I’ve been quiet lately. You might have noticed. Usually, I’m on social media a lot and always sharing with you what I’m making. But in the past few days, I’ve just been blah.
As I shared with you a while back, I’m dealing with depression and anxiety. The post I wrote only addressed depression but every time I talk about depression in front of my counselor, P.O., she quickly adds in, “and anxiety.” So yeah… that too.
When I get down, I get quiet. When I’m just kinda blah, I paint with headphones blaring music so loud I couldn’t hear an explosion. When I’m really in the doldrums, I spend a lot of time with my journal and my bible. It’s been a journal and bible week.
But because I want this to be open, because I’ve shared my life with you for 10 years… Here’s what’s helped me so far. If you have things that have helped you, reach out to me in comments or via email and let me know.
Reaching Out to Friends
I’m an introvert to the 100th degree. My closest friends are named me, myself and I. But when things got pretty rough for me this spring, a very trusted friend told me that I couldn’t do this without community. He was right.
Once I started being more open with what I was struggling with, women I knew started opening up to me to tell me what their struggles were as well. It was so freeing to me to know that I wasn’t alone. Since then some of those women have become rocks to me while older friends pulled in even tighter.
Now I have groups of friends that all help me in different ways. Some don’t know many details but all I have to do is ask for prayer via text and I know I’m covered. Others are there in a moment’s notice when I need them. Then there’s some that text me at all times of the day, prying and bossily asking me what I’m doing because I need them to. I do not need to be babied, I need someone standing with me in love and sometimes love means reminding me to get up and get my junk done for the day.
And then I have two friends that I have given permission to ask me hard truths and check in with how I’m really doing. They also have my permission to go to my husband if they are concerned or yell at me if I’m not being truthful with my counselor.
Writing The Truths and Lies
Writing is therapeutic for me. I’ve loved writing almost as long as I’ve hated the rules of grammar – and that’s a long time. I have an Evernote account full of stories, ideas, and brain dumps. Next to my bed, I have two journals – one that is pretty and happy. The other one I used to call my ugly journal because it’s full of darkness and unhappy thoughts but the more I use it, the more I see the beauty coming from it.
One of my favorite quotes in that journal says, “We only know the good because we’ve seen the bad.” Think about that one for a while.
One trick that a friend showed me is writing out a list of the lies that you’re hearing or believing about yourself in one column. In the other column, you write a list of the truths.
Such as (these are just examples, sorry but you don’t get to see my real lies and truths):
|The Lies:||The Truths:|
|You’re fat||I’m working on my health and trying hard|
|You’ll never get it right||I’m not perfect so I don’t have to get everything right. I do a great job and am proud of myself.|
|You’re a mess||I’m made in the image of Christ|
|You’re not loveable||I am loved by ______ , _________, _______ and they choose to love me freely|
OK so in truth, those lists would be a little deeper and hard-hitting but these are just examples because this method has helped me and it might help you too.
Being Gut Wrenchingly Vulnerable
Sigh. It’s hard to air your dirty laundry. Right?
Honestly as I’m writing this, I’m pretending it’s only going to be read by one person.
The previous two things that have been huge helps to me only happened because I was vulnerable. I stuck my giant foot out there and told people I was struggling. In response, I had friends come around me in love and care and friends shared with me things that have helped them in their own lives.
You won’t find your village if you’re hiding within your own walls. Are people judging me? Yes, in fact, some days I judge myself. Has anyone said anything to my kids about it? No, and thank you for respecting that boundary. They are aware but we want to be able to have those conversations with them in private. Am I sorry I announced it to everyone that I was struggling? No but it does make it awkward sometimes – just being honest – and I’m already as awkward as they come.
Being gut-wrenchingly vulnerable takes away my ability to hide. It’s forcing me to continue to get help and get better. And hopefully, it’s helping some of you find the strength to do the same.
Vulnerability is hard. It’s actually easier to type this in the privacy of my home than to announce it to a friend in person. But I hope that my vulnerability will help you or a friend as it has already helped me.
Depression (and anxiety – because they’re co-morbid (wink, wink, P.O.)), are ugly and can pull you down but this week I’m focusing on the blessings behind them. Believe it or not, there are blessings. I’m being forced to slow down and deal with things that I’ve put to the side for way too long. I’m learning that my husband is my biggest cheerleader and caretaker. I’m getting stronger and getting rid of lies I’ve believed for way too long.
Most importantly, I’m learning how to move out of my own way and let God be God in my life and that is a blessing on top of blessing.
So if you’re in the doldrums or in the anxiety ridden spin, I pray you see the beauty that is coming your way. I also pray you’ll get help. Reach out to friends and if needed, seek the help of a professional. You are valuable and worth it. I am too.