As we transition into a New Year, these first months can be a time of fresh beginnings or positive resolutions. Yet, for many people, it can bring about despair, despondency, or depression. This month has a higher rate of suicides than at any other time of the year. For me personally, it can be a challenge transitioning to a new year. In the past I have battled with Depression...
DEPRESSION - Its often a common word we hear about a lot, and for me it I all started around age 17.
Looking back, I feel like depression and despair run in my family genes, yet they were a forbidden topics of discussion. Because of this, I feel like I didn't get the real help I needed soon enough.
Because of varying life changes from age 17-21, I had a lot of inner turmoil and struggle. Moving several times, changing continents and cultures, as well as emerging family dynamics, all contributed to my feelings of despondency and despair. Emotions such as hopelessness, anger, resentment, and fear were daily obstacles that I was trying to combat in my head. Some days they seemed insurmountable!
Some of the ways my depression manifested into physical/emotional symptoms were:
- tiredness and fatigue
- sadness and despondency
- anger (always being on edge, no matter what was going on around me)
- gaining weigh
- migraine headaches
- self doubt and negative thinking
- not having any motivation to do anything
During this time, thoughts of suicide frequented my mind. I had lost hopefulness and felt it better to leave this world. I had no purpose or view of what my future could be. It got so bad that I was fainting in settings where I felt overwhelmed and unable to function. I knew I needed help, yet was unsure of who/where to turn to.
I came up with an actual plan to kill myself and felt it was my only option to finally find peace. I had plenty of pills on hand and thought I could use those, then had doubts if it would work well enough. These doubts produced another plan: to jump off of a bridge. One day I found myself in my car, driving around searching for options that could put a permanent end to my agony.
I was afraid to let anyone in or be honest about exactly how bad things were in my head. Finally, in my desperation for things to change, I sought out help. I found the courage to contact my family and informed friends of my plan to end it all. Just reaching out showed that I wanted to find a solution.
Because I have never been good at faking it or acting like nothing was wrong, the people in my circle at the time had suspected that there were things bothering me, but they were unaware how low my depression had become. Each day felt heavy and hopeless, just surviving left me feeling frustrated and exhausted. Even after admitting how low I had gotten, it took a long time to find lasting relief. After seeing different counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and trying many different types of medicine, I was able to make progress, but continued to struggle off and on.
As I look back, I also realize that some of my issues were hereditary and chemical. The chemical/hormonal imbalances mixed with varying life changes and negative thoughts are what led me down this dark path for almost 20+ years.
Even after getting married I continued to struggle. Finally, after finding the right counselor who was able to help me get to the root of some of my issues, and come to peace with the past, I was able to start the process of healing my hurting soul. Discovering the right medicine that I needed to create a chemical balance helped me to function better on a daily basis. This process of ups and downs took me on a crazy roller coaster ride for years.
Becoming a Mom gave me a purpose.
Having 2 kids, 15 months a part, and becoming a stay at home mom, enabled me to learn more about myself and start accepting reality. I think becoming a mom, gave me a renewed purpose. Life wasn't just about me; there were people who needed me on a daily basis. As the years went by and I got older, I started recognizing the triggers of my negative thinking and how alternating seasons affected my depression. Having various tools on hand has proven to be helpful in dealing with these emotions...before I spiral out of control. Some of the things I have found helpful are:
- using meditation, reading a specific Psalm from the Bible and praying, yoga, breathing exercises, mantras, or reading inspirational books
- writing in a journal - just getting the negative thoughts out on paper helps free my mind from obsessing over them
- exercising - walking around the lake at Shelby Farms, even just twice a week, does wonders for my mood
- taking time for ME - something I still struggle with
- saying NO to things when I feel like there is too much going on or I am feeling overwhelmed- this means NO to things that my kids want as well
- finding BALANCE in life- often by serving others or giving of my time and talent to help minister as needed
- LETTING GO of my preconceived ideas of perfectionism - well that is BIG one; small baby steps...
Recently, I have observed my teenage son starting to have some of the same thoughts that I struggled with, and his comments have alerted me to become more vigilant with him now before things go any further. As a mom, and someone who has struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, I want to help him walk through the darkness by becoming a VICTOR not a VICTIM.
I am teaching him coping skills for the tough aspects of life. Depression can be a deep dark hole, easily sucking in its next victim. It is so important to notice the symptoms and triggers before it is too late. Talking about it and bringing awareness can make a difference.