The Bad Days

Thursday, 10 September 2015

I wrote a while back about this subject, and while part of me doesn't really want to think about it any more than I have to, part of me knows I need to.

I want to talk a little about depression and anxiety. I know this feels like a worrying thing to talk about publicly, but that pushes me on to talk about it even more: there shouldn't be a stigma about it, not really. There are people I admire who have struggled with, say, postnatal depression, and have declared it for what it is and have refused to pretend it doesn't exist.

I think that's really brave.

So here is where I am:

I mostly feel fine. Better than I was a few months ago. And then, suddenly, out of the blue, it hits me. I realise I am treading on the waters of anxiety, of panic, of a total lack of hope, and it feels unfathomably deep.

It wants to paralyse me; to climb from my chest up into my throat and stop me, mid-moment, mid-life. My instinct is to curl up in a ball until it goes away.

I don't, obviously. I can't. When I feel like I really can't face getting on with it, I think of the people around me (more than I realised) who suffer from depression or anxiety or panic attacks, and how they face up to their fears and grit their teeth and plow through it. So I do it too. I am thankful again for being home with Jellybean, even though that comes with its own challenges. Obviously I don't want her to be affected by how I feel. I plaster on a smile and pick myself up and we carry on.

I keep carrying on, usually, until Jellybean goes to bed and the sun is setting and I realise I've been paddling so hard all day that I haven't got any energy left. I am utterly spent. It feels like a choice, on days like that. Who will get the tired, lifeless me? My husband or my daughter? Usually it's my husband and he is always okay with that, because he understands. But I don't like having to make that choice.

I'm afraid of this new stage to come, this unknown we are going into, that circumstances have forced us into. I want to be the kind of mama that leaps into a new start with a smile, but I'm not that, at least not now. I am the kind of mama that crawls towards the next stage, stopping for breaks, sighing heavily, and longing for the place I came from.

So, I'm trying to call this for what it is. Shining a light on this strange new thing, inspecting it. Analysing it. Sometimes, when I'm far away from it, I come to the conclusion that it's just a stage, that it is a thing that is happening to me, but it doesn't define me. It doesn't mean everything. But when I feel at my lowest, it feels like everything. I lose my perception of how things are because I am in the midst of it and it feels huge, an unbeatable monster rising against a tiny wisp of a girl.

I don't blame you right now if you're wanting to say 'Listen, some people have real problems.' I do understand that. In fact, I dwell on that a lot (especially recently). But I think life is difficult for everyone in different ways. I don't, and haven't ever, believed that as a Christian I am exempt from that, that believing in God means walking around in a blessed, comfortable bubble. For whatever reason, this is what I'm walking through right now, and, of course, it's not what I asked for. I think this is not what I imagined I'd be dealing with. This is not the way things were supposed to go. 

Which I guess, is how everyone thinks when things take a turn for the unexpected. I never thought I'd be dealing with depression - it is unlike me. I always find a way to pick myself up and get over it. I feel immensely frustrated with myself that I can't do that, that I find myself physically and mentally blocked at every turn.

And then I think, there is so much suffering in the world, even just amongst the people I know and love, and my heart feels heavy with the weight of it.

Tonight, I sat down for the first time in a while on my own, lit some candles, and read this.

'The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.' - Psalm 145:14

I trust that. I am bowed down. My picking up might not come immediately, but it will.

All I can do is shine a light on the darkness. Call it for what it is. Trust that God is bigger than it, than me, than everything I know. And while I wait for the storm to pass, I photograph and write about beautiful moments, and I gather them close to myself, like treasure. I catalogue things to thank God for. I read in my Jonah study book, 'it's all about posture'. I don't understand how I feel, but I can maintain a posture of thankfulness. Even when it's hard.

Life is beautiful and there are small things that help me stay afloat.

There are things like an unexpected cuddle from your toddler, and her curly frizzy bed hair. A squeeze of the hand that you really need, but didn't have to ask for. A sentence that you read that makes something deep in your heart click, a mutual understanding between writer and reader, falling into place.

A flicker of candlelight and the crinkle of a thin page.

They are things that I hold close, like talismans against the darkness, and I join the ranks of people around me that I love and respect that have felt the same way, and I keep pushing on.

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