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Giving Myself Grace

I’ve been in a huge season of change in my life as of late.  It’s why I haven’t been on here much.  I realized quickly how much harder it was going to be for me to keep up with this blog and I was disappointed in myself for not keeping up.  So, I did something about it.  No, I didn’t pick up my computer and start writing just to keep up with this blog.  I started researching and learning how others keep up when life seems to get unusually busy, when change happens and it doesn’t feel comfortable to continue to write until I’m done going through what I’m going through, and essentially how to just keep up with a blog.  I thought I did research before, but it wasn’t enough.  And now I’ve learned something new so while you all were patiently waiting for me to return, I’ve been busy building a repertoire of pieces that will help me keep up during the busy seasons of life or when I go through something as I have recently that makes me not want to do much of anything.  I’m sure you can guess what that might include and of course I’ll be speaking about that today.  Any guesses so far?  No?  Well, here you have it:

Depression.  Depression is so hard to explain.  Some people feel an eluding sense of sadness.  Some people just feel a bit down or unwell.  And some people just feel numb, to everything.  I want to, however, explain what depression is not for me.

My Depression doesn’t always have a set timeline.  For how long I’m going to be depressed is not always predictable.  Usually, if I’m triggered into a depression I don’t sit in it for too long.  Maybe a week tops.  And it depends on the trigger.  If it’s self induced, well, it will take me that week to get going to my normal sense of functioning because usually it has something to do with me changing my set of behaviors and way of thinking or perceiving things.  But sometimes, when I’m analyzing a situation that triggered it, I have to realize on my own that someone else’s behavior is their problem, their projection on to me is their problem and not mine.  I don’t have to own their problems.

You’re probably thinking, “well, why would you own someone else’s problems?”  My answer to that isn’t exactly simple.  With having people in my life, my whole life, who have told me I’m wrong, I’m worthless, I’m crazy, I’m overly emotional and then shamed me for being me, belittled me to the point of no self esteem and feeling worthless and that they are right about me, well, I became who they wanted me to be.  I let go of my own convictions to appease.  And when it happens over and over and over in my life, I mean, how does one not think he/she is wrong?  How does one not take a look at themselves, seeing a pattern of how others have perceived me, and not change that part of themselves?

I owned other people’s problems because I didn’t understand projection.  I didn’t understand that when people are in pain or they are miserable with themselves that they will do everything in their power to knock another person down in order to make themselves feel powerful, or in control, or to spread the pain and misery they were in (if they couldn’t be happy, no one else will either).  I didn’t understand it because what I believed whole heartedly was that I was not perfect, no one was; I only knew love and compassion and because I was so compassionate and didn’t want them to feel any more pain, I let myself be the punching bag over and over and over until I believed what they had to say about me (but hey, it made them feel better, right?).  It’s also because I did not project my pain or misery.  And yes, I will absolutely own the fact that I let this continue for most of my life.  It has been the hardest lesson for me to learn, self boundaries.  I’ve always respected other people’s boundaries, but never set boundaries for myself and once I learned that, my triggers became less and less and my depression became less and less.  I spent most of my life fighting a battle with depression because it was like my soul knew that I was not who others were saying I was so it put me in a depression to at least numb myself from feeling the extent of someone else’s misery.  Now, I’m not blaming here.  I’m showing cause and effect so let’s just get that straight right now because in my story, the only person to blame is me and what I allow to happen, how I allow others to treat me so don’t get it twisted sister. I will always hold myself accountable; for me, for my actions, for my thoughts… but not for your behavior.

These days it seems my depression has no trigger.  I don’t know if I mentioned but I had received a diagnosis of Bipolar 2 disorder.  And through some therapy for nearly a year (CBT therapy), my diagnosis is currently delayed.  Another thing for most of my life that has been teetered with has been this diagnosis.  It is very possible I am dealing with Bipolar.  It runs in the family so I can’t negate it from a list of possibilities.  Any how, therapy has certainly helped me to regain knowledge on specific situations where we, my therapist and I, have come to the conclusion that I really was more like a people pleaser and really didn’t know who I was aside from other people’s opinions.  Like I said just a little bit ago, I was overly compassionate, didn’t know how to set boundaries for myself, I was a punching bag for others, and believed what they “knew” about me.  And as I said before, that was pretty much a life long battle; in and out and in and out and in out of depression.  Our bodies physically respond to consistent mental aguish and stress and what have you.  We essentially train our bodies to respond involuntarily and we knew this thanks to Sigmund Freud’s theories in psychoanalysis.  So it is very possible that my depression that has had no triggers in the last year are because my body and my physical brain became wired as such that it is merely putting me into a depression I can’t explain because it’s merely involuntary.  Now, I have to unlearn this and rewire my brain and body in order to debunk my diagnosis.  This may take some time to do as it is not easy.

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I have been noticing for some time now that I haven’t had any triggers to my depression and I went through a pretty bad depression that lasted about a month, recently.  With all the therapy that I’ve had and all the goodness and mindset change and discovering that I actually like, no love, who I am and am becoming, I don’t have much that would trigger a depression like this last one.  I have a ton of good things happening for me.  I am home with my kids, my husband and I have been working on our marriage too and our communication is pretty damn impeccable if I do say so myself, my kids are bundles of joy every single day (even on their bad days <3), our finances are slowly but surely getting better each month, I’ve just all around been happier and more thankful for my life every single day so when this depression hit and I realized it, it initially made me even more depressed.  Like, acknowledging it made it true and made me sink deeper.  I felt sorry for myself, of course, because damn it, why?  There’s no rhyme or reason for it.  I’m happy.  Doesn’t my brain want me to be happy? (Enter the realization that I trained my body to respond in such a way almost my whole life, duh!)  This is where the title of this blog post comes in, I learned grace, or should I say, I am teaching myself grace.  I’ll get to that in a minute, though.

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Upon my own realization that I taught my body to physically react the way it does with depression, I can tell you depression is not weakness!  I have to rewire something I can’t see!  It absolutely does take a lot of mental effort to rewire.  We all know it’s hard to get out of a negative mindset, to change a behavior we’ve had for most of our lives, that change simply is not easy.  Fighting depression is not weakness what so ever.  We are training a for a marathon in our brains!  How is that weak?  Because you can’t physically see it?  Isn’t it hard for people to believe in God when they can’t see Him?  It’s the same concept folks.  I think it harder because it isn’t tangible to everyone.

This means we really need to get rid of the stigma that we can’t just “suck it up.”  Trust me when I say, there’s been plenty in my life that I’ve just “sucked it up.”  Bad grades, having a forth child unplanned (that’s a big one people), lack of funds, forgot to pay a bill, didn’t get to work or school on time for whatever reason, believe me, I’ve sucked it up a lot in my life and it didn’t trigger a depression.  Sometimes, somethings we can just suck it up and deal and we deal how we deal because we are not you!  Everyone reacts differently, everyone behaves differently, everyone is freaking different! Okay? Okay!

And for the love (as Meredith would say from That’s Inappropriate), depression is NOT laziness!!!!!  Depression is so so much like being sick and sometimes depression can cause illness!  Like I said, our brains are more powerful than we think and can trick our bodies into thinking it’s actually sick and have a physical response to the stimuli!!  Thank you science!!  Man, knowledge and understanding really is powerful isn’t it!?  I know not all of you won’t jump on the “understanding” train wagon and go research this for yourself for you own proof and/or judgement.  I know that not all of you will have the same heart as myself.  And really, that’s on you if you think your judgement and/or opinion is the correct one, not me.  Any way, I’m far from lazy when I’m depressed.  If that was the case, my children would be neglected, everyone would physically be able to see that and my children would be removed from my home.  Are they?  Nope!  Any of you know why that hasn’t happened?  Because even when I’m going through that I make sure they have what they need if they can’t get it themselves.  I still have heart to hearts with my almost teenager.  Middle school is rough, man!  I still have heart to hearts with my 10 year old because she is not only tall, but she is bigger boned that most of the girls in her class.  I am still getting them up and on time to school.  I am still cooking breakfast and dinner (not lunch unless it’s the weekend or a day off from school – minus the youngest cuz she’s home with me which means I make her her lunch).  I am still doing laundry.  I’m still doing basic chores and keeping up with the house.  It may not have gotten deep cleaned once a week while I was depressed for a month but I still managed to take out the trash, wash dishes, wipe down the counters, scrub the toilet, sweep, mop, do the bills, go to the store, etc etc.  I still did all of those things!  I just didn’t play with my 3 year old on the floor for a month.  I sat on the couch and watched toons or my shows.  I didn’t plan play dates, I instead sent my kids to the pool to get out of my hair.  I didn’t get dressed in real clothes or put on make up.  I didn’t read my kids to sleep.  I didn’t cook those fancy meals as I did before.  I took naps.  That isn’t laziness people!  I still did things!  I still got out of bed!  Some folks I hear get paralyzed in their depression and wind up staying in bed.  But I’ll be damned if I didn’t want to stay in bed and wished very much I did.  The battle in my head was insane, it was hard and it physically exhausted me, so no judgement to those who get back in bed after every task.  For myself, I wasn’t lazy.  I just didn’t give 110%, I didn’t do all the extra stuff I normally do and why would any one expect any one else to continue to give 110% when they’re sick?  We don’t ask chemo patients to go run a mile.  We don’t ask someone with an MS flare up to go lift weights.  We know full well that rest is the best medicine.

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Now, on to my point here.  With my depression, I learned grace.  In order to see if I have any control over my body and change the way it has reacted all these years with triggers of depression, to change my mindset, I have had to learn to give myself grace instead of guilt.  Maybe that looks like forgiving myself more easily or more often.  Maybe it’s being ok with who I am and how I’ve trained my body all these years and accepting that fact.  Maybe it’s moving on.  Maybe it’s less it guilt.  Maybe it’s a combination of many things.  I would say the latter.  The best I can do to explain this is to tell you that instead of feeling sorry for myself, when I realized I was in a pretty deep depression, I acknowledged it, I said it out loud to myself.  “Ok, Darcy, this looks and feels like depression.  You’re depressed and that’s ok.”  Believe me, I had a momentary lapse in my mindset and felt sorry for myself a few times when thinking about what triggered it.  I went through my triggers and came up empty.  So, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I called my therapist to come up with a solution or at least an explanation which is where the theory that I had trained my body to physically respond so much that it was doing it involuntarily was exactly what explained what I was going through and why.  There was no need to internalize my own behavior and go through past scenarios, tricking myself into thinking that I deserved it, that I triggered it, that I did something to screw up my happy place (grace).

So, I moved on into more acceptance.  Every time I felt like I needed to revisit the past, revisit why I’m depressed, I shut it down quickly and said aloud, “It is what it is, just accept it!  It’s ok to be like this for the time being.”  Because it is ok that I’m going through this.  There is no shame.  I am not any of those stigma’s surrounding depression.  I am not who people think I am (more grace)!  And then I started to think about the length of its stay.  I really didn’t want to be depressed.  I didn’t think I had time to be depressed with school coming up fairly quickly and that lead to thoughts of how I might fail my kids while depressed.

When I’m depressed, sleep isn’t easy to get in to and it isn’t easy to get out of.  I tend to not hear alarms.  My REM sleep is never long enough according to my Fitbit during my depressions so my fear of failing my children when school started became my reality and it hadn’t even started yet (yes, that’s anxiety).  So, I again, acknowledged my depression and my anxiety.  I reminded myself aloud to a friend, this time, that I was in a depression and that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hear the alarms and get up on time to get the kids to school on time.  She also acknowledged it and she walked me through her own story of depression and how she deals with it.  Just getting that fear off my chest and off my mind and out in the open helped!  “I am not alone in this,” I told myself aloud (more grace).

Upon not feeling so alone, I was a little better, I was more at peace.  And I realized something:  If I’m not alone in this, if I am not the only person who goes through this then it is perfectly ok if I make a mistake and not hear the alarm a few times.  It isn’t the end of the world and there will always be more tomorrows to start fresh, to start over and try again.  It is also perfectly ok to not try and do too much.  I don’t need to do more than what I am capable of at this particular season of my life.  I don’t have to go camping just because my husband wants to.  I don’t have to have a set schedule with the kids at home.  If we eat dinner later than usual, it is just fine because they will eat, their bellies will be full and they won’t starve!  I don’t have to read my kids a chapter in a book every single night.  I deserve time to myself sometimes and be committed to myself as much as I am committed to my children and husband.  I am worth spending some time on getting extra rest or binge watching a show or reading a book, or coloring in my adult coloring books.  I don’t have to post everything positive on my Facebook.  If I can admit I’m depressed in real life, face to face, then I can do it on Facebook too, I ain’t gotta lie!  I don’t want to be fake.  I don’t want to be superficial, I’m not superficial, period.  I don’t have to say yes to things I would really rather not do right now so that I don’t have to explain I’m just not myself or give any other excuse in the world to justify my absence.  I owe no one an explanation.  It isn’t necessary (even more grace).

All in all, what grace has taught me is that I don’t have to be doing and going at 110% all of the time.  I can focus on one thing at a time, one task at a time, one breath at a time, one step at a time and NOT worry about anything else!  Ok, we need some laundry done.  “If that’s all the extra I have in me today, it’s ok!  The kids will have clean clothes!”  The dishes need to be done but I can’t move off of this couch at this particular point in time, I am accepting I am paralyzed and numb and just simply can’t.  “It’s ok to ask your older children for a little extra help today, Darcy.  They need to learn more responsibilities, they need to learn that where their partner may be down for a bit, they will pick up the slack as their partner will do for them in turn.”  Moreover, I simply learned to be ok with and accept the choices I make during this particular time and it is ok for me not to tell someone about it so that I may be subjected to their thoughts and opinions about how I’m not doing enough or being enough or that I should do what they do because it gets them out of a slump sooner.  I learned it is ok to avoid people who make me feel worse during this particular time!  I learned that it is ok to do what I find is best for me (NOT THEM) during this particular time.  And most of all, I learned that I am not a bad person or less than because I’m depressed, period.  I gave myself grace and this grace, I’m sure, will help me to rewire my physical sense.  If it doesn’t, over time, then we will know that it’s not something I can control, it’s a genetic factor and I just may well need to be medicated, and that is ok!!!

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