I am writing this today because I feel a legit weight on my heart to tell someone that mental health is real, your feelings are real, it is not your fault, and it is more than okay to not be okay. Do not let someone tell you otherwise!
I know I have mentioned this in several posts, but last March I was diagnosed with mild depression and PTSD. I don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but it is something that hit me hard and something that I still have to speak truth and life into on a daily basis. So, bear with me while I continue seeking purpose from the past, recovery from disappointments, and freedom from fights that are not mine to battle.
Dr. Caroline Leaf posted a quote this week that sparked this entire blog post. I wish I would have seen it last year. I wish I would have read this and believed it when everything was happening. It set my mind at ease, and told me it is okay to be exactly who I am, where I am. So, if you can relate with anything at all in this post, I want you to soak up the goodness and truth in these words. She quoted Allen Barbour who said, “Depression is a normal response to abnormal life experiences.”
I read that over and over. I thought, “Oh. SO it wasn’t my fault after all? I took a deep breath. It has nothing to do with my relationship with God? Another breath. Depression and PTSD aren’t because I am failing? Breathe.” I can’t tell you how much shame and blame were stripped away by the truth of those words.
I fought for life the majority of my childhood. Dealt with sickness in high school, that followed me into college as well, where I was yet again fighting. I knew my next big fight was to have a biological baby. I was beyond determined to have this baby despite many physicians thinking it wasn’t even a possibility. It was risky, but worth it. My pregnancy with Emry came with a deployed husband, sicknesses that came back into full swing creating pre-eclampsia, failing kidney function, a heart syndrome, and a scary delivery. Doctors said it pushed my mind over the edge into full on PTSD. So much fighting. So many scares. So many physical and internal scars. So utterly exhausting, yet so miraculous. My story, my life, and my girl’s life; worth every ounce of fight.
Maybe I was naïve, but I never saw mental illness coming from any of this. I had Emry. Chase was home safe and in one piece from Kuwait. My kidneys fully recovered and my heart syndrome went away. We were whole and all together, but my mind got lost along the way.
When I did sleep, I woke up from crazy nightmares. I saw a dark shadowy figure whether dreaming or wide awake. I legit thought I was going crazy. I was a crazy protective mom. I hardly trusted her with anyone. Still to this day, she has never had a true baby sitter; only family or friends who are like family watch her for me. Everything was a big deal and everything overwhelmed me. I watched way too much TV because it was the only thing that shut off everything inside. It was my escape. I shut everyone out. I got in a bubble that felt safe and only allowed three people in it. It wasn’t until I began therapy, and decided to let my therapist in my bubble, that I slowly began making progress.
It has been about a year and a half, and now, I don’t really recognize the girl I was anymore. A year and a half of positive changes, getting a safe community around me, therapy, real restful sleep, exercising and practicing self-care (which Chase would tell you is still a work in progress) has released so many factors of depression and crazy anxiety. I can still get thrown off, overwhelmed and nightmares do appear when conversations or situations trigger past pain. I retreat to my bubble when I don’t feel safe. But, all in all, I am here to say that it does get better and it won’t always be so hard. Allow yourself to be in whatever season of healing you are in. Don’t rush it.
I could go on and on with this topic, but I will end with some wise insight from Dr. Caroline Leaf. I hope her words will bring you as much freedom to be exactly who you are, where you are, as it brought me. As a part of her post Dr. Leaf said, “Mental ill health has many causes and many solutions. What I want you to take away from all this is that if you are going through a tough mental health time right now, it’s not because you are ‘broken’ or due to some ‘chemical imbalance’ in your brain. It’s because life is hard and sometimes really bad things happen or maybe you are in a work or family environment that is not healthy. But just know that these periods are not permanent and your situation can change.”
Be free today to be exactly who you are, where you are.