What if your depression was a gift?

I married a teacher. I mean he wasn’t my teacher when I married him. That would be weird and illegal and make him old. I mean I happen to be married to a man who became a teacher. My brother is also a teacher, as well as my sister in law. Many of my most favorite people in the world are teachers. I myself, could never be one. I don’t like organizing things or sitting in tiny chairs with tiny scissors cutting out shapes. I never have and I never will.

 

BUT teachers shaped who I am. They were the first to affirm that standing in your truth was enough. It wasn’t only enough, it was necessary. It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I started to believe that living in your truth was the bravest thing you could do. For yourself and for those around you.

My high school AP English professor helped  unlock that my truth wasn’t anything to hide, it was everything to write. “Write what you KNOW…..” “Show ,don’t tell me your life….” All of these things have been so cathartic to remember that it has been in me all along. The storyteller. The dreamer. The feeler of all the feels. It has been in me from the very beginning.

 

So it shouldn’t have been such an overwhelming truth to hold when I discovered that some of my children have the same “issues” as their mother. As my ten year old likes to tell her siblings or anyone else that will listen “God made me with all the feelings, and that is a beautiful thing!” As she is in the middle of a sensory overload three hour meltdown. She is a truth teller and just needs space to tell it. We haven’t really worked out the details of filters or when it is appropriate to share those yet. Baby steps.

 

But there is another side of me to being a writer. A dreamer, A storyteller. A feeler of all the feels.

Depression.

The big ugly D word. Which for me pairs nicely with the A word. Put them together and you have a hot mess of sadness with all the fears. It is not pleasant. In fact I hate it. And from what I can remember, I have always dealt with it. Times in my life it has been magnified more than others. And then at times it lays dormant. But I know in the back of my head it is always there. Waiting for me to let it back in.

I remember when I was fourteen I was taken to “lunch” to meet someone. It happened to be a psychiatrist that my parents knew who by the time I finished my fries had prescribed the first taste of Prozac for my lips. At the time all I knew is that I had just endured a horrific trauma and I hated everyone and everything. I was a very pleasant teenager. What I didn’t know is that what I was feeling was more than appropriate and would become a part of my story.

 

And don’t ask me about God, he and I were not talking during this time. I had been Romans 8:28ed more times than I could count and that was just making me more confused than cared for.

 

The depression would continue throughout my life. Although mask itself into an eating disorder that almost took my life, relationships that tried to fill the void of worth, and addictions that engulfed who I was. Running from life like I was a wild child, while all along it was a illness that just needed to be named, cared for and accepted.

 

It has been a journey of many failed attempts.

First I tried my way. Alcohol. Men. Spend. Binge. Purge.Pot. Pills.

Something. Anything to numb the pain.

Hiding who I am. Masking the reality of the struggle.

It wasn’t until I found myself with charcoal being shoved down my throat at age 22 that I realized I needed to get my shit together. This wasn’t fun anymore. This wasn’t who I wanted to be.

 

And yet still. I didn’t wake up the next day and everything was rainbows and butterflies. It was more like “oh my God what do I do now?”

So I tried a different way.

Medications. Doctors. Herbalists. Chiropractors. Yogies. Therapists. Hospitals. Cleansing shakes. Believe me if they said it would help, I tried it.

 

But in reality, what needed to change is for me to live my truth sometimes out loud. And sometimes in the quiet. To not only admit that I deal with depression and anxiety but to learn what it means to heal in it. Not from it.  In it.

 

That in itself is just so freaking hard. Because if I am honest I get angry when I feel the depression start to show its ugly face. Or completely humiliated when I am in the middle of Trader Joe’s and I can feel the irrational fears take over my mind and I am frozen with panic next to the dried fruit. Or when I am at again another therapist’s office not just for myself but now for my children who of course inherited not just my hair but my genes.

And when you fill out the insurance papers and you have to admit that yes you tried to take your own life, but that was over twenty years ago, and why the heck does that matter now? It doesn’t. Don’t let other people tell you that your past tells us who you are now. No, your past tells us that the person standing in front of us today is a badass because she overcame and chose healing every single day. That’s what it tells us.

 

I have things in place now, in the healing. In the living in it and with it. I have a list of things that help me heal.

Water.

Nature.

Scripture.

Calm.

Quiet.

Naps. ( Jesus did it )

My therapist.

Worship.

Exercise.

Write.

My safe circle.( not EVERYONE on FB is safe, just saying)

Medication.

Whole Foods.

Reading.

Sunshine.

My husband.

Sleep.

 

When I feel overwhelmed and off balance I go back to this list. It is right next to my bed. Reminding me what it takes to be healthy, for me. Notice that media and Facebook are not on the list. They can actually be a huge trigger for me, also busyness. So being around people who are more task orientated rather than authentically connecting is very anxiety producing. I know. It may be strange. But my therapist says that I am very self aware of what I need and don’t need. So I will take it as a gift given by default of this illness.

 

Just the other day my person and I were talking about aching for Sabbath. We talk about alot of other things too, but this happened to be a God conversation. That we were both feeling life changing very quickly for us and wanting to not lose what actually feeds us, heals us. The Sabbath. It dawned on me as we were talking that perhaps all of these years I have had it all wrong. I have been seeing my debilitating depression as a burden. A burden that I didn’t want to carry. That I felt was given to me not out of chemicals but circumstances. A burden that felt too heavy to carry and times and made me throw many temper tantrums that it just wasn’t fair.

 

In that moment it caught my breath,perhap my depression was never meant to be a BURDEN but a BECKONING.

 

A beckoning to Sabbath. A beckoning for wholeness. For healing.

 

For Jesus. 

 

So maybe today sweet one you are just exhausted. Exhausted from carrying it all. All the pain. All the sorrow. All the grief. All the regrets. All the anger. All the injustice. All the sadness. And he is just beckoning you just to be near.

 

Come close….and heal. It is the bravest truth you can live. 

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Comments

  1. Yes! Beautiful! Amen.

  2. Jennifer says:

    So raw and beautiful. I can’t wait to meet you in October and just hug you. Can I do that? I’m not a hugger usually, but as I get older and wiser, hugging is great. Every one of us struggles with something deep, dark and ugly in their life. Those that find the comforting arms of Jesus are the ones that can find peace in the ugliness, they can share their light with others that are going through the darkness. Imagining Jesus holding you, dancing with you, just being with you is so powerful. Knowing that He’s got you, no matter what, is awesome. God bless you! YOU are amazing.

  3. Amanda prybylski says:

    Thank you, I am saving this to read again. I needed this. I need to figure all of this out.

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