and see if you are making progress or getting stuck. Either will provide more direction moving forward.
Hugs to you this weekend and best wishes planning something fun!
Thank you, Missy.
I can relate very well to this post because I have suffered with depression on and off since my late teens — now am in my 40s. I went off my anti-depressants about a year ago because I felt like they weren’t helping because my depression appeared to be situational at the time, but as I consider my “attitude” towards life — ie “what’s the point of all this?” I have to wonder if I’m dealing with depression again. Although I have had some huge losses recently (my boss and dear friend of 13 years was killed 5/24/14, and consequently lost my job/profession of the last 13 years), feeling like I have no friends (going into the mode of “nobody likes me, everybody hates me, might as well go eat some worms”), etc. I also deal with an auto immune condition and have for the last 10 years, so then I have well meaning, well intentioned people trying to “fix” me with all their cures that will make me feel better. Had my pastor even tell me (when I told him that I’d dealt with depression most of my life) tell me that it is really just a small percent of people that REALLY suffer from depression and that I’m probably not suffering from depression. That alone caused me to go further into my shell, and further away from people.
I have read some great books by Sheila Walsh that were really great — “Life is Tough, but God is Faithful” and “God Loves Broken People”. I think I need to bust them out yet again.
Thanks as always for being so transparent for those of us out here — I appreciate you Elizabeth.
Thank you, Michele.
Saying the name of Jesus out loud does wonders!! A sweet dear lady in my ss class mentioned that months ago, and it really helps! Actually just today, I’ve been walking around singing “there is power in the of Jesus”! Hugs to you Elisabeth…..thanks for keeping it real! 🙂
Thank you, Latosha.
Well this is me right now. Im not sure how to handle it. I dont want to get on medication again so Im scared. Thank you for your post. Please pray for me!!!
Jaime, just prayed for you. -Elisabeth
You are definitely not alone. Isn’t it relieving to know that there’s actually a name for what you’re going through so you’re not walking around feeling like something is wrong, not knowing what it is and/or if it will ever go away? I LOVE what you said : it will pass and you will be your true self again. I can’t tell you how much comfort those words bring me. Thank you for that verse as well. Strength and grace for you, Elisabeth.