Wednesday, January 4, 2012

If you've ever struggled...

As I start this post I'm thinking you won't get any pics today.  I want the words to really speak for themselves as I take a giant leap (once again) into one of my darkest demons.

After reading about the hilarious 5' chicken last night I took a little time to browse through a few more posts at  Please take the time to read this one.  I'm fairly certain that if you're here on my blog, you will likely be drawn to read it anyway.  I believe things just work that way.

I can relate with this woman.  I believe many of us can.  It's tough to admit and even tougher to embrace "that" part of yourself.  The weak part, that brings so much shame and embarrassment to our lives.  But all that shame and embarrassment, well, it's all in our head.  I better just speak for myself here.  It's all in my head.  I don't like to talk about my trips down "heavy" lane, much less fully disclose their ugly details here on the internet.  I'm have not come far enough to fully tell my story...yet.  There will come a day I will do that, it's just not going to be today.  Instead I am going to share with you the things that have helped me deal with and recover from the depression/anxiety monster.  They may not work for you.  I am not professing to have any kind of special knowledge,  cure,  or magic concoction to make it all just disappear (although I really wish I did, I'd pass that stuff out like candy).  I just have experience and have learned what works for me.

I'm going to number these out, but please understand these steps came in cycles and in no particular order and I've had to repeat all of them more than once.

#1 - I refuse to give up on myself.   I wanted to many times, but I decided years ago that would not be an option.  EVER!  No matter how bad it got, if all I could manage was to keep breathing, that was fine.  But I refuse to check out on my own free will.  I don't want to go out that way, and I certainly don't want that left behind for my family to have to deal with.  It sucks.  I've been there and done that. I refuse to leave a legacy of suicide behind for my children.  Even if that means living the rest of my natural life within the walls of hell we call depression.  I do not want my children to ever think suicide is an option.

#2 - I acknowledged I am different and learned over time to accept that and even love it.  I dug through every ugly aspect of myself and learned that I was my own worst enemy.  The expectations put upon me that I could not live up to were mostly my own. And the people in my life that I allowed to put unrealistic expectations upon me, well, I "divorced" them.

#3 - I started the long process of getting to know and love ME.  I had to learn to value myself the same way I do my mom, my children, my best friends, my partner.  I was/am capable of so much love, I just had to learn how to direct some of that towards myself.

#4 - I forgave and continue to forgive daily.  Mostly myself.  I had to step up and take responsibility for me and my own happiness.  I had to learn to forgive my own mistakes before I could ever fully forgive anyone else.  I watched an episode of Oprah (guilty pleasure #345) in which forgiveness was described as "letting go of the hope that the past could have been any different than it was, accepting it as it was and moving forward".  Once I was able to look at my past from that perspective it has become much easier to forgive and move on from the events better left behind.  It used to piss me off, people always telling you to forgive yet never telling you how or what forgiveness really was.  This has been one of the most helpful lessons for me.

#5 - I'm learning to be patient with myself.  I'm learning to love myself.  I'm learning to take care of myself.  And through that I'm a better mother, daughter, sister, partner, friend, and overall person.  It is NOT selfish to take care of yourself.  Quite the opposite.  You do the whole world a favor when you're caring for yourself.  And besides, it's your responsibility, not anyone else's.  We are all responsible for ourselves.

#6 - I am not responsible for the happiness of others.  I used to let a few select people make me responsible for their happiness.  I let them pressure me into constantly trying to make them happy.  Somehow thinking if they were happy I'd be happy.  WRONG!!!  I set myself up to have most of my life energy sucked out of me trying to please someone who would never be happy anyway.  I kept working so hard to make more money, because he made it clear that is what was important, and ended up divorced and in financial ruin.  Simply because I wanted him and his family to love and accept me. That was not going to happen.  Regardless of what I did or how much money I made it would have never been enough to buy me the love and acceptance I so desperately wanted.

Through these steps (I'm sure I've left something out, but this was a good starting point for me) I have found happiness.  I still battle with depression and anxiety from time to time.  I think that is a reminder that I have to stay proactively working on myself.  It's a constant effort.  I'm engaged to a man who fully accepts me just the way I am and loves me and even my crazy.  I'm still in financial ruin, but I'm happier than I have ever been in my entire life.  My kids are flourishing and more comfortable around me.  My friends are REAL friends. I have an amazing support system.  And I love me just the way I am.  I know I'm a work in progress and I've learned to love it.  Working on my own crap has changed my entire life.  It's been scary and very difficult sometimes, but the payoff has been amazing.

I pray that if there is anyone out there that needs these words, they find them and feel every ounce of love and compassion behind them.  You are never alone.

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