It’s hard. This fighting depression and anxiety. I know. I’ve been there. I sometimes feel weird talking about it now because while I still struggle from time to time, it’s been awhile since I’ve been lost in the darkest parts of those woods and I’m a little superstitious. I worry if I stop to think about that time I may accidentally find myself back there again, and well, I try really, really hard not to end up there again.
I’ve tried to find the blessing in being wired this way and when I couldn’t do that, I’ve tried to just accept that this is the way I’m made. And maybe if I can’t find the blessing in being made this way, I can at least let other people know that I’ve been there and there are things that help.
Take your meds if you need to. There’s nothing wrong with needing meds. Ignore anyone who tells you otherwise. If you’re having trouble finding the right meds, find a psychiatrist. They know their stuff. This isn’t a knock on your NP or family doctor, it’s just that sometimes you need the big guns. Get a specialist.
Find a therapist. Therapy is hard. It is the place where you deal with the dark and the muck and the sludge and the big baddies. You aren’t always going to like your therapist. They are the one shining light on the all those things you keep locked away. It will hurt. Find someone you trust. Keep going.
Do your self-care. I have things I have to do every day. I have others that I have to do when I feel low or I’m going stay low. I’ve mentioned this before but here’s my checklist. It’s going to be different for everyone but feel free to use this as a starting point if it helps you. In the winter, I also use a sun lamp. If I find myself in a low and lacking the ambition to complete my self care for more than a week, I know it’s time to start thinking about going back on medication.
Give yourself some grace. The hardest thing for me when I’m in a low is feeling like I’m a burden. I know I’m adding to the stress load of my husband. I know I’m being needy with friends and family. I know that there are people who are judging me and wondering why I’m not pulling it together. And when you’re depressed those thoughts can get really, really loud in your head. I’m learning to remind myself that no one would ever tell someone going through chemo that they’re stressing out their husband. When you’re sick, you’re sick and you need help. Keep getting treatment. Keep doing the best you can. Pat yourself on the back for the things you ARE doing. You managed to get yourself out of bed and showered? Win. You managed to get a load of laundry in? Win. You checked off your whole checklist and told your partner how much you appreciate their support? Giant, super-duper, pat-on-the-back, gold star!!
Get out of your own damn head. Stop thinking about everything. Find something that engages you and do it. Stop worrying about what people think. Whatever they’re thinking they’re going to think whether you obsess about it or not – so stop obsessing (yeah, I need to work on this one a lot yet). Understand that not everyone is going to get it and just move on. There are people who do.
Remember that it ends. For me, the biggest thing I can do is honor this is the way I’m feeling right now. That doesn’t mean that I just give into it and stop my self-care and let it control me. It means I do my self-care while acknowledging that I might not be accomplishing much else. It means feeling what I’m feeling – whirling, lonely, sad, nothing – and just accepting it, not being ruled by it, and knowing it will change. Eventually.
**I wrote this not because I’m struggling right now but because I have a loved one who is. Because it’s the time of year when a lot of us do. Because it’s hard to feel like you are the only person out there trying to keep your head above the mire. Because I believe that every single voice that says, “I’ve been there. It’s hard. I get it. It awful. I understand.” makes this dense dark wood a little less lonely.**