life, My Faith

Changing a mindset

This week has been all about learning to live in the moment, learning to breathe and just focusing on enjoying some of the amazing parts of life. This week has been a blessing, a blessing from which I’m exhausted but a blessing nonetheless. It’s been a nice change after the last several weeks. I still haven’t written a lot here because I’m not sure what to say, a condition that is new for me.

I’ve eluded to the struggles and talked a little in my last two posts without actually giving a name to the thing. But today I feel like it needs a name because hiding behind the thing will never make it go away, and it’s far more common than I ever realized as I was denying its existence…probably for years.

The thing that nearly took me down, the thing that erupted into a mess of anxiety as I no longer had the ability to hide or control it, the thing was (and is) depression.

Even now I fight the urge to employ a whole bunch of backspaces and get rid of that word because the admission feels a little like standing naked somewhere. It feels ugly and wrong, but while it might be ugly, it is what it is.

When I first started spinning out of control a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what to call it. When I lost it with my favorite people, it was shocking to them (and me) and a wake up call that things were not the “fine” I claim them to be. When I told my friend I needed to get my life together, she told me I “balance it all well or so it seems”. Or so it seems. I mean that pretty much summed it all up. For some reason I lost the ability to balance and it felt like life was crashing down.

I lost control of the ability to control my life and my disappointments. An anxiety attack followed by soul crushing realities that felt like my world was crumbling and I was a mess. And in a phone call with one of my people that pretty much was her talking and listening to me cry, I realized I was not okay.

Life has been filled with hard things and the last year and a few months have been challenging still. So it’s no wonder this sneaky beast who has likely been stalking me my whole life finally caught me.

The day after the big meltdown, I had an appointment already scheduled with my doctor so he could refill my medications. I was trying to decide whether or not to talk to him about it when during the part where the MA goes over your history and such she said, “it’s time to do your yearly depression screening.” My response was “ok”; my thought was oh shoot. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t do well as even the question brought tears that told secrets I didn’t want to tell.

After that appointment, the one where I had to admit that I wasn’t fine because I lost the ability to hide it, I started writing privately instead of publicly. Writing is soul cleansing for me and I wanted to do it but wasn’t sure I wanted to admit my failings to the world. But now, I feel like it’s important to share some of it (not all) because I know I’m not alone. And if one other person realizes it’s okay to not be okay, then it’s all worth it.

From that day…

“But it feels like failure. Because I feel like I should have been able to get it together myself. That I don’t have enough faith or trust or whatever. That for all the good game I talk, maybe I’m just a fraud after all.”

The next day…

“‘Oh how the mighty have fallen.’ That feels about right today. Is this the same person who posts all those things about what God is doing? This person sitting here wondering where God is in all this? I’m not sure. I know she broke hard. She was supposed to be unbreakable but wasn’t. She thought she was stronger than this. She isn’t. She’d run from these devils too long. It was inevitable that they’d catch her.

Maybe I’m not the same one. Maybe I’m the one ready to admit I can’t; ready to say I control nothing though I’d very much like to. I’m the one who is tired of feeling worthless and not good enough. The one who is tired of hiding behind fake smiles and flowery words.”

And from Instagram on that day:

Because even in the midst of the dark days there was hope because God still pursued me even in the hard. Because He sent me people to love me well. Because it was hard and ugly and I wanted to give up on all the people and all the things, but my people and my God don’t let me do that. And through love and a lot of prayers and soul searching and crying out to God and admitting my failings more times than I liked, I started to slowly find my way back.

“It still feels like failure but maybe the reality is failure happened long ago. I’m just finally owning it. Owning the fact that I’m not perfect and I never will be. Owning the broken. Letting it wash over me so I can get through it.”

Lord, let me sit in the broken while you use it to make something beautiful, something only you can. Pull me out of this pit and love me like only you can. Fix me. Surround me with the love and acceptance I so desperately need right now. Give me people who will love me well. Give me grace and help me give myself grace.

And He did all those things and more. I found love and acceptance. What started out as shame and failure started to look like just another hurdle to overcome, just another way He can improve me. It’s not easy but it’ll be worth it.

“I can’t hide behind the mask of fine anymore and while that’s terrifying for someone like me, it’s also liberating for someone like me. And no one is disappointed and I have not failed anything other than fake perfection. Through losing myself I gained all the things. People now love me better because they know how to and I’m learning to love myself better too. One moment at a time…”

This road is hard. While the day looks brighter and through losing myself I feel like I’ve gained so much, I’m still fighting my way back. I still have to remind myself to breathe sometimes. I still have to slow down and check myself. I still find myself exhausted from life from time to time. And I still rely on my people to remind me that whatever I need to do is okay.

When planning for some events coming this week, I said, “I don’t have the energy to be extra anymore.” And the response was “that’s okay”. Because it is. I don’t have to prove my worth in this life by doing things. I am worthy of the love I am freely given without doing a thing. If anything this has taught me that because it left me unable to do much more than exist and yet people still loved me well.

And so I’m learning a new normal, one where I love others well while also loving myself well, one where I don’t have to lose myself in the service of others. One where I can find joy and satisfaction in serving others, yes, but I can find joy and satisfaction in self-care as well without being selfish. Has this detour been costly? Only time will tell. But ultimately it’s been beneficial for my longevity in this life I think. I hate that it happened. I hate that I have to write a blog post like this, but I think in the end it will make me a stronger and better person if I just stay the course. Because God can use this if I give it to Him, and that’s what I’m doing.

There’s so much stigma attached to admitting that you don’t have it together. It’s hard to own it, but we all have weaknesses and by hiding behind it, I think that just gives the enemy a stronghold against me. So here I am. Publicly admitting that I am struggling with depression but I am fighting against it. And I am learning to live well with it and in spite of it. I hope you continue to love me well in spite of it and because of it and through it. I am unbreakable because even though I may have cracked quite significantly, I’m still here. And eventually I will be even better as the Master Potter keeps working with me.

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