Suffering from anxiety and depression means living on the edge..with basically everything. The tiniest things trigger you and cause a lot of mental chaos. It means overplaying scenarios in your mind on things you could have said or done but for whatever reason, you didn’t. For me it meant a lot of days spent in bed under the covers with the curtains and my eyes closed. It also meant a lot of nights of silent crying. You know the kind of cry where you curl up in a ball, you feel the ache in your chest and throat, then tears just come uncontrollably? The kind where you can’t breathe anymore but somehow you breathe through it because you don’t want to wake anyone in the house and being upset about it is easier than explaining it. Because let’s be honest, that’s way easier anyway since we don’t even understand it ourselves.
I’m going to tell you about some of my struggles and how I internalize them. I want you to know that what I tell you might help you but it might not either. Each of our journeys are beautiful and unique in their own way. Even if we don’t see it that way at the time. The times that hurt or put us through hurt, those times aren’t necessarily beautiful but it’s how we react to those situations that mold us into stronger beings.
I won’t tell you things happen for a reason and I won’t tell you ALL things happen according to God’s plan even though I’ve been raised to believe it all of my life. Or maybe a broken heart was all apart of God’s plan all along, who knows..all I know is the number one thing that set me back the most were those two phrases. At thirty years old I can’t come up with one solid reason that makes sense for why I was bullied in school, why I’ve had five pregnancies but only have two children, why my mother drank herself to death, why my father-in-law was murdered or why anything negative with friends, family or people in my life could go so incredibly sour. Trust me, I’ve taken a long hard look at myself in the mirror(quite a few times) and tried to figure out what was wrong with me and how these things could keep happening to me. I asked myself what I had done in my life to deserve these things. I beat myself up over these things because I’m a huge believer in what goes around comes around. Surely I did something somewhere along the way to deserve this kind of pain. Perhaps I did. I have done so much bible reading, self-care reading and discovery, therapy, journaling and praying…I know my faults and I have worked and still work so hard on them to better myself. I know I will never be perfect and I never want to wear that kind of crown. But getting through my anxiety and depression is a constant run on the hamster wheel. Waking up happy doesn’t just happen. Something to factor in is that I didn’t choose depression or anxiety, it chose me. If it chose you too, you have to give yourself credit where it’s due. You did whatever you had to do to stay alive today. Even if it was as small as changing from one pair of pajamas to the next or showering, getting dressed and showing up to work, keeping your children fed and happy…you’re doing it! You’re doing what you have to do to keep going!
The reason I said I won’t tell you that all things happen according to God’s plan is because I think a lot of us tend to forget that there’s a fallen angel out there who’s only goal is to rip every good thing from our lives until we feel like we have nothing left to live for. Satan wants nothing more than to control our hearts and lives and bring us the most utter and sick sorrows. I think God’s plan for us would never intend to bring us such hurt or pain. The bible says in Deuteronomy 31:8 ” The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.”
This might not be what you think or believe and that’s okay.
Writing it all down.
One of the number one things that helped me was journaling. Something about putting it all down on paper helped to get it all out of my system. At the time, I wanted to write it all down because I didn’t want to forget anything that happened. Whether it was a dream, something that happened, how I was feeling..you name it. Anything and everything had fair game in my journal. It’s interesting to look back and read now. I still feel everything that I wrote down years ago but it’s inspiring to see how far I have come since then.
Learning to say no..and yes.
I think we all know darn good and well when we really ought to say yes and no to things but for whatever reason, we just don’t go with our gut. We do things we don’t really want to do for fear of upsetting someone or letting them down. In turn, we really end up letting ourselves down. Or those times when we know we should say yes because whatever it is, could be good for us but again..we do the opposite because fear of the unknown is a safer space.
The powerful and uplifting feeling of saying yes and no in the right times is key in my opinion. It can be incredibly uncomfortable especially when you know you’re letting someone down but when you finally do something positive for yourself for a change, those people get on board with it eventually. Not to mention, if these people truly care about you and your wellbeing, they’ll either understand or move on to the next person who lets them use them. You have to stick to your guns. Shutting out all sources of negativity helps you get through those dark seasons. It’s also incredibly uncomfortable saying yes to positive opportunities that could let some good in but it also brings in sources of light in for future seasons. Which is a good thing! Being able to say yes and no in the right times gives you the opportunity to take control back on your life.
Stop comparing yourself.
I still struggle with this all the time. I will not sit here and lie to you about that. One of the number one thief’s of joy is comparing yourself to other people. People who are prettier than we are, funnier than we are, have things we don’t have, do things we can’t do, have more money, drive a fancy car, have a bangin’ body, have more success, go on vacations..you get the idea. You already know what I am talking about it. We are all guilty of doing this at some point or another. It is so bad for us yet we do it all the time. But why? Is it because we aren’t satisfied with what we have? Is it because we want more but aren’t motivated enough to do anything about it? It probably has a lot to do with social media these days if you ask me. Everyone’s lives appear so perfect when you only see their highlight reel. Proverbs 4:23 says ” Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” If we applied this daily, we would stop stealing our own joy from ourselves. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to other people and wanting what they have, it makes us lose our sense of self and who God made us to be. Remember, God rewards those who are faithful with the gifts they are given. It’s not about what you have or you don’t have, it’s what you do with what you have that’s important.
I seriously wish I could go back in time and kick my younger, childish self in the rear end..all thanks to Facebook memories and TimeHop. I didn’t realize how negative and whiny I was until this cute little feature became available. I wish I knew how complaining would get me no where. It just drug out a super long and super sad process of nothingness. Instead, I wish I would have thought of it as what kind of lesson God was trying to teach me or tried practicing being grateful for what I did have over what I didn’t. I catch myself a lot these days falling into old patterns where I focus on everything that’s going wrong. This step is hard but if you practice on even the tiniest things that make you happy and how many of them there actually are, it gets easier to stop focusing on all the negative. Trust the process and remember not to beat yourself up about it.
Discover your why.
Finding your why gives you reason for everything. So I’ll cut straight to the chase here…my children saved me. That’s not to say the family or friends I have or my husband didn’t, they did but only to a certain extent. Those people gave me meaning to keep going but my children gave me my purpose to keep living.
My mother’s mom, whom I never met, left my mom when she was six years old. She chose to be selfish and do…whatever she did after she left without ever looking back or questioning her decision. Even when my mom tried to give her the opportunity to meet my brother and I when we were born, she wasn’t interested.
When everything happened with my mother, I couldn’t help but blame this person who I should have been able to call my grandmother. It’s like she set up this really screwed up domino effect. After my mother passed away, there I was, the next domino in line. It only made sense that I would be broken since the two generations of women who I should have been able to admire and learn from were both quitters.
And then I had my babies. I thought I knew love when I said I do, I thought I knew love when I had positive pregnancy tests, I thought I knew love when I felt their little flutters in my tummy..but it wasn’t until they laid them on my chest and I got to look in their eyes and see what my purpose in life was. My girls. My husband and I reconnected on a level like we hadn’t in a long time and it has been so beautiful and life altering. We both needed them more than they think need us.
They’re my why. They’re my reason for everything. For standing up every time I fall, for pushing through all the hard times, for bettering myself mind and body, for working to be successful with my businesses and for fighting my anxiety and depression like my life depends on it. Because it does matter. I matter. I never want my girls to know the kind of hurt I’ve felt. I never want them to know what it’s like to have a mama who gave up on them. It stops with me. I’m worth it and you are too.