I've written multiple blog post but only published 1 in the past 2 years. Pretty sad!
I tend to write posts when I'm either really happy or really sad. As the weather has quickly changed over the past few weeks, the temperatures have dropped, leaves have changed and so have my emotions.
It's no secret that I deal with depression and anxiety year round, but I always seem to forget how bad it gets in the winter. Every year it surprises me out of the blue!!! (You'd think I'd remember) Today, was one of those days where I had to realize, "Christine you have depression, it's not the end of the world, but today is gonna be a tough day, accept it." Thankfully, today was my day off and I was able to ponder a lot today, at the same time that can be a bad thing...to much thinking! For more than a DECADE I have had to deal with mental illness and I can honestly say that it is debilitating.
I'm reminded of an article I read about a week ago about women dealing with mental illness, entitled I Am Stigma Free. Google describes STIGMA as, a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. It then goes on to say "the stigma of mental disorder" and then lists synonyms such as shame, disgrace, dishonor and humiliation.
I remember when I was first diagnosed with depression that I definitely felt this stigma; I felt like I was less of a person if others knew that I had a mental disorder. I thought it made me weak and I was worried that others would judge me for something that I couldn't control. Looking back I realize those were invalid thoughts, but even today I realize that my actions say otherwise.
For example: a couple of weeks ago at work, a coworker looked at me and said, "Are you pretending to look depressed or are you actually sad?" Little did she know, I do have depression and I was actually having a great day. Yes I know, I have one of those faces that doesn't always smile, looks can be deceiving.
As I stopped by work tonight, that same coworker was there, she welcomed me with a warm smile and a hug but little did she know, I was having a tough day. When another co-worker asked, how's it going? I skirted around the real answer. I've come to learn, people don't react very well when you say, "pretty crappy actually, I'm really hating life today." LOL So, instead I answer with, "alright, how about you?" Alright is better than crappy but worse then good. So, my question is, why do I feel as if I need to protect others from my mood/mental state? I think in a way it comes back to stigma. With out even realizing it, I hide my emotions from others to keep from burdening them with the real turmoil in my head.
Now, back to the question my coworker asked, "Are you depressed or just PRETENDING...?" We all know someone who is dramatic or someone who pretends to feel a certain way for attention. Growing up I was mistaken for pretending a lot. People thought I was overreacting about being depressed, I totally understand that now, teenagers are overly dramatic, but I wasn't pretending.
Depression is an interesting thing, for me it has many different faces. Sometimes I sleep all day, other times I'm awake all night, almost all the time I over think and analyze things but the only thing I PRETEND is to be HAPPY.
I realize this is a pretty serious, and gloomy post after a 2 year break but I feel it is important to talk about.
I once had a counselor tell me, you have depression but depression is not who you are. (So True)
Because I have dealt with my illness for so long I have learned to notice the signs and to try and change my thoughts and even surroundings as quickly as possible to help turn it around. It used to take me weeks to notice I was in a downward spiral now I can sometimes notice in just a day.
So, what do I do when I find myself in these situations?
Realize that I'm not alone
It's easy to feel that you are alone but Heavenly Father is there for you, especially when you are struggling, but Satan doesn't want you to remember that. You are a child of God with eternal worth and potential, Never Forget That!
Even if they're small, like make your bed or organize one part of your room, even if its just one drawer in your dresser. Sometimes accomplishing one small task gives you a little motivation you need to keep going and definitely keeps you distracted.
Recognize my Efforts
Lets face it, getting out of bed in the morning can be like trying to move a boulder. It's important to recognize your accomplishments and focus on the positive instead of the things you didn't get done. Each day can be a success depending on your perspective.
While it may seem like laying in bed all day or sleeping may be a good idea, it's not! Get out and serve, do something to make someone happy. Read your scripture, pray and realize the strengthening power of the Atonement and use it.
Elder Holland once said, “Never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend... Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many. They came when every indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost.”
I know that Elder Hollands words are true because I have lived it. The gospel is true and there is always hope!!!