Well it’s May and that means National Mental Health Awareness Month! So sticking with the theme I wanted to touch a little bit on my own mental health and how I have tried to help pull myself out of slumps of depression.
First of all, let’s be completely honest. Depression is not something that you can just turn off whenever you are ready. After my dad passed I went through many different stages of grief, I still am. But the full blown depression just sort of snuck up on me. I didn’t even realize it happened. It took over my life. When my boyfriend started to bring it up, I saw had bad it had become. The problem was that I couldn’t fix it. No matter how desperately I wanted to feel better so that it would stop hurting TJ (my boyfriend). He was scared at what he was witnessing happen right before his very eyes. I had become a shell of my former self. I have always LOVED my sleep and been someone that wants to lounge in bed whenever possible but it had taken on a whole new life. It was now a case of it being nearly impossible for me to get out of bed. My body and brain wouldn’t let me. I was exhausted ALL the time. Even though I hadn’t done anything. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. Texts were bothersome. I reluctantly got out of bed for work, but only because I absolutely had to. And then somehow I managed to fake my way through my days. There were some people who noticed a difference, but not enough to see the real level I had reached.
So how did I pull myself out of it? My sister asked me this very question about a month ago because she was trying to find a way to help herself as well. The truth is I’m not really sure that I did it. I’m feeling more myself and getting back to my “normal” life as much as possible. I just don’t know that it’s anything I did. I know I felt that I had to get better for TJ. When he told me that he was worried that he was losing the girl he fell in love with, it scared me. He said that I used to have such an energy and a presence and it was breaking his heart to see me wither away to this recluse, broken person. I think it was the words I needed to fight out of my fog. He would tell me that I had to get out of bed and go outside, even if it was just to take a short walk or sit on the back porch. Just something. My dad taking his life will always be a part of me, always make me sad, and always make me want to share my story to try and help others. But it doesn’t have to keep me from living my life. One day I just woke up feeling a little lighter. I believe that it’s what I did next with that feeling that helped get me back on the path of living.
When I woke up feeling a little lighter, a little more myself, I could have continued to do what I had been doing every other day; lay in bed all day, all night. Instead, I chose to get up, clean up around the house some, and then clean up myself. I had been living in pajamas (something I totally do whenever I’m home because I want to be comfortable) and refusing to go anywhere because it meant putting real clothes on. Being depressed had me putting on the pounds as well. I’ve never had good eating habits and being so down certainly didn’t help! So I was never wanting to get dressed because I didn’t fit into most of my clothes anymore. It was a vicious cycle. Felt too uncomfortable in my skin to wear real clothes, but staying in my pj’s only made me glued to my bed. But that day, the day I felt a little lighter, I decided that TJ and I should do a date night because it was Friday and I was feeling a little more me. I spent my day dancing around the house listening to Ed Sheehan and my mood lifted a little more. I put my contacts in, straightened my hair, did my make-up, and even wore heels! It seems so simple, getting dressed for date night. But it was something I hadn’t done in a while. I had no energy or will to do it. That small act influenced my whole attitude for the night. It put things in motion to return to a more “normal” life. It gave me back my will!
I’m not sure why I woke up that Friday feeling a little lighter. I just know I’m thankful. I’m thankful for a caring boyfriend who loved me on my darkest days. I’m thankful for his awareness of the situation and desire to help me. And I’m mostly thankful for the fight. Because today, depression isn’t winning!