I got a phone call from someone very dear to me the other day. She felt really down and in a dark place. It took me back to a time when I struggled badly with depression myself.
It started in 2009 when I was a new military wife with a husband who was gone A LOT. We had just gotten married and had recently moved away from my family in Nebraska for the first time to the rainy and gloomy Seattle, WA area. I also just had my first child.
I felt alone.
I felt sad.
I felt depressed.
Let me tell you from experience, that is the worst feeling in the world. I had this cloud over me all of the time. I was in a funk and just couldn’t shake it.
I felt like I had nothing to look forward to.
I had just experienced the most exciting season of my life so far-college graduation, engagement, planning a wedding, a honeymoon to Fiji, a fresh new start with my new husband in a completely new part of the country. I was on cloud 9!
But, then it suddenly all changed. REALITY KICKED IN! The sunny days were behind me and my days were now covered with rain clouds.
I felt like I had abandoned my friends and family to move across the country for a life that I DID NOT LIKE! I hated that my husband was gone so much and that I had nobody to talk to or hang out with and that my best friend drooled and drank out of a bottle. Oh, wait! I did have one more friend….but, she ate doggy bones and didn’t talk much…okay, not at all.
I can’t believe I’m admitting this (especially online) but, I feel like we are friends-we’re friends, right? Here it goes…
I strongly remember this moment when I was laying on the couch and in the peak of one of those “bad” days. My son was just waking up and started crying. I remember feeling like the last thing I wanted to do was get up and have to take care of the baby alone AGAIN! Why couldn’t my husband help out ever? Why did I have to do this 230912 miles away from my mom when most people have their mom just a phone call away to come help? And, why was it dark, gloomy and raining AGAIN!?!?! I glanced over and saw Lexi (my Yorkie) and caught myself thinking how much I wished she could help me. Is that pathetic or what? Like she could actually change a diaper or warm up a bottle. I had depression.
I remember a time when my son and I were Skyping my mom. She accidentally took a screenshot of us talking (web cams were fairly new at the time.) I later saw this picture. My shoulders were sagging, my head hung low and the horrible sad look on my face was a rude awakening to the severity of my depression.
Even when my family flew out for a weekend visit, I was so down I wasn’t even able to have fun or enjoy their company. I faked that I was tired and not feeling well so that I could lay in the hotel room alone while they all went to the beach. I imagined their life without me in it. Depression.
I know I was an amazing mom. My son was never in danger. He was never neglected. He was always loved. I put my son first and fought through this depression. Not for me, but for him.
But…it…took…all…of…me! There was nothing left.
My son was the ONLY thing that kept me going. And, to this day, he has such a special place in my heart because we got through that season together-just him and I.
I knew something needed to change.
I tried going to the doctor but that was of no help at all. They said nothing was wrong with me. So, I assumed it was just in my head. Eventually, I tried counseling. After pouring my heart out and explaining my situation. She just looked at me and basically said, “yeah, that’s hard. I can see why you are depressed.” I didn’t go back.
Once again, I felt like I was on my own.
It was then, that I found a local MOPS group (Mothers Of Preschoolers.) I had seen the sign posted outside of this church just off of the highway and had driven by it several times. I finally decided to give it a chance. What did I have to lose, right?
This group and these women changed my life!
Immediately, I was surrounded by that “family” that I didn’t have locally. I heard stories from other moms that described exactly how I felt. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t the only mom who felt this way! Instead of just being told, “yeah that’s rough,” these women actually had advice because they had been there. Some of them were still fighting through it like me!
They gave me a sense of comfort I wasn’t able to find elsewhere.
I had a chance to get a little break from being “mom” and could just be Lacy. I had the opportunity to enjoy some hot coffee and a breakfast that I didn’t have to cook (which was always incredible!) We also were able to make a fun craft each meeting-some of which I still have even. Best of all, I could always count on an amazing speaker who knew just what to say to lift my spirits and remind me that I COULD DO THIS!
Through the love of these fellow moms, I truly felt for the first time in a long time, God’s arms wrapped around me and whispering in my ear that:
I WASN’T ALONE-HE WAS WITH ME!
If you are a new mom, or even just a mom in general and you are struggling with depression, PLEASE know that you are not alone.
Your friends on Facebook and the mommy blogs might all look like they have it all together. But in reality, we all face times when we think we aren’t good enough. We all struggle with “keeping it together.” Nobody is the perfect mom no matter how much we portray it online.
And, believe me-YOU CAN DO THIS MOMMA!
Here are a few things you can do to help raise your spirits.
- Connect: Get connected with the people around you. If you don’t have a group of friends or you are like me and didn’t have family near by, find a group like MOPS or a bible study group, a mommy playdate group…anything to get you talking to other ADULTS! Trust me-it helps!
- Get Active: Once I started feeling better, I joined the YMCA. Living where it rained almost every day, I couldn’t count on outdoor time so the gym was a good option for me. There was childcare too so that was a WIN! Just being active and giving myself something else to focus on really helped me.
- Serve Others: Before too long, I was asked to be on the leadership team for MOPS. Being able to serve others gave me something that made me feel good about myself. I felt valuable again.
- Focus on the Now: This is one I still struggle with from time to time. But, focusing on what you are doing NOW and not worrying about later or the next day or next week, can really help ease some of those worrisome thoughts that can lead you right down that path to depression.
- Stay Positive: Keeping a positive attitude can really change the way you view life and how you handle situations. Try to find the good in each thing and don’t dwell on the crappy stuff!
- Pray: Most importantly, give your burdens to Christ. Let Him take control and take that worrisome burden off of your shoulders. Find the peace that He can give you! There is a future and a hope through Him!
If you need additional resources, here are some you may find useful:
Here is a GREAT list of resources for many situations: https://brokenbelievers.com/2011/01/23/247-crisis-lines/
Here is a list of some of the best scriptures related to depression: http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/depression-bible-verses/
Friends, if you are struggling with depression right now, take it from someone who’s been there….it can get better. You-yes YOU can be happy again!
Today is a fresh day. It can be a fresh new start. Get active today. Get involved. Serve others. Focus on TODAY. Stay positive. PRAY!
Your best is yet to come and it can start NOW!
I pray you can find the new happiness I have found once I was ready to let go of those crappy lies I told myself. Lies that did nothing but bring me down.
I’m proud to say depression is a thing of the past for me and it can be for you too!
With hugs and lots of Aloha,
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