When It Feels Like You’re Drowning
You can take all the long hot baths and read all of the inspirational quotes that the internet has to offer, but for those of us who struggle with depression and anxiety (especially those of us out here in the toddler trenches every day) sometimes, things get dark.
There’s just no way around it for some of us.
If we are ever going to help ourselves, and each other... we HAVE to get real about it.
Sometimes, we feel like we can’t take ONE more request from our kids without losing our minds. We can’t take ONE more criticism from our spouse or friend or family member without wanting to dig a hole and pull the dirt over on top of us.
Even being left alone in the silence, so often our refuge, leaves us drowning in unbearable anguish and self-scrutiny. There have been days like this where I feel like I can’t even stand to be in my own skin one more second.
Let me tell you something, my friend, true depression doesn’t just go away on its own.
It may lift and float just out of our reach for a while, fooling us into thinking that we’re rid of it, but you need to know that you are fighting a war. If you don’t arm yourself with the weapons you need to do battle, it’s going to slither back down and swallow you up again.
You MUST get help. You must.
To the person reading this, struggling with this very thing, I am speaking directly to you like I wish someone would have spoken to me.
Please get help.
You are worth it.
The world is a much more beautiful and deep and good place, simply because you’re in it.
Don’t you dare let depression steal your light.
I know as parents a lot of the time, we play the “tough” card. We swallow down our pain and push our own feelings aside, because for some reason we think that’s what’s best for those around us.
If you don’t hear another thing I say, hear this:
There’s no strength in biting your tongue and silently drowning.
There’s no strength in pretending to be OK to the detriment of yourself.
There’s no strength in pretending to be OK to the detriment of those around you, who HAVE EYES and SEE what’s happening to you.
If you think your kids or your spouse, or your friends, or your grand-kids don’t see it, don't FEEL it...
If you think it doesn’t hurt them to watch you in pain... you’re fooling yourself.
I know, I know. That’s hard to hear.
Someone will say, “Oh great. Add GUILT on top of the depression. Great job, Crystal.”
You know what? I’m not saying anything that the person struggling with depression doesn’t already know and feel deep down in their soul.
Friend, there’s no strength in lying to yourself.
I know, because I do it sometimes too.
I let the words of the enemy, and of my own dark/mean brain take root.
I’ve been at the absolute bottom- more than once.
I’ve felt like my kids, my family, and the world around me would be much better off without me in it.
I felt like I was completely worthless, and a detriment to the people in my life.
I’ve felt invisible.
I’ve felt rage and anger so strong that I’ve been afraid of myself.
I’ve felt despair so thick and deep that it seemed as if sinking into it was so much easier than fighting.
I’ve felt absolute nothingness. Just a void of all emotion. Refusing to feel and shutting everyone and everything out.
The longer I sat and marinated in that, the worse it became.
One day, I reached out as a sort of Hail Mary and I found a counselor to talk with.
This counselor saw my immediate need and suggested I talk with my doctor about trying some anti-depressants, so I did.
Almost immediately, the pain and anxiety of carrying the burden alone lifted... which was honestly a really big deal.
I was still depressed, but no longer hopeless.
I had a plan.
About three weeks after I started the medication, I realized I didn’t really feel depressed anymore. It was like the fog just cleared for me.
I never felt like a zombie while taking the medication, which is something I know a lot of people are afraid of.
I never felt the medication actually change me at all.
I just wasn’t depressed anymore.
It was a drastic difference, and it was wonderful.
Asking for help for your depression is one of the bravest and strongest things you can do. Being vulnerable is hard. Putting yourself out there and saying, “I need help,” is hard.
The truth is:
* Being in nature didn’t work for me.
* Essential Oils didn’t work for me.
* Meditation didn’t work for me.
* Changing my diet didn’t work for me.
* Losing over 50 lbs. didn’t work for me.
* Vacationing didn’t work for me. * Taking time for myself to practice self-care didn’t work for me.
I know some of my Christian friends are reading this and thinking, but what about your Faith? Where does your Faith in Jesus play into all of this?
All of the prayers in the world DID NOT WORK for me until I was willing to also get help for myself.
I know there are some Christians out there clutching their pearls right now.
You heard that right.
Prayer alone did not work for me.
We have to get honest about something...
If there’s anything we’ve learned from the tragic suicide of California Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, it’s that the church has a long way to go when it comes to dealing with mental illness responsibly.
Think of it this way:
I have Type 1 Diabetes. I have to take insulin for my diabetes, because if I don’t, I will die. No matter how much I pray for God’s healing, unless one day He decides to perform a complete miracle (which I’m not saying He can’t do) I’m going to have diabetes for the rest of my life. I’m going to have to take insulin for the rest of my life.
The same goes for depression. Depression is a disease of the brain. There are many contributing factors, but without SOME type of intervention, it will get worse. Without counseling to work through certain issues, or without medication to alter the chemical imbalance in your brain, it won’t get better.
The longer you sit around and wait to “feel better” the more the illness will progress.
Medication changed everything for me.
As a diabetic, should I be ashamed that I have to rely on insulin to stay healthy and alive? Of course not. That’s ridiculous.
We should not be embarrassed of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication either.
It helps us stay healthy and alive.
It’s just like any other medication.
Anyone who would shame us or make us feel guilty for having to take them are obviously ignorant. Shame on those people. Stop being part of the problem.
I give the credit for the strength to reach out, for finding the specific therapist that I needed, and for the doctor knowing the right combination of meds... to God.
We can pray for healing, but we also have to listen to His answer on how to get there. We can’t rely on ourselves alone.
That doesn’t make me any less of a believer.
That doesn’t make my Faith weak.
That makes me in tune and willing to hear Him when He is whispering to my soul that I need help. That I don’t have to suffer in silence. That in my weakness, I can find the strength I need in Him to seek help and advocate for myself.
There is SO MUCH HOPE in Jesus, friends. He has given me strength when I had nothing left. However, I truly believe we play a part in our own healing.
We have to listen to what He says when He answers us back in our prayers.
He will never ever stop fighting for us, but we have to be willing to fight for ourselves too.
I wish I could say that the medication completely erased the depression for me. It hasn't. Some days, my hormones are all messed up, or circumstances are particularly difficult... and on those days, I still struggle.
Honestly, some days are difficult for no reason at all.
However, I'm not fighting alone. I know what I need to do to take care of myself... and I do it.
If you are reading this and feel like you are in that dark place, you don’t have to be there alone. There are so many resources out there, but you have to be willing to take that first step for yourself.
You wouldn’t sit on your hands if you had a serious illness. You’d see a doctor.
That’s your first step.
Talk to your doctor, or a licensed counselor.
Let someone in who can help.
Do not let the ocean of depression wear you down until it swallows you up.
Your lifeline is in the water, but you must grab hold of it and not let go.
You must kick your legs and fight.
To talk with someone now over chat, visit:
Or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24 hours a day: