I sat down last week and asked myself, “what do you want this blog to be?” I wrote down some words that came to mind:
With that in mind, I decided to write this post.
I have struggled with depression for about ten years now. I know at this point in my life that it’s something that is a part of my genetic makeup, something that will always be there, and something that I need to manage in a healthy way.
The onset of my depression came after a rough breakup in college. I had been with the person I thought I would spend my life with, and it ended in the most heartbreaking way possible. I had once defined myself with this relationship – that and being a soccer player – and when I transferred to a new college my sophomore year, both of those things were gone.
For a while I figured the feelings were normal and the extreme sadness I felt was a symptom of heartbreak. However, six months went by. I wasn’t eating, I was drinking way too much, and I slept as much as I could. I wasn’t taking care of myself in the slightest. My grades were slipping and I was a pretty miserable human.
I knew I wanted to feel better, but I also didn’t know how. I don’t remember how I got in touch with a therapist, but I did, and it changed everything.
Within a few weeks, I was on Prozac for the first time in my life. I was on a low dose, but it was the kick-start I needed to start to take control of my life. That second semester of sophomore year I had the best GPA I would have in college, I was making friends, and I was running miles at a time.
I was quite proud of myself for “getting over” depression. But over the years, it has returned over and over again.
Sometimes, life events seem to set it off – losing a job, a stressful situation, a big change. Sometimes, it’s seasonal. And sometimes, it’s for no good reason at all.
Last summer, I felt the familiar feel of depression creep back into my life. I was moody, irritable, generally unhappy. I had so much going for me – I was pregnant! – and I wasn’t looking forward to anything. I was waking up in the morning just to tell myself to get through the day and I’d be back in bed soon enough.
David came to me and brought all of this to my attention. He knew something was up, something beyond the normal pregnancy stuff. I didn’t want to admit that another bout of depression had set in, this time at one of the highest points in my life.
When Reese was born, I felt relief. I felt peace for the first time in months. I realized then that my job was weighing on me, and with some distance from it, I would have the strength to start to take control again.
At my six week postpartum visit, my doctor prescribed Prozac once again. This is the fourth time in my adult life I’ve been on anti-depressants, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I fought it hard this time around, really not wanting to use the medicine as a crutch. But almost as soon as I started taking them I wondered why I had put it off for so long.
Even though I’m not ashamed to talk about depression and my battle with it, it’s still difficult to admit to myself that I have it. I think the inevitability of knowing that it will always be there is overwhelming.
My battle with depression is mild in comparison to some, but it’s still my battle. It’s taken time to recognize it and understand what it will do to me and those around me. I hate using it as an excuse, but truly, it does affect my relationships.
So what else am I doing about it?
Well, I know that physical activity is my number one priority when I am feeling down. It’s ironic that as much as I put it off because I feel exhausted and fatigued, it is one of the main things that helps with my mood and overall well being. In the same vein, eating clean is such a game changer! Before I got pregnant with Reese, I was counting my macronutrients every day and I was feeling phenomenal. I’m trying to get back into those habits.
I also find that talking about it is the best medicine. I’m an open book when it comes to most things in my life, and this is no exception.
The thing I’m realizing the older I get is that depression doesn’t have to define me. My goal for this year is to listen to my body and do something about it. I knew that going back to work was not a healthy choice for me and I took action to change that. I know that working out is more difficult now that I have two babies, so I asked my mom for a jogging stroller for my birthday so I can get out and run! I am setting goals for myself – small achievable ones – that I celebrate. And most importantly, I’m giving myself grace!
I hope this post helps you if you are struggling with depression or something similar yourself. It’s cliche to say, but you are not alone! I’m always here to chat if needed 🙂