There’s no easy way to realize that you’ve slipped from “hanging in there” to “I’m not okay”. It can be even harder to share the information with your significant other, or best friend, or your family. It’s terrifying. You ask yourself questions like: How do I get help? How do I even begin to talk about what’s weighing me down? Will my insurance cover this?
It’s a daunting process to say the least.
You don’t want to upset family, you don’t want them to think that you’re on the brink of suicidal tendencies. You’re not so distraught that you want to end your life. I’ve been in these shoes. I’ve thought to myself “I want to live, but living right now feels impossible”. I don’t want anyone to worry about me, I’ll be alright, I’m just not okay right now.
If I could stay in bed all day without functioning, I would. There’s a pit that I feel myself slowly sinking into. Sometimes I fight like hell to beat it, I exercise, I pray, I read and listen to positive things. Other days it beats me down. I’m too tired to fight. There have been times where positive things make me feel worse, lazy, worthless, useless. I’m not strong or “hanging in there” today. Why try?
Depression, anxiety, it has black curling fingers that wrap around my heart and squeeze until there’s no more air left in the room. It winds itself through my mind and tells me lies when I look in the mirror or at other people. Their lives, relationships, families, bodies… You have too many flaws for someone so young, your skin should be better. Why don’t you cook better things for your family, the house is a mess. Exercise more, eat less. You don’t enjoy your children when you’re like this, all you do is yell and berate them.
What is wrong with me? Why am I so broken?
Depressive episodes run like the start of a virus, it starts nasty then becomes worse. Then you begin to realize you need help. Time has passed and you’re not feeling better. Small things jump out and attack your emotions affecting the entirety of your day. Dropping a pen, spilling a drink, bumping into a doorway, a backhanded compliment.
Ask for help, there’s no reason to suffer in silence. Here’s some things you can do to start the process:
First option, tell someone. Anyone. Talk to your primary care provider about finding a therapist in your area, your insurance company will have a list of providers you’re covered by. Ask a friend for a recommendation for someone to see. Tell someone you trust, your best friend, your brother, a coworker.
Second option, get the words and feelings out of your trapped mind.
If you can’t share with someone utilize a pen and paper. Keeping a journal is an outlet, it gets your thoughts down and out of your head and easier to reflect on. Read your words over and look at what your current circumstances are. Did you just have a baby? Emotional trauma that resurfaces around the same time each year? A death that affected you? Relocation to a new area? Difficulties parenting? Massive debts weighing you down? Maybe it’s sixteen different things.
There’s always a place to start.
Once I was distraught over something that seemed mundane, my baby’s gender. There are women struggling all over to become pregnant and I was considering giving my baby up for adoption, just because I couldn’t handle the thought of another boy... I wrote out all of the sadness I held in my heart and noticed after a few weeks there was a cycle. An endless loop. I could practically count down the days to when my next “episode” would be. Something was wrong and I needed help because I slowly was disconnecting with my family. I felt sick.
I was sick and needed help, so I talked to my O.B. It sounds cliché to say she saved me but I truly believe my postpartum depression experience would have been a living hell if I hadn’t gone in that day and just said, “I’m not okay”. That was it. From there we talked about my options, therapy in and out of the office, the safest medication if I needed it, most importantly my home support system. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have a husband who takes my mood swings seriously. If it wasn’t for him I may never have talked to my doctor.
I still have days where I feel the waves crashing down on me. I feel hopeless and trapped. No matter what I do, I can’t help make my situation better. Life does that to us, it comes down at all once. You lose a job while receiving a life altering medical diagnosis. You declare bankruptcy while you’re growing a family. You lose a loved one or suffer a wedge between family do to a separation. The phrase I find myself repeating over and over is “it’s not supposed to be this way”. It’s supposed to get better, not worse.
I rely faithfully on a good God. I trust his process even in the wake of my pessimism, angst, frustration, and exhaustion. I rely on a therapist I asked my primary care provider to help me find so I could afford to get the help I needed. I rely on antidepressants. I never wanted to be on medication. But I track my mood, I keep my dosage where it needs to be at and talk to my health providers about how to manage my mental health care options. It’s a constant balancing act.
There’s no shame in asking for help. There’s no shame in being medicated, if it makes you a better mother, spouse, friend. There’s no shame in saying “I’m not okay”. What you’re feeling is real even if it feels like it’s stemming from nowhere.
Don’t let yourself suffer in silence.
You don’t have to hide in plain sight.