I’m going to write about depression, and it’s lies… because I need to hear it, and maybe you do too.
Labels are hard for me. Not necessarily because of the stigma attached, but because I believe it’s often used as an excuse to be a certain way. We excuse our negative thoughts and unhealthy behaviors by attaching this label to our identity, and therefore giving ourselves permission to stay in the same place; ‘I’m depressed, life is always going to be a disappointment, why bother?’ When in reality labels exist to do just the opposite. They are a diagnosis, and once you have the diagnosis you can begin treatment.
Depression sucks the life out of you, literally. I’ve actually been known to joke that depression cured my anxiety. It’s true in a way, you can’t be anxious about anything when you stop caring about everything. When you surrender yourself to the lie that you will never be good enough anyways. It’s quite freeing, for a fleeting moment. It gives you permission to stop trying. And I unfortunately spent a few months in the depths of that reality last summer. Did you know there are enough episodes of Dr. Phil to help you pretend life doesn’t matter for 3 months? That’s what I did. Here’s a hard truth bomb for me to swallow. For many months after calling it quits on social media, I sat on the couch day after day merely surviving, and I watched tv to kill the time. I blamed the time I spent on social media for all of my problems, and don’t get me wrong, it contributed in some ways. But after that was removed, I just filled the void that I wasn’t addressing with more unhealthy behavior.
I was still a wife, and a mother, and I worked; I still had responsibilities and a life to maintain. So while I was going through this season, unable to perform at the rate and capacity I was used to, that really honed in all of the negative things I was already starting to believe about myself. Every time I was late to work, or messed up dinner, or hadn’t read enough books that day to my one year old, It confirmed these ‘truths’ about myself. You’re a bad mom, you are failing in your career, you can’t even cook your family a proper meal; you’re useless, they would be better off without you, you’re a burden. I ate these words up all day every day. And when my head hit the pillow at night they were a comforting blanket of melancholy as I drifted off to sleep, wishing I would never wake up.
‘They’re just thoughts, it’s no big deal. I’m not really going to do it’. I told myself as I was secretly spiraling into a dangerous low. Another lie, I couldn’t tell anyone the thoughts in my mind. That would surly prove I was not capable of being a wife, and a mom, and a productive member of society. I have to keep this to myself because otherwise I really will become the burden I so badly fear being. The reality here, that I knew in the back of my mind but intentionally ignored, is that your thoughts hold a lot of power. The same way that while you’re driving, when you look in a certain direction for too long, and then you realize you’ve accidentally swerved into the lane beside you. Your thoughts can have you drifting in a certain direction without even realizing it. Anything you spend that much time thinking about will eventually become a reality if you’re not careful. If you constantly tell yourself I’m a burden, without realizing it you’re so consumed in your self pity, that you really are becoming a burden to the people around you. I’ve seen it happen. I know that’s not comforting to hear, trust me I know. But you need to know that until you recognize the severity of the problem for what it is and seek help, you’re not going to get better. You cannot do it on your own, I promise you, you can’t. I have tried.
No part of me wanted to admit to anyone what I was really going through. It went against every fiber of my being, but I knew that I was facing two… well three options but we won’t go there. Two options; I delve deeper and deeper into my negative space until I’ve lost control of it and risk everything that still mattered to me, or I tell just one person, and give up control on my own terms. So I chose to tell two people. My husband, and a close friend. I didn’t have to say much, I just told them I was having some thoughts that scared me, and I didn’t feel safe to be alone. That was the kick start I needed to begin recovery.
Life didn’t change over night. My then 15 month old was still waking up through the night, which I think greatly contributed to the lows I was experiencing. And life continued to throw me curve balls that I never expected, both good and bad. All I really knew for sure was that I had a responsibility to this little boy, and it was not an option to give up. I guess that’s what kept me going until God spoke to me, and yes I do mean spoke to me. God speaks to us in all kinds of ways, but sometimes He’s louder than others. On Christmas Eve 2019 I had a prophetic word spoken over me, and that is where I heard these words; “It’s okay to be undone”, “It’s okay to be broken”, and that I no longer have to wear a mask of perfection. The man and his daughter who spoke this to me were people I had never met before, and didn’t know anything about me except for my name. So I have no doubt that I truly heard from God that night, He knew that if I didn’t hear those words in such a profound way, I would never have believed them.
Rewriting a narrative you’ve been telling yourself for months, or years, or your entire life, is not a simple task. In my case I have always strived for perfection, nothing less was good enough. You might laugh if you know me because I don’t think anyone would describe me as ‘perfect’, I’m sure there are plenty of nice words, but that is not one of them. And don’t I know it, I have never even come close to meeting my own standards of who and how I’m supposed to be. So to be told that it is okay, from God himself, should be a huge weight off of my shoulders. And it absolutely is, but there’s also this question of… what now?
How do you return to a life you had all but written off? How to you repair damage to the relationships you neglected? How do you pick up where you left off when you had nothing left to give? That’s what I’m discovering in this moment. I know who I am in Christ, but who am I in this world? I am just a stay at home mom who dropped all of my goals, and dreams, and passions for a season. As a person who used to put my self worth in my achievements, I’m not sure where to go from here. Just writing again is a big step for me, I could not bring myself to write for the better part of the last year because I felt I had nothing to say. I still don’t truly know if I’m qualified to be any sort of inspiration, or mentor, or even a wise friend, but I know that God is and I think he has something to say to you.
To you who is going through depression, to you who struggles with comparison, to you who doesn’t know what you’re even trying to do anymore. It’s okay, no really, it is. Whether the pressure of being a mom is getting to you, or you’re trying to discover your purpose, or even if you’ve just been on your couch watching Dr. Phil for 3 months, there is hope and a future. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” -Jeremiah 29:11 God is not done writing your story, even if you are. My encouragement to you is this; reach out to someone, learn to recognize truth from lies (hint; if it hurts in a good way, it’s true. If it hurts in a bad way, it’s a lie.), and look around. You are still here, and you still have the opportunity for better days ahead.
My personal journey was one of postpartum depression. Being that I’m due with my second baby in a few months, I know that genetics and statistics are not on my side. But God is. I have been through enough to know that when you come out of the fog, you see that He has been there with you all along. That is my hope for you right now; that even in the fog, even when you can’t see Him or hear Him for months and months on end, know that He is standing firm with you. He is not scared off by even your darkest thoughts. If you had to be perfect to come to Him, you wouldn’t need Him. He knows we’re broken, He knows we can’t do it on our own, and now you know that He doesn’t expect you to. I pray that you rest in that truth tonight, and I’ll do the same.