Depression: Call It What It Is
“I felt sad.”
“I didn’t have energy to take care of my new little baby.”
“It should have been the happiest time of my life.”
“Somedays, I couldn’t even get out of bed, much less get dressed and take care of chores.”
“Nothing made it better.”
“I couldn’t make myself.”
The Battle Is Real
For years, I called myself lazy. There were periods of time when I struggled to get out of bed. I binge watched television shows and stayed in my pajamas. My house was a disaster and outside chores remained undone. I couldn’t make myself care.
After hearing the above phrases at a ladies retreat this weekend, some more pieces of the puzzle came together. For much of my life, I have battled seasons of depression.
I remember the first few months after my oldest son was born. Everything changed in such a beautiful way. But I was sad. Withdrawn. Isolated. And I had no idea how low I had gotten. My husband finally mentioned it and quickly my eyes opened to the fact that I had stopped socializing. I needed to be around others—especially my church family. But I was hiding in a dark hole that I didn’t even realize I had crawled into.
It’s easy to slip into depression after childbirth. We can use our new little bundle of joy as an excuse to hide from the world. Our bodies are doing crazy things and hormones are all over the place. Exhaustion comes into play as we are barely able to take care of the new baby, much less ourselves. Every step is hard. Every meal. Every thought. Every action. And the energy never seems to be enough.
My years as a young mom were a roller coaster ride of periods of depression. I didn’t have to leave the house some days and no interactions with other adults left me lonely and isolated. I made up a hundred excuses as to why I wouldn’t call a friend and schedule a play date. All my reasons centered around made-up insecurities that I allowed myself to believe. And soon, I was depressed again, berating myself along the way for being a bad mom and not doing enough to take care of my home and family.
These last two years, as we chased doctors and had other stressors in our lives, depression snuck in again undetected. Sadness came in waves, and my motivation often wanes.
But I’ve learned a few things that really help when I see myself headed for a nosedive. First, I call it by its name—depression. Then I look at ways to bring structure back into my life. Routines are a huge help when I am depressed.
Next, I make sure exercise is happening and if it isn’t, I call friends to meet me to walk. Or I play a sport, like pickleball, where I must engage in order for the game to be successful. I never exercise alone, anymore; especially when I am struggling.
Then I talk about it. Depression feeds on isolation and hiding. I find a friend and tell them I’m struggling and if I know how they can help I tell them. If not, I listen to their suggestion and make myself accept their help. Recently, I was struggling to read my bible each morning. Concentration is hard some days. A dear friend offered to read the same chapters I was reading each day and we agreed to talk about what we learned throughout the week. She knew I needed help and I knew I couldn’t let her down by not reading. Accountability is a big piece of working through depression.
Some days, I set small goals. Some days, I feel better and set larger ones. And other days, I have to force myself to take every single step.
Depression looks different in every person’s life. For me, it’s seasonal and there are periods of time when I am victorious and other times when I’m struggling hard. For other people, it might be lifetime depression that requires medication and deeper treatment.
Now It’s Your Turn
More people struggle with depression than would ever admit it. Won’t you be brave and talk about it? Would you call a friend and tell them you think you’re depressed? Will you call a counselor and stop living in excuses? Are you ready to fight for the hope that you are dearly missing? Today’s the day, my friend. Don’t struggle alone.