Yes, if you couldn’t finish the sentence don’t worry I plan to finish it down here. The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For me, this is something that hits home quite deeply. But, I feel that just like the unfinished title, Mental Health Awareness is too, unfinished, unheard, and often silenced by stigmas.
I have been writing this blog post for about four years now and each time I write it in my notes I end up trashing it because honestly who wants to openly talk about personal struggles? Maybe some of you do, but for me, it is really hard. I have always been seen as someone who has it together and the thought of people realizing that I don’t scares me. I know there are only a few days left in May but I have literally been fighting myself on posting this because it is a piece of my life that I tend to keep in the dark. But, I truly believe that when we share our stories and experiences, great things happen and breakthrough begins. If I can save or change ONE life from sharing my journey, then I am at peace.
The “D” Word.
Depression is something I have struggled with since I was a teenager. I could never really identify it because I one, thought it was normal and two, I wasn’t educated on what exactly depression was. I remember going through months at a time really asking myself, “is it even worth it anymore?” and by “it” I mean life. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I would sleep for hours on end and I truly felt like nothing mattered and that no one would even care if I was around or not. Sounds extreme right? Probably. But, honestly, during that time it seemed normal. I struggled with self-image and positive self-talk. I never felt good enough. Despite being an athlete as a teenager and even playing a semester in college, and being in pretty great shape, It still was not enough. I was either “too skinny” or “too fat.” I never felt fullfilled. Nothing ever was enough and the pressure to be a “D1 Athelte”, and all of these other labels that people in my life put on me really crippled my identity.
As you can imagine, that brokenness and self hate that I had harbored unfortunately carried over to my adult life. It wasn’t as noticeable and I felt I was so good at hiding it because I spent years doing it. (So I thought.) At this point in life, I was engaged and attending a church that my husband and I served on the leadership team for. I remember this specific night they were releasing a new song a couple on the worship team wrote. It was called “Unfailing Love.” I remember when I first began to hear the words I began to choke up and cry, it was like literal chains in my soul began to break. It was the first time in my life that I lifted my hands in worship and surrendered my heart to God. I felt free. I felt like the expectations of what others thought I should’ve been or should be no longer mattered. It was the first time in my life, the negative thoughts in my mind turned off.
Fast forward to being pregnant, I was one of the lucky individuals who experience all of the pregnancy symptoms. I was sick nearly the whole time and it took a toll on me emotionally and physically as you can imagine. During the last two months of my pregnancy, I gained a ton of weight rapidly. I felt myself slipping back to the insecure teenager I once was. I literally could not stand looking at myself, which again led to anxiousness and depressive thoughts. Fast forward again to two weeks postpartum, I remember sitting downstairs in my basement holding my baby and just sobbing and feeling this utmost sadness. It was like someone broke my heart. My OB said it was called the “baby blues.” I felt alone and I felt that if I reached out that I would be perceived as “weak” or not a great mother. Side note: isn’t it crazy how the enemy wants you to believe so many lies? To the mothers reading this, You are not alone. You are a great mother and you are so loved.
Remember how I mentioned I felt so alone? The craziest thing about that feeling is that I was never actually alone. I had and currently have tons of people in my corner that love and support me. I have a phenomenal husband who I literally to this day thank God for because he is so amazing. But, despite having a support system, I still felt alone. I still felt like no one understood.
For me, I had to literally change my thoughts and habits. I was so comfortable living a dysfunctional life inside of my head that anything other than that was foreign and beyond uncomfortable. I began to rekindle my relationship with God and I began to TALK TO PEOPLE. I had to let go of the fear of rejection and get help. When I say “had” I literally mean it. I have had so many friends that I went to school with commit suicide over depression. I saw what it did to my friends and their families and I did not even want to get to that point. I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t been close or that I haven’t thought about it in the past, because I have. What I can say is that those thoughts don’t even cross my mind anymore. I literally won’t allow the enemy to make me second guess my life. Not today, Satan. Not. Ever. Again.
Don’t give up;
Every day isn’t easy, and some days life is hard, but it is important to take life one day at a time. Every day that I wake up with a heartbeat, I am reminded that I am here to serve a purpose. I am reminded that my husband and my sweet baby girl need me and that for me is enough to keep going. I am proof that we are only defined by what we allow ourselves to be defined as. Sure, I have struggled with depression, but it is not who I am and it surely is not who you are. If you are reading this, please know that you are loved. Your life matters. People do care & God loves you. The thoughts in your head telling you otherwise are complete lies. Focus on the truth and know that you are not alone. Don’t give up!