I am once again participating in Sometimes Sweet’s weekly journal prompts, and this week the prompt is:
We all encounter challenges on a daily basis. You may consider yours something small, like having enough time in the day to accomplish everything you set out to do, or it may be a bit bigger- perhaps something you have to overcome mentally or emotionally, or even a struggle when dealing with a difficult person. Whatever the case, take a look at your daily life- what would you say is your biggest challenge? Or if you have a past struggle you were able to overcome, how did you do it? This week, write about a challenge you currently deal with on a day to day basis, or discuss one you managed to get past.
I bounced back and forth on whether or not I would share what I have actually struggled with for the majority of my life, or if would choose something that felt more “safe” and less personal. I suppose part of the idea of these prompts is to dig deeper, though, so I’ll go with my gut and talk about the thing that first came to mind, which is the black dog that has been following me around since I was a teen. (One of the best books I’ve seen that simply and accurately describes what depression feels like).
First a little background, though, beginning somewhere in the middle when things took a turn for the better.
I couldn’t tell you what was different about Memorial Day weekend of 2007, but despite the shining sun and perfect temperature, I felt nothing but cold, alone, and lost. It felt as though I were destined to continue living under a black cloud that seemed inescapable despite the therapy that I had undergone and the numerous prescription cocktails that my psychiatrist had prescribed over the years. For so long I had been struggling alone because I didn’t know how to ask for help from family or friends. How do you tell the people you love the most that you are hurting and tired and ready to give up? I couldn’t do it, but I also knew I wasn’t ready to give up – not really. Though I couldn’t see a future for myself, I knew there had to be one. I hit a breaking point and drove myself to an acute treatment center and admitted myself for psychiatric care. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and yet I felt like such a weight was lifted once it was done.
My breakthrough led me to treatment that enabled me to deal with a fairly constant struggle with Major Depressive Disorder, even to this day. For a long time I was on anti-depressants, but was determined to get off of them before I got pregnant, so I did. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I knew that while I couldn’t control my brain chemistry, I could control some of my triggers and I knew there was always a light at the tunnel. I had seen it, even when it was nothing but a pinprick, but that’s enough for me. I know that no matter how badly I may relapse, I can always find my way out again. Granted, sometimes I can’t do it alone, which is why I’m back on medications after giving birth to Phoebe. I had enough sense to know I wasn’t getting out of the tunnel without a lifeline this time around. It’s temporary, though.
While some days it is a very hard struggle, I’ve come to just accept it as a part of my life, and thankfully Josh has accepted it as well. I know it isn’t always easy for him when I’m having a bad day (or week or more) and he’s left to pick up the pieces when I have difficulty functioning. Time and experience have made me more aware of myself, though, and I think self-awareness is key. I know that while I’m a planner, I can only look ahead so far into the future otherwise I tend to get carried away and cause myself unnecessary anxiety and worry. One question I’ve always hated at interviews is “Where do you see yourself in five years” because of how much anxiety it gives me. Silly, right? So, one of the things I try to do is stay present and in the moment, but also challenge myself to look ahead with an open mind and without fear of the unknown.
While I know many people rely on medications to help them with their illnesses (which is perfectly fine and acceptable), it is my goal to once again get off prescription drugs and focus not only on my mental health, but my physical health since they are obviously interconnected and if one suffers, so does the other. The hardest part is time, or lack thereof. It seems like there is so little time in the day and my attention is pulled in so many different directions. Ultimately I’ll have to change my priorities and use my time as wisely as possible, figuring out what will make the most difference for my physical and mental wellbeing. It’s worth it, though… I’m worth it, and so is my family.