My name isKamiand I have battled depression and anxiety for most of my life.
For as long as I can remember, these are the ways that can describe how I've felt:
Most of my life, I have simply felt exhausted. Medically, I don't have anything "wrong" with me. I am a healthy, active 26 year old mom to three (beautiful, I might add) children. I eat an extremely healthy diet of whole foods (and no gluten). I have a good marriage and a husband who loves me. I do my best to have a relationship with God. So why am I still bogged down by the weight of depression and anxiety?
My first real memory of a significant episode of depression was during my senior year of High School. My best friend who was an exchange student had just returned home to France and I felt very alone. I spent a lot of time that year crying. I didn't know how to deal with my feelings and there was nobody to reach out to, who really understood me. My next episode happened my Freshman year of college. I was homesick, in a new place, and once more felt very alone. I slept a lot, failed my classes, yet I still dismissed it as just a case of homesickness.
My next bout of depression came when I should have been happiest - I was studying abroad in Paris, unofficially engaged to my now husband, and living my dream! There were many happy moments during those three months, but overall I was still so depressed. I slept all the time, missed out on once in a lifetime opportunities, and cried myself to sleep because I just couldn't shake the sadness. After that, I lived pretty free from any major episodes of depression for the next few years- which I now see as a blessing. A moment to be free from the darkness that was headed my way.
After the birth of my second child, things really spiraled out of control. Coupled with the changing of hormones and some extremely challenging life situations (one being my son having seizures and needing to go off of gluten when my little baby was only 4 months old), I slipped down and down, further into depression. I was so deep in that I couldn't recognize it. I didn't even know I needed help. I would feel happy at times, but my overall feeling was generally numb. Looking back, I actually don't know how I handled it all. By some small miracle, I suppose.
I still remember my darkest moment - I was so tired and couldn't handle anything. My small baby was crying and my two year old was running wild and wouldn't nap. I was alone, couldn't think straight, and all I wanted to do was bury myself under my covers and never return. I became really short tempered and nearly violent with my two year old. I recognized my darkness, caught myself, and locked myself alone in my closet to cry. I sobbed and sobbed while my children cried and cried outside my door. I was so low, completely alone, in such despair, and I had no hope of ever feeling happy again.
I hid my depression. I denied it. I told myself to buck up. I was fine. Why wasn't I handling motherhood the same as all the women around me? Why couldn't I keep up with the demands that everyone else keeps up with?Because I am weak, I told myself. I need to do better. Those were the LIES that depression fed me.
Things got better with time but the depression would always come back. Thirteen months later, I found myself newly pregnant again, this time with my third child. I felt hopeless. Sad that I couldn't feel happy that I was pregnant. Worried. I did my best through that pregnancy to overcome my dark feelings and eventually found joy, and even excitement. But still. Feelings of numbness.
Three weeks after her birth, once more, I could feel myself spiraling down. This time I was prepared. I told my husband I was spiraling down. I started taking 5-HTP (a supplement to help with mood), I got extra sleep, more alone time, and I went to see a counselor. In my first and only session with her, I already felt lighter. She reminded me that my cup was empty and I needed to find ways to fill it up. So I began a journey to find me...to find Kami again.
Six months later I tanked. Barely able to pull myself out of bed at the demands of my three children, I called my husband home from his full-time graduate program to rescue me. I locked my door and slept the day away to recharge.
I still vividly remember the moment I realized how sick I was. I was standing at the counter, remembering times in High School when I would wonder to myself how many people would come to my funeral if I died. Scared to admit it, I asked my husband if he'd ever wondered that same thing before. Shocked, he said "no". And that's when I realized that those types of thoughts are not normal. That's when I realized how sick I'd been for much of my life.I now see that I never really knew what it was like to feel alive and well. I have lived in a fog most of my life and never knew it. I felt sad. Sad for so much lost time. But for the first time in a long time I felt hope.I was ready to fight!
I made an appointment with a new therapist and got in the next day. The decision to see a therapist was life saving for me. Many of the things that lead to my depression stem from events or themes from my childhood. Sorting through all of those issues has lightened my emotional load considerably. I am also more aware of my feelings. I evaluate myself more. I take care of myself and my needs. I continue to eat a healthy diet and take supplements that lead to emotional clarity and balance. I read uplifting words and watch inspiring videos like this.
When I was in the darkness of depression, I could not simply choose happiness. It would come and go, but it was not always my choice. Depression is sneaky...it catches me when I least expect it. Now that I am in a healthier state, I CAN choose happiness, and I do. I try to live in each moment. I try to breathe in the sweetness of my baby's breath. I soak in the cool breeze. For so long, I didn't allow myself to feel anything. I numbed my feelings - my pain but even my joy. I finally have a healthy outlook on life. Events can happen in my life, even stressful ones, and I can face them head on. I am stronger now and I realize my worth.
My name is Kami and I am learning that I am worthy of great things.I am learning to love myself more and be a little more gentle with myself. I am learning to be vulnerable. I am allowing myself to feel again - both joy and pain - and I am freeing myself from the bondage of depression.
And it feels so good.
**Remember that the purpose of this series is to open our hearts, to interact, to uplift, to support and to grow.Kami will be reading your comments and so, you may comment directly to her. Questions and/or words of encouragement are welcome. You can follow her amazing blog, Finding My Niche, and you can also read her other pieces about this specific topic here and here.
**Kami, thank you for bringing us into such a deep part of your life. Thank you for sharing the brutal reality of it, as well as your inspiring resolve. You are worth a priceless amount and I'm delighted that you finally have the ability and power within to see it, too. Courageous and unbreakable and beautiful... Love you!