I have struggled with depression since I was eleven years old. It is not something I felt comfortable admitting to anyone. As a teenager when I would have a depressive episode I would stay up all hours of the night pouring my heart into this huge purple diary. There were times I was in so much emotional pain that I felt utterly alone.
Then, when I was sixteen, I made the decision to try going to church more regularly and not long after entered my first relationship. I found a new sense of peace and my depression quickly faded into a small corner of my existence, like a wolf at bay waiting for the right moment to strike.
And strike it did. Many times over the years I battled my thoughts and feelings. The people closest to me at that time firmly believed anything could be solved by prayer (not to negate the power of prayer) or I was told that I simply wasn’t thinking positively enough. I had control over my thoughts and therefore my emotions and so any depression I was feeling was of my own doing and I could easily fix it.
I bought into the lie. I allowed my thoughts and feelings to be minimized and dismissed and I felt shame for not being able to just turn it off.
The truth is we all struggle, some of us more than the average person. You should not be made to feel ashamed for not thinking ‘positively’ enough, or for needing therapy, or perhaps medication. There should not be shame in admitting you need help. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Isn’t it true in life that the more we try to run and hide from something the more it seems to keep coming back at us? How exhausting. Isn’t it better (not to mention braver) to face it head on?
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life (and I hope to teach my children sooner than later) is that the choices you make affect other people. My mental health is important to me and has an impact on my children. I want to be the best mother I can be for them and in order to do that I need to be healthy physically and mentally.
I believe if you are aware of your own personal areas of struggle and you are actively taking steps to take care of yourself whether it be church, meditation, therapy, medication, or exercise, then you are taking a step in the right direction. Remember there is no shame in admitting you struggle or need help. You deserve to be at your best and others deserve you at your best.
We experience terrible things in life and our instinct is to compartmentalize them, pretending something that happened ten years ago, maybe twenty years ago has no affect on our life now. Sometimes we need to look back and admit that maybe it does. Maybe there is some undealt with hurt and pain and it keeps circling back.
My hope is that you can be aware to face your pain, that way you are prepared for the next time the wolf will strike.No shame. Only self awareness and strength.