Day Ten: Getting Real About Depression
Day 10: In Chapter Seven of You Are Enough, I talk about my experience with spiraling into clinical depression. Talk about your own experiences with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health struggle. If you haven’t been affected personally, share your insights into how you stay mentally healthy.
You never know what the final straw is going to be that pushes you from teetering on the edge of depression to full-blown depression. I battled clinical depression in my mid-20s, which I’ve written about at length, and fought my way back successfully to a place of well-being and emotional stability. I went through another, much less severe bought of depression a few years ago that I documented in my book Beautiful Uncertainty. What I can see, now, looking back, is that I never quite healed from that second run-in. Having the man I had loved for almost a decade (Mr. E) look me in the eyes and tell me with little emotion that he didn’t love me, didn’t want to be with me, and was no longer even attracted to me was hugely emotionally damaging. More so than I even realized at the time. I can remember barely crying after he left my house that day. It was like I shut myself down completely and never allowed myself to contend with the fallout of his rejection. And yet, in 2014, six months almost to the day that he delivered his emotional blow, I started having severe heart palpitations completely and totally out of the blue. The doctors ran every test imaginable. I wore a heart monitor for a few days. I saw a cardiologist. And every last physical ailment was ruled out. Meaning, the heart palpitations were happening as a result of overwhelming emotions I wasn’t ready for or prepared to deal with at the time. Or, as my therapist said just the other day when we were discussing it, my heart was, quite literally, broken. And instead of dealing with it and facing the grief head on, I was attempting to do my usual “pull myself up by the bootstraps” act and find the silver lining of my sadness and move on with my head held high, like the confident woman I projected to the world I was.
Only I wasn’t that woman anymore. I wasn’t sure who I was.
Couple all that with my brother-in-law’s near fatal accident and the strain on my family, leaving my publisher of four years and facing career uncertainty, and now dealing with yet another romantic disappointment after an online dating relationship went south, and I was just flattened. Spent. I had nothing left in the emotional reserves. I felt depleted and defeated. And I felt completely and overwhelmingly inadequate. Like I was hopelessly broken and flawed. Not enough for my ex, not enough for my publisher, not enough for my friends or my readers or anyone at all.
I felt like nothing. Like a waste of space. As I imagine some of you have felt before and might be feeling right this moment, as you read this.
I’d like to be able to tell you some quick and easy fix for how I swiftly kicked my depression’s butt and reclaimed my life again, but it didn’t work that way this time. This time I was doubting everything about myself. This time the depression was all-consuming and encompassing every aspect of my life.
As many of you in your 30’s and beyond who are still single can attest to, after awhile, after a certain amount of relationships crash and burn, you just start to feel like you’re inherently flawed and destined for a life alone. You look around and on Facebook and see the images of happy couples and families, and you feel like you will always be on the outside, looking in. You start to question why finding love is so easy for them and so hard for you. And all the inspirational quotes and self-help books and pep talks from your girlfriends don’t seem to fill that empty void created by the love you want so badly that somehow keeps eluding you.
The Bible says “Unrelenting disappointment makes the heart sick. But a sudden good break can turn it around,” (Proverbs 13:12, MSG). I was facing one unrelenting disappointment after another in the fall of 2016, and my heart was most definitely sick.
But what if I needed to get down to absolutely nothing to realize that I was EVERYTHING?
“You had the power all along, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself,” said Glinda the Good Witch to Dorothy Gale from Kansas.
The tornado was raging through my life and the light was growing more dim by the minute.
But I would soon discover that the light was in me, all along.
(Just as it is in you.)
You can read more about my battle with and recovery from depression in my new book You Are Enough: Heartbreak, Healing, and Becoming Whole, available at any bookstore or order it here.
And you can join in my #30DayBloggingChallenge at any time! If you don’t have a blog, feel free to share your stories each day on any of your social media platforms, or even use the space in the comments below. Just make sure you tag your posts #YouAreEnough30 so we can all follow each other’s journeys!