You may be wondering why I’ve been a little quiet on the blog lately. This may help you understand.
I’ve been told by many people that I make it all ‘look easy,’ and that I ‘have it together,’ but in my mind that’s far from the truth. I even spoke last year at FinCon about balancing it life and work (you can see the video and all my tips/advice here).
In reality things aren’t always as they appear on the outside.
I don’t know when it started exactly. It was a slow slide, a slippery slope–gradual. It wasn’t a new feeling. In fact feeling familiar, like an old coat you haven’t put in months that fits you so well and is so cozy you just want to curl up in a ball in it. When you realize you are in its’ grips it feels ilk this is who you are at your basest. That this is your default.
Depression looks and feels very different for everyone it effects, but for me it’s a slow sinking of all my emotions into a flatter plane. My depression looks like feelings of frustration, anger even, that come out when I least expect them. The rest of the time I’m on this even keel-that’s slightly too even, if that makes sense. The happiness is hollow, the sadness is shallow.
I close myself off from everyone. If I have to interact it’s minimal. I stress about. I replay it in my head.
When it finally dawns on me that the lack of joy I feel for an accomplishment, and the astounding self-hatred I feel over the smallest of my own transgressions is in fact depression–it almost feels too late. Too late to ‘fix’ what may be ‘wrong’ with me. Too late to take back all those moments I wish I could live over again more fully and present.
Depression steals away so much, and when I realize I am indeed in the midst of a bout, I get even sadder to think I’ve missed out. Of course that’s what it does best-pushes me deeper into its grip.
This time along with my numbness, my frustration, my self-loathing came a new feeling of anxiety. Anxiety over the smallest things, like getting out the door in the morning. Anxiety over nothing, and everything all at once.
So, I did what I always do. I asked for help from my best friend, my husband. I told him and for a moment I felt free of breaking into a million little pieces on the floor.
I made an appointment with our family therapist (yes, you should have one too), and spilled my sadness over everything and nothing.
She gave me a prescription for happiness, and shared that these small things can help, but that if it’s necessary we would look at medication.
Here’s the RX for happiness she shared with me:
1. Walk 10 minutes, 3 times a week. This is not exercise per say, and it is not meant to get you into shape. Rather it is meditative. A way to connect with yourself.
2. Eat foods that fight depression, and eat a healthy diet overall. Allow for some cheating, but focus on fruits, veggies, and foods that fight depression (salmon, avocado, nuts)
3. Sleep. It’s essential after all. If you have kids, they have a bedtime routine. You need one, too.
4. Plan something for the future. A life list item, a vacation, a date night.
5. Be. It’s okay to just be in the sadness a bit. It’s okay to embrace it, and just take a day to live in your pajamas and watch crappy TV and ignore everything.
I tried all of these things for several weeks, but they weren’t enough for me. It took me so much time to work myself up to that 10 minute walk. Bouts of insomnia paired with intense anxiety kept me up at night. Eating was necessary, but I found no ability to provide healthy meals for myself. I would cook a healthy meal for the family, and walk away from the table without eating. It was time to consider medication.
While I am the last person to use medicine needlessly (we prefer homeopathy and old-fashioned remedies whenever possible), I was hanging on by a thread and needed help. I hoped that the medication would be the help I needed.
I had seen the transformation others had been through once they started the right medication. I had talked to friends who shared their stories, their cautionary tales, and their triumphs. I knew I was not alone which was a huge comfort.
I was still nervous. Would it work? Would I experience side effects? How long would it take to work?
The worst part about taking antidepressants is that they take weeks to work their way into your system. So you take this little pill, and feel nothing for weeks. Slowly, slowly, slowly you start to notice things shifting. Happiness seeping in. Anxiety dissipating. Calm overtaking you.
There comes a time when it’s really working (or not) and you make adjustments. You begin to feel like yourself again in a way you haven’t in a long time.
Those simple tasks (taking a walk, sleeping) become easy. I began to live life with ease. Problems and crises arose in life (as they do) and I was able to not only cope, but handle them with grace and love. I fight on instead of running away. I embraced the experience, I stopped pushing life away.
I know this is only the beginning. I know there will be more time, more adjustments, more challenges ahead.I started writing this six months ago, and only now am able to post it since I feel like I’m coming out of the other side. Part of that moving to the other side of depression is to re-prioritize my goals and my time. I’m finding more happiness in every day. I’m finding more joy in the small things.
The blog is still my home on the web, and I’ll still continue to write here as much if not more than before. Over the last few weeks though I’ve been sick (twice!), I’ve been diagnosed (again) with low Vitamin D levels, and so I’ve been spending more time just be-ing. Resting. Eating right. And yes, watching crappy TV while I do nothing.
A side note: Vitamin D deficiency is VERY common in women, so get yours checked at your annual physical. It causes fatigue, mental fog, aches and pains, and many other symptoms. It’s an easy fix, and believe me it will make you feel 100 times better if you’re vitamin D is low.
I could have shared my struggles sooner, but to be honest I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to share what I was feeling without the doubt and anxiety I have cropping up. So I waited, knowing the time would be right eventually.
Getting personal on the blog is a bit different, but I truly think my readers should know what’s going on. To use an overused phrase–I want to keep it real.
My depression, my health have all effected not only this blog, but my lifestyle and financial choices. Being healthy means I can focus on our finances without being overwhelmed or frustrated. It means I make better choices in the short-term, and the long-term. It means seeing something that needs fixing doesn’t overwhelm me. I fix it and move on.
I know this journey isn’t over, and I’ll certainly share it as I continue on this path to healing and health. It’s not easy for my to talk about, but in some ways sharing it with you means so much.
I’ll leave you with this quote. It is something I remind myself of daily.
“If you have any hesitation about getting help, my biggest message to you is this: You deserve happiness.”-From Oprah Magazine June 2001 by Andrew Solomon (author of the Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression)