I awoke the other morning, early, as always with Cooper ready to eat that first bottle. She sucks it down so fast sometimes I wonder how she doesn’t make herself sick. As I watch her fall back into that full-bellied, morning sleep, I get ready to lie back down and get a few more hours for myself. Sometimes I just sit there for a while and rub her sweet little peach-fuzzed head. Other times, in pure exhaustion, I lay her right back down and climb back into bed.
On this particular morning, I started thinking, which means I won’t go back to sleep for a while or even at all. Since I’ve shared my story of the depression I have been facing, I have been so surprised and encouraged by the comments, emails and facebook messages from those who know the struggle first hand and from those who simply care for what I am facing. It is empowering to share that kind of dark situation and as each email or text or message would come in, it would make me feel lighter. Just knowing someone stand with you can make a difference in how you feel.
Today is not such a good day but it seems now that my good days slowly but surely are outweighing the bad days in this fight. I wanted to share some things I’ve been doing that have helped me. Sharing the blog helped so much; just getting the words on paper and out of my head seemed to help me more than I could have imagined it would.
While there are days like today when I am feelin’ a lot like Eeyore, my depression manifests itself more in anxiety and anger. There are times that once I get mad, I cannot seem to get myself settled down and get back on track. I have a good friend who has battled depression for years, obviously not postpartum but depression none the less. He gave me some good tips for handling anxiety attacks and what to do at the onset of feeling the anger start. The things that have helped me the most is to play music LOUDLY in my headphones at my desk and to just get up and walk away from the office and take five minute walks to clear my head.
On that particular morning, as I lay there trying to go back to sleep, God kept showing me a sky filled with balloons that had been released. I remembered a Sunday morning where my friend Alicia came up to me and prayed for me and spoke some truths into my life that I needed. There were parts of me that I truly was not trusting to God and not only did I have to give Him the battle I am facing, but I have to trust Him that He knows what is best for me, depressed or not. As we prayed together, I felt a release in my spirit. I knew that while the depression did not disappear or miraculously go away, I released the hold it had on me. I released the grip of it telling me I can’t make it through this storm or that when I have two or three ‘bad days’ in a row it means I have failed or lacked faith.
As I watched those balloons racing toward heaven, I wondered why we can’t let go of fear and anger and stress like those balloons and let it float away. The Bible teaches us in Psalm 121:1 “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from which comes my help.” When we let go and look up, that is where our help is. Instead, usually, we are like those little kids at the fair who get a balloon from the electric company and let it go and as soon as it’s out of arms reach, they start to jump for it, to bring it back to them. They cry and fuss and don’t understand that unless your dad is pretty tall, when you let go of it, it’s gone. I want that, I yearn for that, I want that sweet release where it all just floats away and I don’t try to grab it back because it’s familiar. I don’t want to be seen on the sidewalk jumping up and down trying to pull it out of the sky because trusting God is harder than holding onto anxiety.
I’m not totally there yet, and to be honest, I don’t know when I will be. I don’t believe that depression is just a ‘spiritual’ or ‘mental’ thing. It makes me sad when people equate depression with ‘craziness’ or someone who needs to get the devil off your back. I believe the life we’ve lived and the things we’ve endured shape our brain and our hearts and sometimes, life is just too much and depression is the result. So today, while I am feeling all Eeyorish (pretty sure that’s not a word) I’m going to look at my babies face and smile anyway. I am going to close my eyes and picture visions of those balloons floating away and let my sadness go with them. I am going to do what I do every day, put one foot in front of the other and carry on.