My Darkest Day of Depression
I have been pretty open about the fact that I have battled depression and anxiety. If you have followed along on my blog, you know it got dark but you probably don’t know HOW dark. It has been five years and I am now mentally ready to share a little more in-depth about the battle I faced. It is not a pleasant experience to talk about but I find people need to hear that others have gone through it and made it through.
First off, let me say that if you are reading this because you yourself are battling depression, kudos to you for digging around on the internet to seek help. You are NOT alone in this feeling, despite how you may feel. You see, that’s the “normal” part of depression. It is isolating. Depression makes you feel like the world around you doesn’t care how you feel, doesn’t know you are hurting, doesn’t CARE you are hurting, and that people would be better off without you. It is a LIE that Depression is telling you. I would encourage you to seek out help and call the suicide hotline if you are having suicidal thoughts. That number is 800-273-8255.
Five years ago is a bit of a blur to me. I do remember the feeling of defeat and loneliness. I felt that no one truly cared about me. I felt no one SHOULD care about me. So, those closest to me, I pushed away. I made it hard for them to be able to love me. I did that to myself. I wanted them to love me but I sabotaged my relationships because I could then justify them “hating me”. Sounds crazy but until you live in the deepest of depressions (I pray you never do), you can’t understand. Those who have battled depression can more than likely relate to that feeling. It wasn’t true that they hated me but it was MY reality. Depression hides the truth.
Depression steals every bit of joy but it also steals every ounce of truth from being part of your reality. It keeps you from finding any ray of light in such a dark place. I remember feeling that everyone… I mean EVERYONE was better off without me. I felt like no matter how hard I tried, I would never (in my whole life) be able to be of value to anyone ever again. That’s what depression does. Depression even changes your personality. It makes you do and say things that are so far from character. It isn’t an excuse but it really does happen. Throw anxiety in there (which goes hand in hand with depression most of the time), and you have a recipe for true disaster.
On March 29th, 2016, the only thing I can remember is my husband yelling at me to stay awake. Now, I don’t know if he was really yelling or if it was just because everything was amplified. I had overdosed on medication… on purpose. I wanted the pain to end and I wanted to make everyone else “happy”. Oh, Depression… you are such a liar. I can remember getting to the ER and vomiting. That was the last of my memory from that day and for about a year to follow. I was in the hospital for 80 days battling severe depression and anxiety.
Thankfully because of some of the treatment (ECT) I had, I lost most of my memory from that time. Sometimes I wish I could remember but I feel like it is a blessing that most of it, I don’t remember.
Some friends and family couldn’t understand what I was going through. Many were mad at my choice. I was mad at myself that I didn’t succeed at the attempt to kill myself. Some were silent because they had no clue what to say. Others had a million questions that I didn’t want to answer. A few spoke truth… in love. THAT is what I needed. A whole lot of love, grace, and mercy.
We always push away the ones we love most, don’t we?! The person I pushed away most during that time was the one who showed me the most love, mercy, and grace. I most definitely did NOT deserve that in return for my selfish, out-of-control behaviors. But guess what?! That is the same person with who I now share the strongest bond. It is the same person with who I share every detail of my feelings. When I start feeling the first signs of those depressive tendencies, he is the one who I tell. I tell him so he can hold me accountable for my thoughts and actions. He is the one who holds me and prays with me when I can’t seem to get out of that slump. He is the one who directs me to the words in the Bible that I need to focus on. He asks the hard questions. HE is my husband.
I know what you are thinking, “that should be who you share everything with and who you are closest with anyways”. We had to learn, together, how to handle my battles. It was his battle, too… just a different part of the battle. We have a stronger marriage, a closer friendship, and a deeper love than we ever have before. Depression doesn’t HAVE to rob that. You just have to be willing to be brutally honest with yourself and someone else to overcome the depressive feelings. You have to learn to be proactive to resist the thoughts that arise. When you begin to feel the spiraling, you have to think of ways to put a stop to the downward spiral or at least slow it down until it can stop. You have to find what works for YOU (kind of like a Depression Plan) and do it regardless of how you feel. “Your person” needs to be equipped to be honest, loving, and KIND. They need to lovingly force you to follow your “plan”.
First, be brutally honest with yourself and TRY to find the source of where the depression may be coming from. Ask yourself these questions.
- Is it physical (do you need more sleep or need to eat better)?
- Do I need to seek medical attention? Is there a medical reason I am feeling this way?
- Did something happen recently that has made me feel this way and if so, how can I address it?
- Did something from the past come into my mind, making me feel the pain of the past? If so, I need to remind myself that it is in the past and needs to stay there!
- Do I need to seek counseling from a trained professional to work through a situation or my feelings?
- Am I right with the Lord? Is it a spiritual battle I am facing?
Once you have figured out the reasons, IF you can figure out the reasons, it will be easier to address. Sometimes, if you battle depression, those feelings can come out of the blue for absolutely no reason at all. Acknowledge the problem and commit to yourself that you will do whatever it takes to not go deeper.
Here are some of the things I find helpful:
- Open windows to get some fresh air (even if it is 30 degrees out).
- Snuggle with your spouse, your kids, parents, or even a pet.
- Read your Bible.
- Have someone hold you tight for more than a minute straight.
- Take a walk.
- Shower and get ready even if you have nowhere to go.
- Do some deep/slow breathing. In through your nose, out through your mouth.
- Crank up some loud, upbeat music.
- Go for a car ride to sing or share what’s on your heart.
- Do something to help someone else.
- Get creative and make something, paint, reorganize (be productive).
- Journal your feelings.
- Have lunch with a friend.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Call or Facetime someone who is encouraging.
- Watch a funny movie.
- Avoid caffeine if anxiety is part of the problem.
- Eat a healthy meal.
- Lay under a weighted blanket.
Don’t give up. A sunnier day will be here soon. It may not be today and it may not be tomorrow but open the blinds and wait for the sun to rise!