I've been sitting here staring at this keyboard, wishing this post could write itself. Wishing there was some way I could just pull the thoughts whole out of my head, throw them on the screen and let the words magically appear to tell you what I want to say. There are so many thoughts crowding around the exit of my mind, causing a logjam of ideas.
This is what I should say.
No, I should explain it this way.
No, that's not the right word...I should explain that first...
Have you ever thought of more than one correct word for what you wanted to say, and found yourself saying them both at the same time? This is like that.
And part of me doesn't want to say any of it at all.
How much easier it would be to just go on like I have, not telling you what's wrong with me. How much nicer to continue hiding what I really am and never risking your judgment. How much simpler life would be if I simply weren't this way.
But I am, no matter how much I act like I'm not.
I want to pretend it doesn't exist. But it does.
I want to ignore it, like a headache, until it goes away on its own. But it won't.
I want to be someone I'm not. But I can't. It's as much a part of me as the color of my eyes.
I want to be that cheerful, optimistic, happy-go-lucky woman who breezes through her day, routine in place, laughing with her children, being productive, loving her husband, loving life.
I want to be June Cleaver. Or Donna Reed. I want to vacuum my living room in a cute dress, tasteful string of pearls around my throat, two-inch heels and a cute, frilly apron. Hair perfectly coiffed, makeup applied, trim figured, smile fixed firmly in place.
Don't get me wrong, I know that sort of thing doesn't exist. It's not the illusion of perfection I'm after. It's the reality of happiness that I seek.
I can't find it.
Like snow in South Carolina, I get it for a little while, and then it melts away. I can't hang on to it long enough to build anything out of it. All because of who I am.
Who am I?
I'm a woman that suffers from and struggles with depression.
This is why I don't post as often as I'd like. This is why I don't go around visiting all my favorite blogs and leaving comments nearly as often as I want.
I'm not talking about having a bad day here and there, or having the blues once a month, or anything like that. This isn't one of those "You think I'm perfect but I'm really not, I'm human just like you so love me even more for admitting that" kind of posts. This is me standing before you in complete vulnerability, being totally transparent and saying, "I have something wrong with me. Can you still accept me?"
I've had to think long and hard about whether or not I really want to share this on my blog. I've been reminded that what goes out on the net, stays there forever. I'm taking a big risk admitting this publicly. I'm risking your judgment and condemnation. "Everyone gets depressed, you're just trying to make a big deal out of it to get sympathy and attention." Or, worse yet, "There are people out there experiencing real pain and suffering. You're lucky to have such a good life and so many things to be happy about, how dare you be so ungrateful!"
I am NOT ungrateful for what I have. I thank God every day, many times a day, for loving me at all, let alone more blessings than I can count. If anything, I feel unworthy of all the good things in my life.
If someone you knew broke their leg, you wouldn't say, "Well, it's not as bad as being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life, like some people are, so you shouldn't make a big deal out of it." Bzzzz! Wrong answer! And yet, that's exactly what I've been telling myself for a very long time now. I am fortunate in that my depression is mild compared to what it could be. It isn't so debilitating that I can't get out of bed every morning. No matter what I feel like, I still get up every day. I can thank my five children for that. Knowing those little lives are depending on me goes a long way towards keeping me functioning, even if it's just the bare minimum. On "bad" days, though, giving even my bare minimum saps every ounce of energy I possess. You wouldn't think being "blue" could exhaust a person, but it does. I can honestly tell you that depression takes more energy than aerobics, wood cutting, tilling a garden, doing laundry, washing dishes AND chasing toddlers all day combined. And I'd really rather be using my energies on all those things, including the never-ending laundry.
As dedicated as I am to winning this battle, I will not be seeking medical attention for it. I know it works wonders for some, and I don't look down my nose at people who take prescriptions under a doctor's supervision, but introducing foreign chemicals into my system is not for me, and I refuse to begin walking down that lifelong path. I have faith that with God and a healthier lifestyle, I can conquer this (now that I'm finally admitting the problem.)
I know what the biggest trigger of depression is for me. It's lack of sleep. I don't have to have a full eight hours (good heavens, I can't imagine what that would feel like!), but if I don't get a certain minimum, or if it's broken into pieces here and there, it's a guarantee that I'll start sinking into a vicious cycle. I'll be too tired to get up on time, so I'll miss out on exercising. I'll be running behind, so I won't eat a healthy breakfast. I'm not managing my time well, so I have to pick and choose what to work on and what to set aside for another time. At this point, I'm adding heaping layers of guilt onto my already weary shoulders for all the things that keep being put off and never gotten around to. I start saying hello to self-loathing for all the things I'm dropping the ball on, and goodbye to getting a handle on any of it. I drag on through the day, wondering simultaneously what can I do and why should I bother. And after the day finally ends and I crawl back into bed, I lay there with my mind whirling over all the things I didn't do, all the things I should do tomorrow, how different I can make my life if I'd just suck it up and get it done, what a terrible example I'm setting for my children, and what a poor excuse of a wife I am.
There will always be unexpected things that happen to throw off my ability to rest at night (like last week's colds or Mary teething), but if I commit myself to giving up the late nights, no matter how attractive that quiet time seems, I shouldn't have any problems getting enough rest going forward from here. Getting over that hurdle will allow me to concentrate on overcoming smaller triggers, like being overweight or having a disorganized home. Exercising and eating right are beneficial against depression on several levels. Having an orderly home will help me stop feeling like a failure as a wife, mother and homemaker.
In the course of writing all this out, I'm reminded of one simple yet powerful truth. A truth that assures me I can overcome this obstacle and get back to enjoying a fruitful, productive, joy-filled life. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Not some things. ALL things. I know He will give me strength to overcome this.