Surrounded By Love and Grace

background-blur-close-up-810035“Are you okay? Is anything wrong? You seem different.” These are the phrases I repeatedly heard my senior year of high school. My parents were highly concerned about me and it wasn’t for another five years that I finally understood what was going on.
I was struggling with depression. It wasn’t until my early twenties, I finally reached out to my family doctor for help. I shared some of the things I was feeling and she agreed my best line of treatment would be medication. Even though she told me it may take 6-8 weeks to take effect, I was relieved to have some help. Medication helped me to finally feel like myself again. It’s now been twenty years that I’ve officially been diagnosed with depression and I can still say that it’s a struggle. It’s not a daily struggle, not weekly and sometimes not even monthly. For me, it definitely comes in waves and I never know when a flare is around the corner.
I have learned throughout the years how to navigate these waves. I have given myself permission to let go of my daily obligations and take care of myself. Sometimes that means eating as healthy as possible and being sure to get my workout in; but sometimes that means junk food and Netflix for 24 hours. To me, depression looks like a thief. She comes and robs me of my desires to do the things I love. She takes away the energy I need to tackle my daily life. Worst of all, she sucks all of the patience and understanding I have right out of me. I know the common perception of depression is sadness. For me, there’s a bit of that. But the biggest factor is irritability…. sometimes even rage. Imagine the most impatient person in your life. Now imagine she has lost her desires, energy and the will to even get out of bed. You can probably guess her tolerance level for anything outside of what is to be expected for the day. It’s pretty much nonexistent. And this is where my guilt comes in.
Before I had children, depression often robbed me and my husband of joy in our home. We fought a lot. He didn’t understand what I was going through and I didn’t have the patience to try to explain it to him. After I became a mom, depression changed. It took on a whole new level of guilt. I have these little people that I am responsible for and I worry that I will not be enough. From the time they were very young, I explained to them I had depression. I told them I have days where I am very sad, tired, or angry for no reason at all. I warn them my patience is very thin and I may act irrationally to some of their behavior. In their lifetime, I have apologized countless times. Something new my husband and I finally tried in the last year is couples counseling. It has been such a gift to us.
Our wonderful counselor has helped explain what I am going through in a way I never could. advise-answer-arrow-208494.jpgShe has helped my husband to understand that I don’t have control over the things going on in my mind or the feelings that stem from those thoughts. I have learned to let him know when I’m struggling as soon as I realize it. It helps us both be more aware of our actions and reactions. He usually gives me a little more space, picks up a lot of my responsibilities, and does all he can to support me.
For me and for my family, the single most important factor of mental illness has been grace. I have to give myself grace when I’m struggling. Grace to overlook laundry piling up, grace to be okay with fast food for my family again, and grace to forgive myself for the massive amounts of alone time I need. Everyone’s struggle with mental illness is different. And though I have had many trying times, I am so fortunate to be surrounded by love and grace every single day.

I am thankful for all of my guest contributors who allowed me to share their mental health journey.  I am also thankful for the many supporters who engaged and supported the dialogue.
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60 thoughts on “Surrounded By Love and Grace”

  1. This was a beautiful post. It made me feel like I connected to the person. Congratulations for you and your husband, I think that others aren’t so lucky. Their significant others would run to the hills, but not yours. I’m happy for you. Trying to look at the bright side here, but… In a way your kids are lucky. Because they learn from you what means to struggle, to fight against all odds. You’re a great mom, and they learn that people can’t be happy all the time. Depression isn’t something they can joke with in school and so on. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a great post! It really shows what depression can look like. I love the idea of having a guest post their experience…it normalizes depression and empowers others!.

  3. I have to say I am blessed that I have never really struggled with depression – and I thank my amazing support system for that and the fact that at a very young age my parents instilled a mindset in my that I have to this day! I am confident with who I am and don’t compare myself to others, which is really the #1 reason why people get depressed!

    1. A Support system definitely plays a huge factor in wellness, but it doesn’t always. Sometimes unfortunate things happen and there are underlining issues that has nothing to do with confidence, family support, etc…

  4. Such a brave post to share. Thank you so much for allowing us into your heart. As someone who has never really experienced depression it is hard to understand but I am so glad that articles like this exist that explain it so well.

  5. What a honest and raw post about the menace depression can bring. Thank you for sharing your journey. I imagine there are many out there who would be inspired to seek assistance after reading this.

  6. I have suffered through minor depression as well as anxiety. I never needed medications but I did need counseling. Sometimes I do agree that you have to do what you must to make yourself comfortable. Thanks for sharing this and showing how you navigate through the ups and downs.

  7. It is wonderful to have a support system and an understanding significant other. I appreciate anyone who can share their personal story. It is time that we get rid of the stigma that is associated with depression and just be as supportive and understanding as possible.

  8. I find the analogy with a thief very good as I tend to agree. Depression seems to step in and rob you from your power, your positivity and energy. A horrible thing to happen to people. Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. Tren I commend you on your bravery and strength. Like you, I also suffer from situational depression. It’s not an ongoing situation for me either. However, I love that you describe depression as a thief. Brilliant way of looking at depression.
    In my case, it is letting go of control and accepting that sometimes life is shitty. I now look at life as a work of art. It takes patience and time to develop before you can fully see the beauty.
    Thanks for sharing! I am looking forward to one day chatting with you over the phone.

  10. I always feel so lucky that I have never experienced this and hopefully never in the future! having a support I think is the most helpful. im close with my family and anytime I feel down I know they have ways to cheer me up, stay strong and good luck !

  11. This is such a powerful post. I am proud of you even though I don’t know you, well done on sharing something so deep and personal. I believe you being able to identify the depression and be self-aware is the fist step to any sort of improvement. I love that you also told your children as that will help them understand better. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Depression is a serious concern and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’m glad that her family stood by her and understood exactly what she was going through. This is a beautiful post that can inspire many to come out from their shell and seek assistance.

  13. This is such a beautiful post! So many people suffer it alone. I am proud of you for sharing something so deep and personal.

  14. You are spot on with this post once again. Depression can sneak up on us from out of no where, and I’ve found that more often than not, it’s NOT sadness, but more a lack of motivation and desire. Thanks for shedding light on such an important topic!

  15. Thank you for sharing your journey! I think the hardest thing to do sometimes is to finally ask for help! I wish I did when I was in high school & even at the beginning of college! We think we can do it all but sometimes it’s best to understand that we are only human & that it’s okay to accept help, in whatever way that may be!
    -Madi xo

  16. It’s so important to know that there is help. So many times we don’t talk about depression or urge loved ones to get help. We need to stop and focus on solving the problem.

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