Monday, May 13, 2013

Taking care of me

Alexis McDonald at The Wunder Year has inspired me today to share with you my battle with depression and anxiety. Thanks Alexis for bravely sharing your story and your truths with the world. You are an inspiration to me and to many others who follow you, I'm sure!

My last post I shared my personal story of domestic violence. I confess that, next to my sister's story, mine seems very insignificant even to me, but it's not. Because it is my personal story that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I was surviving, not necessarily thriving, but surviving until I realized what was happening in my marriage and then I began to slip. See, I have never truly believed that I was worthy of love - or even loveable. I even thought that maybe, just maybe my life was supposed to be one of suffering and abuse since everywhere I turned that is what I ran into. It was as if God, in that moment, spoke to me and told me that was NOT His plan for me... it was that moment that He told me to leave.

Yet... I have been overcome by anxiety and depression. So much so that one day I had to call 911 for help because I was having chest pains and difficulty breathing. I knew it wasn't a heart attack, but an anxiety/panic attack that severe is a sign that I had to reach out for help, that I just wasn't making it on my own. I have two little boys who need their mother and that day I had another child in my care too. I can't afford to fall apart, I'm all they have right now, 24/7 they depend on me and if I fall apart, what happens to them? Where do they go?

I took help. I went to a specialist who diagnosed me with general anxiety disorder and mild depression... and he prescribed 3 medications for it. I come from a family where medication is just not used to treat mood disorders. Anti-depressants are for those who don't have enough faith in God to keep going. If you need medication, you must not have enough faith, your relationship with God must not be close enough... all you should need is Bible study and prayer to get you through. It wasn't working for me. I've had to reconcile that God has given us science and medicine because sometimes our bodies just fail us!

I've stopped feeling guilty about needing meds, but at the same time I want to hide it. I don't really want to tell you that I rely on my daily anti-depressant (I'm down to one and a second for occasional high anxiety) to get through my days and I notice if I miss it. It keeps me sane. Until I went on the meds, I was beginning to have suicidal ideations... not thoughts or desires to harm myself or take my life, but desires and thoughts of wanting my life to end. It's different than not being afraid of death, but desiring it - to a degree. I would never have done something to make it happen, in case you're wondering... I've faced that demon and refuse to go that direction, but I could see the blessing in it.

I don't feel that way anymore - I never wanted to. My anxiety is slowly improving and I go to counseling every week to combat it and hopefully, one day, I'll walk free. In the meantime, I know that some people just don't produce the chemicals we need to stay depression free... If I'm one of those people, I'll find out and I'll accept it because it's better than the alternative. I started the journey of meds for my children's sake... now I continue it for my own because I am learning that I am worth being healthy for myself, not just for them.

Some days are harder than others, some days I just put one step in front of the other and other days I feel like I can leap tall buildings. That's a positive sign, because I never used to feel like I had the energy to dance, let alone leap.

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