Depression is something that comes around every year during this season for me and is something I’ve been dealing with since I was a teenager. But I never really understood this to be seasonal depression as my teenage and young adult years were filled with chaos, trauma, and endless tears. I just thought the way I felt was due to all the bad decisions I had made. With depression and anxiety comes a lot of isolation, overthinking, self condemnation and self guilt.
In previous years, my mental health has cost me a lot. I’ve lost friendships due to my isolation and/or mood swings. I’ve lost jobs due to not being able to get out of bed. I dropped out of college 2 different times. I missed my daughters first steps because I was hospitalized for trying to end my life. I would have days in which my house was falling apart and all I wanted was to stay in bed.
Getting married almost 7 years ago to a man that doesn’t struggle with his mental health was a scary thing for me. I was afraid he would leave me due to my own struggles. However, in time I’ve learned there’s something so beautiful about marriage - with great communication you get to see yourself through the lens of your spouse. My husband's lens has shown me grace, my value and potential. Through his lens, I’ve seen that even at my worst, I'm still worth fighting for. As the years go by, I am still so grateful and amazed that my husband chooses to love me even when I couldn’t love myself. And his love is what challenged me to want to do better.
My husband once said “I study you for a living," and I remember I getting so offended and creeped out by what he said, but as the years passed, I began to understand what he meant by that. My husband has gotten to truly know me - he's observed me and taken the time to learn what triggers me and what times throughout the year that I may be struggling. My husband checks in with me to see how I’m feeling and often challenges my ways of thinking. In him doing that, I began to take an interest in studying myself, checking in with myself, and being honest about what I could and couldn't deal with, which all allowed me to accept that it’s okay to have a therapist and rely on medication for a season.
Two years ago, I decided I couldn’t continue to allow depression and anxiety to weigh me down any longer. I owed it to my family but more importantly to myself and I fought to love me…I fought for me! I decided to push myself, and to not allow these seasons of my life to come and break what I was building. I began with a huge self inventory of myself and the relationships in my life. I was a huge people pleaser and wanted to help everyone despite the fact that I was drowning. During this time, I was 248 pounds - I had no energy, no motivation, no self-love or acceptance. That’s when I embarked on my weight loss and self-love & awareness journey. It wasn’t easy and I completely stepped out of my comfort zone. I changed my nutrition. I began pushing myself to go work out. Before this I was never motivated to work out but I got into some weight loss challenges, and won 2 in a row! That’s when I realized I was super competitive and I wanted to prove to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to.
In the process of my journey I fell in love with creating the best version of ME. Since then I’ve lost about 100 pounds and began creating boundaries that allowed me to put my mental health first. I let go of family and friends who didn’t understand what I battle with and as much as I would try to explain the way my brain works to them, they still judged me and made me feel like I didn't belong. Along with dropping the weight, I dropped the load of being concerned about what others would think or say about my mental health especially in Christianity where mental health is a lot of times blamed on open doors and spiritual warfare.
Learning these things allowed me to stop giving anyone any type of explanations about my life and my decisions. I let my yes’s be yes’s and my no’s be no’s without any care of what would be said or thought. I stopped idolizing Christianity and pulled back from church organizations and learned that we are called to love others not judge and demonize each others struggles.
I realized not everyone will get me nor like me and I’m perfectly okay with that. I realized that I will be judged whether I’m doing good or not, so why should it bother me? I stopped letting myself go through the motions and instead rise above the motions and create a balance for myself. I can’t say I’m always okay and always happy, of course not. Mental health battles as a result of almost a life time of trauma isn’t something you can just turn off like a light switch but I’ve learned to be okay with not being perfectly okay, and taking each day as a new opportunity to be thankful and to do better than the day before. I’ve learned how to authentically love me and take care of me, unapologetically.