Meet my friend, Julie Anne and read her story about how she battled depression:
"How can you feel so down when you're life is so good?" is the question that swarms in my mind. My answer, "I don't know." So many, upon when hearing of my condition, have asked, "why?" and I stare blankly back, unable to respond. I wish there was a reason. I don't wish for ill, or something major, but at least I could slap a label on it and be done. Instead, I am left feeling crazy, scared, and weak and don't why.
My friend Shannon said, "I went to aerobic instructor boot camp for two days, and I literally could not do a thing after. Does it feel like that?" No. I've been sick as a dog and still ached to get up and DO.This is the sick where you lose the fire to do. That's hell if I've ever known it. I'm numb, all I can and want to do is lay in bed with the covers over my head. There I am lost, overwhelmed, and without hope, yet I still don't want to stand up. This can last for days, weeks... I force myself to get up to at least do the essentials for the kids. But if it's not essential I am frozen. I long to be busy, where I am happy (that's me!), but where is my direction? Gone.
Fears creep up. "There's no way out, I'm broken, I can't handle anything, I can't do it,everything, anything is too overwhelming".....irrational thinking of an irrational state of mind. I have realized that I care an awful lot about what people think. I agonize: "I need to call her, I have to text her back, I am suppose to be there right now, people hate me, they think I'm a flake, I'm not reliable, I'll never be the same in their eyes." When I am back to being me and thinking clearly, I know these thoughts are not true.
A year goes by with the beginnings of these suffering fading in and out, great ups and some downs... but lately, more and more of the shutting down. "I'm feeling overwhelmed, well I might as well lay down then," is how it starts. When I lay down, I am giving in. I lose my direction, I am lost. I enter into varying depths of "the pit" and may or may not reappear soon.
At this point I realized I need help. It's not something I can keep pushing and pushing and fighting and fighting through. As I look back, that's what I've done my whole life. I'm stressed, work harder. I'm so stressed, I work so hard, I achieve so high. Where is the peace, when can I relax, keep working hard, but why am I always overwhelmed? How come, even though I am so capable, she can do it and be happy and I am sitting here so overwhelmed with this cloud (whatever the cloud may be at that particular time, ie school, work, parenting) never goes away.......years, years, I'm happy, I really do love life working hard, but oh I'm always stressed, but I can live life on this high frequency, this is just how I am.....................the stress rises.........I SHUT DOWN.
Help. I need help, I might lose everything I hold dear. God, I have no idea what to do.
"You are so loved, Julie Anne," I feel it from all around, from YOU, from Will, from my kids, my family, and most especially my Father in Heaven. This is "but a small moment." (D&C 121:7)
I had my first appointment with a therapist. I learned some things. My "All or Nothing Perspective" was pointed out. WOW oh WOW how that struck home! I need to do it all, all right, or I can't do it. Example: I need to feed my kids whole grains, fruits and vegetables....oh my goodness it is too overwhelming, here, here is some chocolate chips.Or I need to do the dishes, scrub, scrub...ah the I see the baseboards are dirty, oh no I see the doors are dirty, oh my goodness look at the window sill, the windows......ahhh, I am so overwhelmed I can't possibly do these few dishes, I have to lay down on the couch ." (these are real things I stress about) But it doesn't matter the situation, I will find something to hone in my stress on. (Reagan's sleep habits for example). Yeah, All or Nothing Perspective to a T.
Through this first session I also realized something very big.....I'm trying too hard to be perfect. Yes, we are all striving to be better through this life, that's what it's all about. But somehow I need to take it on in a different way. I don't know how not to try to be perfect. I clearly know that I am NOT perfect, but I don't know how to let myself not try. Example: I honestly did not know how not to get an A in school. I mean maybe if I honestly couldn't pass a test, but there was NO way I would not turn in a paper, not do an assignment, not study my butt off for a test. I just couldn't. I could honestly say that if I got a B it was fine, but I didn't know how to not do my best in the class, if that makes sense. Now apply that to all of my life....I can't get an A in every aspect of my life and I don't have control over things and I get so stressed out and so overwhelmed that I shut down. (just lately).
As I've shared this "perfect" concept to a few people I have realized that I have sadly hurt more people than myself. Don't take this the wrong way but I sort of have a flawless first impression (once you get to know me, you realized I am all too real and flawed) but for some reason I come off WAY better than I am on first glimpse. Or on my blog. I don't think it's me being fake, but when you see everyone from the outside you don't see all the struggles.
Me proclaiming to the world that I am dealing with depression and that I am hurting so badly was almost a relief. I could breath. I could allow myself to be in sorrow, to let people see me lying in bed, with my kids going crazy, sweep the disgustingness off my kitchen floor and scrub my toilet and you know what....IT WAS OKAY.
I'm OKAY. I'm going to be OKAY. It is so so hard, and it's not over, it's going to be a long journey, probably something I will struggle with all my life. But that is OKAY.
I know that this trial will stretch me so far, and that I will undoubtedly be able to use it to help others. My Relief Society President, Rosemary Jarman, lovingly held my hand in bed and said, "Julie Anne, I don't know why you have to go through this, but when you find out, will you tell me?" Her beaming face looking down at mine, sitting on the other end of very real trials, filled me with such hope.
This will not break me! I will only be stronger. I will fulfill my dreams, so many things Heavenly Father sent me here to accomplish.
Our Deepest Fear
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
A Return to Love - Marianne Williamso
I am so grateful I opened up. I have been vulnerable and it has allowed you to be vulnerable with me. I'm grateful I can continue this conversation so openly.
I struggle with anxiety. I have my whole life. I always just labeled it as "stress" and "worry" but it pushed me to great heights and I kept it under control for the most part. When I finally admitted to myself, upon realizing that I could never relax, that I had an anxiety problem (this was one year ago), it scared me. Scared me bad. I started having anxiety over having anxiety. I wondered what I should do, should I get help or continue life as it had always been, a life that was pretty good.
I am a "to do list" kind of girl. I feel accomplished when I "get things done," "finish a project," have things in "control." As a mom, that is hard to do.
From a combination of many things (prone to anxiety, family history, all or nothing and perfection ideology, etc.) I have been suffering with depression. I don't think it's totally a depression problem but more of being so overwhelmed and full of anxiety that it plummets me into a depression. And the depression is so so real.
Julie Anne wanted to share her story so YOU can feel like you are not alone.
Thank you, Julie for sharing your experience with us!
Other stories to help battle depression are found here and here and here.