Today is a difficult day. It began just like the rest. Crawling out of bed, later than usual. Opening the door to see my little boy playing nicely with toys on the ground….all over the ground. He had emptied boxes and boxes of toys so he could gather them around him as he sits in the middle. My child is my happiness most days, but today it’s hard.
We eat our breakfast, listen to music, and start to play. The monotony of it all gets to me, and I turn on the TV for a little Mommy Time. The rest of the day is filled with hugs, kisses, tears, screams, and then some. By the days end, I’m exhausted. I’ve yelled one too many times, spanked when I didn’t really want to spank, and cried. The common denominator in my head is that I am not enough.
“Am I really happy?” I question. “Should I be a stay-at-home mom or get a job? We need the money desperately, but I love being with my kiddo….er, at least I think I do…” The anxieties of today and tomorrow fill my brain. I say and do things I hate to see myself say and do. I feel torn apart. I can’t seem to wake up on time. I’m always tired. Dishes and laundry have been about the only things I can do in our apartment because my energy is gone. I’m tired and drained all of the time. I look at the 3 ft high weeds that have been on my list of to do’s for weeks, and I can’t make myself go out there and cut them.
Is it laziness? Nah…I wish it were. I’ve been lazy before, but I can find the motivation to get things done when they need to be. Is it just the exhaustion from being in my first trimester? That may play a role, but honestly, I know what it is. I’ve seen this before. I’ve felt the same drowning sensation before. I have felt the monotony when life was perfect before. So what is it? Depression.
I almost hate to say it because it feels like admitting I am depressed gives this mental illness power. I feel like I am giving it power to take over my life. I am giving it power to consume the good all around me. I am giving it power to take away the things I love to do and the people I love to be around. But this time it’s different.
See, weeks ago, I felt great! I had a blog that was getting more views every day. I was able to spend time with my boy, cuddle with him, and receive those incredible kisses! I would run after him on this tennis court out back. I may be overweight, but I was feeling fitter and more confident. My hubby and I were in a really good spot, just living life together and getting through it all. We had been trying to conceive our second, and we finally did!
But with that conception came a return to depression. I felt it creeping in with the return of my hormonal emotions. I began crying at silly TV shows. “Oh it’s just my preggo hormones…” I told myself. But day after day I felt more lonely. I felt further away from family and God. I tried to pull myself through, but it was grabbing me and pulling me under. I stopped writing. I used my exhaustion as an excuse for everything….which wasn’t too far off since depression makes one feel weak. That’s when I admitted depression is depression whether it starts with pregnancy hormones or not. I am depressed.
I have had depression in the past. I know just how bad it can get. Last time, I had gotten to a place where I had held in my emotions about so many life events for so long that it started to corrode my soul. I stopped feeling anything. I began to feel separate from my body (dissociating). When I did feel something, I would just hurt and be overwhelmed with tears. I remember one day I drove myself to class, didn’t know how I had gotten there, and just began crying in the car. There was no real trigger for my depression. It was just the result of years and years of pent up emotions coming out.
Before I go on, let me remind you that I have had Masters level training in counseling. This is important because I feel like many counselors experience mental illness first hand and that’s what brings us to the field itself. Also, many are afraid or ashamed of going to a therapist. First, no one is going to judge….especially because, most likely, your therapist has dealt with similar issues personally before. Also, if you were to get sick or suffer from a broken bone, you wouldn’t think twice about going to the doctor. Why is it so different for mental illness? It is not weakness. You are not “crazy.” And even therapists can struggle with it throughout their lives.
Back then, I saw my doctor and she prescribed me with anti-depressants. About a year later, I went to a therapist. She was great. She helped me move through my depression and heal myself. While I was in this time of working on myself, I began to make art for my art classes that demonstrated the look and feel of depression. Some of my most beautiful and haunting images have come from my experience with mental illness.
That’s why this time, it isn’t scary to me. I know I will make it through. I have so many good people and good things in my life that help me stay afloat. These things also remind me to keep fighting for my best life and to keep taking care of myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. They all play a part in our overall well being. Even if we have been taking good care of ourselves, we can become hormonally and chemically imbalanced which may cause some cases of depression. In these times, just watch out for it so you know when to get help.
The purpose of this article is to help you see that depression is real, and it can come on at any time. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, but we do need to take steps to help ourselves. Here are a list of things to try to help ease depression and/or anxiety if you suffer from it.
10 Ways to Beat Depression
- Create. Make something. Crochet, learn how to sew, paint, color a coloring book, or build something. Don’t worry about things turning out perfect. The act of creation is just as powerful as the end product.
- Take a walk. It doesn’t have to be long. Maybe walk for 10 to 15 minutes if you are really not feeling up to it. Physical activity and nature can stimulate the happy neurons! Let’s make them jump for joy with this one!
- If you feel like you need to cry and let it go, put on some sad music or a sad movie and go to town. Crying can allow you to safely release some of your pent up emotions.
- Hit something! Ok I don’t actually mean hit something, but if you are a person who finds relief from exercising hard or punching the air, Tae Bo is great for that! Take a long run, try some kickboxing, or even dance away your blues!
- Pray and read the Bible. If you are religious, you need God. He is trustworthy. He is helpful. He needs to hear your truth and pain. Tell Him! Just talking out loud to Him about your problems may bring you relief or peace.
- Write in a journal. If you are not one to create, writing your feelings may help. Keep a journal and write in it every night. Even if you don’t feel like you have much to say. This will help you manage those intense emotions and see what might be triggering your feelings.
- Eat healthy and get your sleep! These are much needed practices for good health. Believe it or not, but sleep and healthy eating are directly connected to your happy neurons. Ever eat too much junk and feel crabby or tired? How about after not getting your 8 hours of sleep in? I know that does it for me.
- Spend time with people you care about. Talk with people you feel safe with. Just being in social settings can help you take your focus off of your problems. It may even help you get a few things off of your chest while hearing a new perspective about your situation.
- Get a massage, meditate, or do yoga! Try a new activity. Do something that is out of your ordinary, but that is relaxing. All of these can release the tension in your mind and in your body.
Finally, talk to a professional. My best advice is to find a good counselor and try talking to him/her about your depression. Explain how you are feeling and what kind of triggering situations your life might hold. If the therapist feels your depression may lessen with medicine, he/she can refer you to someone knowledgeable who can write the prescription. Remember that most anti-depressants take a month to build up enough in your system for you to feel much of a difference. It takes time, but it can be worth it!
All of these are safe for pregnant women, and as long as your mental health professional knows you are expecting, they can refer you to the right person for medication. Medications are not completely risk-free, but many of them are considered safe to take during pregnancy. If you feel like medication isn’t the right thing for you, tell your counselor and he/she will make sure to work with you.
Just remember that life doesn’t have to be like this. Depression can be temporary. It may return later in life, but you will know your body and how to work with it. Don’t be afraid of mental illness, just work with it in order to live your best life!