I was going to write a blog about natural ways to boost energy. I had the thing almost totally complete and ready to post for my usual Tuesday blog but as I sat down to edit the piece, intuition stepped in. I was drawn to set the piece aside and work on one that is really prevalent in my life right now. A topic that screams at the top of it’s lungs in my face nearly everyday… kind of like my three small children do, LOL. One that has been a driving factor behind many of my choices throughout most of my life…depression.
I wanted to be this amazingly strong woman who was raising these three small boys like a total rock star. Not like some crazy lady curled up on a cold, cement floor drowning in a puddle of her own tears.
As a health coach, my job is to help encourage and support my clients to reach the goals they have set for themselves. Weight loss, meal planning, healthy eating…all of those thing are so valuable to our overall health. However, none of those things can be accomplished when our state of mind is compromised.
Mental stability is essential to reaching ones potential.
I believe that we all have our own varying degree of what a centered mind looks like. The problems arise when we compare our own clarity to another. We each live in our own realities, our own stories so to speak. We have a tendency to give power over to the idea that our thought patterns don’t measure up to the, “norm.” In other words, we buy into the notion that something must be wrong with us because of what we feel or believe to be true about ourselves and not wrong with others, thus making us inferior. Buying into such beliefs is utterly pointless, since ultimately, only we get to decide what is or isn’t true about ourselves.
This notion did not always hold true to me, however. I have spent the greater part of my life comparing myself. It’s a human characteristic that has caused me a great deal of suffering. Still, I believe that out of suffering comes strength and wisdom. After all, we do not build strength without resistance. While I have felt great internal torture from the neurological battle that has plagued my mind, I also value how deep within myself this battle and my comparing has forced me to look.
I speak on this topic because for the past five months I have been dealing with a great amount of internal conflict. In March, I put an end to my prescription anti depressants (I was taking two, both at very high doses). I had been on these medications for the past seven years. Yet, my relationship with anti-depressants began as early as thirteen. The life of pill popping for stability is no stranger to me.
Every time I have begun taking the medicine, it has always been with the intent that I would eventually come off of it. That, in due time, my chemistry would even out again and I would be, “normal.”
I would think:
If Sally Sue isn’t on meds and she seems happy then something must be wrong with me and I need to get my self figured out enough to live like Sally Sue, happy and med free.
I would make it four, sometimes five years without any meds and then an event in my life would occur that just set me off kilter again and BOOM…I was back on them.
The birth of my twins threw me for a loop in a way that no one quite prepares you for when it comes to birthing a child…or two. The role of hormones. I should have known how wacky my chemistry was when over the course of my twin pregnancy, I found myself so depressed, I cried the day away in bed. Or, so hopeless, I imagined just driving myself off a bridge. I had been down this road of thinking before with my depression and I knew from my first pregnancy that hormones were the real culprit. Recognizing my thinking was not at all logical, I patiently waited the pregnancy out, assuming that once the babies arrived, all would be well in my mind again.
When six months post birth had passed and I was no better off, I realized that something inside of me had changed dramatically. In 2015, after spending Mother’s Day lying like a heap of mush on my basement floor, crying till I could hardly breathe, I decided it was time to admit that I needed more support than what I had been allowing myself.
I had gotten my doses of anti depressants upped and even added birth control into the mix to help support my wacky moods. I put into place the steps I needed to in order to find healing. The problem was that I really didn’t feel very healed at all. I was so focused on being able to handle my life on my own terms. On an ideal I had created. One where, in order to feel empowered and in control, I had to exist by. I wanted to be this amazingly strong woman who was raising these three small boys like a total rock star. Not like some crazy lady curled up on a cold, cement floor drowning in a puddle of her own tears.
What I realize today is that I was comparing myself to an ideal. I was putting my abilities up against what I thought other women equal to me were doing in their own homes, with their own kids and in their own lives. I felt weak because I had my focus all wrong. Where I should have been setting my sights was on my own self. On my own situation and against my own mental stability and capabilities.
When I took the career path of health coaching, so much came into alignment for me. I finally felt free. I finally felt that I was tuning into my purpose and my passion. It was because of these driving factors that I decided to get off all my meds. I remember the day so clearly. I was standing in my kitchen, hand reaching for the Tori Burch mini make-up bag I used as my pill purse. As my fingers gripped the tiny, gold charm that dangled from the pink, plastic zipper, I felt a certain ache from within. I was sick of these pills. I was sick of relying on medicine to make me,”well.” I was desperate to see what life looked like for me standing on my own two feet with my own neurological synapses snapping fire all by their lonesome. No pills to persuade them to make me balanced. I felt ready to venture out into my reality med free.
Over the next five months, I found myself swimming in a pool of emotional upheaval like I had never known. I kept waiting for things to even out. For a sense of normality to occur. The first few months, I chalked my random bits of rage and tear-filled breakdowns to withdrawal from the meds. By the third month, I was working with two naturopathic doctors, certain that a re-balancing of my gut health and the right supplements would put me back to “normal.” Cut to month five and the conversation my husband and I had the night I wrote this blog.
Hubby: “It’s been almost six months and I see no change in you. You are trying all these things and I commend you for that but at what cost? I just don’t think I can take much more.”
He was right…and I knew it. I had put my husband through hell trying to pick up the slack my mental shift had caused. While I had many great days and I felt clear and present and happy, the majority of my time was spent being tired, anxious and overwhelmed. He had been so amazing through it all but I had to admit that even I was sick of my living in constant crisis mode.
This is where the real struggle internally comes in.
I want so desperately to believe that I am someone that I am just not right now. Yes, I have a beautiful family. Certainly, I’m madly in love with my husband. My dream path of helping people and changing lives through health is taking form. So many wonderful blessings are right in front of me and I am missing them all because I am afraid of staying me. I am focused on an ideal that is totally disconnected from my true self.
That is what it all boils down to. I fear staying the same. I want change. I want the freedom I believe comes with, “having it all.” To me, that looks like not being on any meds. I have been viewing the medication as a handicap and so, I am seeing myself as handicapped.
I believe this goes for so many things in our lives. It doesn’t just have to be depression. It can be about our body image, our weight expectations, our career plans, our marriage. We look externally for validation. We compare our selves to those around us. We compare ourselves to who we used to be and who we think we need to be. Yet, how much are we focusing on who we are?
As women, we want to be it all. A great mother, wife, worker. We struggle to give equal attention to each area and feel shattered when we don’t meet our own expectations.
For me, I was constantly comparing my current capabilities with those prior to this season of my life. Before I had gotten the husband, the kids, the career (I’m still working on that one, LOL). I had time to hit the gym six days a week for two hours a day. I had a body that was nearly ten years younger. I didn’t need as much money to survive. I wasn’t stressed about affording three kids in daycare or preschool or even a measly week of summer camp so I could get some relief. All my funds went to cute clothes and far away trips. If I had a crappy period with some serious PMS, I had the luxury of holing myself up in my room all day eating chocolate chip cookies and watching Pretty Pink.
Most notably, I wasn’t on anti-depressants.
The new me…this new season, the one where I have so many roles to juggle and none of which I feel very well equipped to handle, it’s no wonder I collapsed. If I truly look at myself, I have never been the kind of person who does well with pressure. Overwhelm and me know each other all too well. My life as it stands now, is a shit show, for lack of a better phrase, but one that I wouldn’t trade for any other person’s shit show in all the world. I recognize that is is a season, as all chapters in our lives are. The purpose is to mold me, shape me, form me into a better version of myself. Not into a different version of myself.
My problem isn’t that I suffer from depression (I do). My problem is that I keep trying to handle my life living in the past, in the future and in comparison to those around me.
I dropped my meds to get in touch with myself but the person I faced was not who I had expected to meet. It wasn’t a woman in total control of everything. I wasn’t a woman who no longer had fears or doubts. It was ME. The same me as always.
The core of who we are doesn’t change, only the circumstances and seasons in our lives do. Disappointment, failure, fear, whatever you want to call it, comes when we lose touch with who we are inside and start relying on a false story out in the world to give us our self-worth. We make our own realities. We have the power to create our own story. It resonates with us with great joy and truth when we honor our selves.
I am going to have to battle depression for the rest of my life. That doesn’t make me a weirdo. It doesn’t de-value my soul. It doesn’t negate my purpose on this planet. It isn’t my story, only a circumstance. Accepting this season of my life, where I need more support and stability so that I can be a success at all the things I want to be is not equivalent to waving the white flag of surrender. I am not weak because this is part of my story.
Reading this, you may think, “Well, duh. Of course not.”
Still, I challenge you to think about your own story. Where in it have you been allowing your past self, the idea of your future self or the self you compare to others run your present moment? Where has your idea of “weakness” prevented you from enjoying where you’re at right now? What would it look like for you to put that story aside and live out of the truth you know so deep within you is pure and real and valid? That child within who grew up to be the person you are today…how are you nurturing her?
Give yourself over to yourself!
Stop fighting who you are to reach a person who is only an illusion. Take strength from your core and move with brilliant courage on your chosen path as your authentic self. Celebrate every part of you, knowing that you do not need to compare neither to yourself, to your past, to your future or to others, only to the present moment you are in.