New Dark and Blue
I want to be very honest about something that's been happening to me lately. I've spent the last few weeks in a place I've never found myself before. Deep depression. Deep, dark, hard-to-get-out-of depression.
I've had anxiety for as long as I can remember. Anxiety is a BEAST, but it's a beast I'm very familiar with and I've gotten pretty decent at reacting to it. It's morphed into a million different forms through the years, including but not limited to social anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, and trauma-related anxiety. I think this is pretty common for anxiety.
I've had moments of depression here and there. I definitely had postpartum depression after both of my children were born. I told my husband not to fall asleep in the hospital one night because I was so afraid I would hurt myself. It was terrifying. It was like I was trapped in a real-life fever dream. But it slowly got better and when you know what the cause is (in those cases, HORMONE CITY, USA), you know there's probably an end in sight.
But this new depression…. it's like nothing like anything I've ever felt. Around every corner, a breakdown was lurking. I cried about everything. EVERYTHING. For weeks. I felt low and incompetent and pointless. I felt broken and unfixable and I felt like I was letting everyone in my life down - my family, my friends, my employees, my customers, and everyone else in between. It was ROUGH. I couldn't stop apologizing for things I perceived to be problems (that weren't). And I'll tell you something - I will gladly admit when I am wrong, but I'm not usually an apologize-for-everything kind of person.
I started to realize about two weeks ago that I needed to do two things. I needed to seek therapy (haven't gone yet, will be going soon!) and I needed to take a hard look at my coping mechanisms. I was finding myself sitting down on my phone and scrolling endlessly through social media for I don't even know how long. It got me out of the stressful reality. I found myself overdoing it on the alcohol for several nights in a row (hello, Chelsea! Booze is a depressant!). I started going to bed super early, ridiculously early, like 6:30pm early some nights just to get out of my own head. I wasn't coping with stress well. I honestly wasn't coping with stress at all.
I've tried to pinpoint what brought me to this deep dark place. I assume it's chemicals in my brain partly. But I also believe that the holiday season nearly killed me this year. I didn't take on too much. I believe my business and my employees did GREAT during the holidays (regardless of how exhausted we were). But I certainly wasn't as organized as I COULD and SHOULD have been. And that disorganization and constant struggle to keep up for nearly two months burrowed into my brain and manifested into deep heartbreak.
I'm want to be clear - I'm not writing this to garner sympathy from anyone. I know I'm not alone in this mental health struggle. I whole-heartedly believe we all have some kind of internal battle waging inside of us at any given moment. My intention for this post is to tell you this - IF YOU ARE HURTING, TELL SOMEONE. If you have a mysterious broken heart, TELL SOMEONE. Tell someone so they can see the red flags if they need to. Fortunately, there were no red flags. It didn't come to that. But I do want to tell you what I've been doing to piece it all back together. Maybe it'll help? Maybe it's just ramblings of a strange Midwestern cheese lady. You choose.
I TOLD SOMEONE. I told several of my coworkers. I told my husband. I told my parents. I told my friends. I told them to keep their eye on me. I told them I was fine but just watch. And they did. And I'm so lucky for them.
I established with myself that having a billion blessings (I love my family and friends so much it hurts, my business is my dream come true, I live in the country, I'm relatively healthy with the opportunity to become healthier, etc.) and being depressed can happen at the same time. It's not always a situation of "count your blessings and it will get better!". Sometimes you ARE counting your blessings on a near-constant basis and at the very same time, your poor little heart is a black hole of sadness. And there's no telling why or when it became that black hole of sadness. It just is. Bottom line - being depressed does not mean you aren't grateful for what you have.
I started rebuilding. One brick at a time. One opportunity at a time. I got on a sleep schedule (I still go to bed at 8, that's just who I am). I have exercised regularly. I've been OUTSIDE (even overcast sunlight helps). I've put the damn phone down. I've swapped wine out for tea — let me be honest, I've had plenty of wine still. Just not as much and not as often. I started journaling and reading more. I've been (more) careful about what I eat. And hey, please know this. I've layered these changes in little by little. I didn't wake up one day and implement everything all of a sudden. That is not usually sustainable and the hope in this situation is to survive and ultimately begin to thrive again.
I backed away from TONS of social interaction. One of my favorite things about my business is getting to talk to my wonderful customers but I am also one of those people who needs time to myself to recharge. So I gave myself the gift of that time. And it totally helped me get back to doing what I love - connecting with amazing people.
I GOT ORGANIZED. Or at least a little more organized. I wrote schedules out in advance, I have specific days I sit with my email and knock tons of things out. During our slow time, I'm laying a foundation that will get me through the busy time without losing my mind. And my employees, family, and customers deserve that. What's the saying? You can't pour from an empty cup? Well… I was certainly trying to.
I've gone ten days (TEN DAYS!) without sobbing uncontrollably. I've started HEARING music again - really listening to it. It's been a LONG time since that's happened and I hadn't even realized it til I got it back. I'm feeling better, so much better. Not perfect. But better. And through this process, a silver lining is that by being open and honest about it, I've gotten to connect in a new way with the people I care about. I've gotten to hear how they've found themselves struggling (I mean, part of this is seasonal, we all have to admit that). We all find ourselves in dark places sometimes. We all fall and break and that is okay. That is just being a human.
If you're finding yourself with a mysterious broken heart and soul, make sure to tell someone you love and trust. And remind yourself — we are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. <3