Sure, I had felt the blues before, you know, days where you just can't seem to make progress. Days when you don't want to get out of bed but you do anyway. Everyone has those. But I'd never known sinking depression on that level since I was in my early twenties and experienced a really big break up with someone I thought I had loved.
I'm always very hopeful and optimistic. With that, you almost become responsible to be a light to everyone. You become known as a light. And then you just shine and shine and shine and even when you have nothing left to shine, you find something and shine anyway. And then you get drained after a long enough time. Then you start to fake or pretend that you are fine, because you don't want to let anyone down. And of course, your ego is involved at that point. You are known to be shining and encouraging and motivating, you can't possibly show people that you feel like shit inside and wish you could run away and go live on a secluded island for a year.
For me, it all started in March after my birthday and by end of May, I was hitting bottom. In June, I had a momentary lapse of "I've got this!" and then, boom. I didn't have anything, I was a mess. The dark clouds came in fast and furious. And stayed.
July and August were horrific.
I didn't want to get out of bed for TWO MONTHS. I have a toddler to care for, so he was my motivation to shower and get up and get the day started. But boy, I didn't always want to be responsible. I wanted to go to sleep at 8pm and a lot of the time, I did. I felt guilty giving in to my feelings at first. "I'm strong", I told myself, "why am I giving in to these feelings, I'm a mom for god's sake, how can I be such a wreck, my son needs me?".
But after awhile I stopped pretending to be strong and I started to allow myself to be vulnerable. Through the help of friends, I realized that I needed to drop the act and tell people how I was really feeling because I had built a WALL around me and it was not helping my friendships. I needed to learn what I craved the most in my life - intimacy - wasn't what I myself was giving to others. I wasn't open and working towards intimacy in my relationships yet I expected this from my friends. How about that?
What I realized is that I always thought I was so open - I have a blog, I write a lot of stuff here that I'd consider pretty revealing at times. I share my life on the internet, in the press, in my books... But this isn't really being OPEN. Sure, I'm more open than the average person who would never dare write about their child birth experience online like I did, or they'd never show their home online, etc. But I still am open in a way that I am safe with. In other words, and I think a lot of us do this online, I am open when it comes to showing the good stuff in my life. I'm open with all of the positive things. Not to show off, but because I really want to inspire people to be happier and I think that sharing that I'm in a dark place isn't going to help anyone else. So I stay quiet and I hide.
Yet, one thing I crave more and more, and maybe it's because I've been writing professionally online for over a decade, is greater authenticity. No, I don't mean showing my ugly disorganized closet or me not wearing makeup. What I do mean is being a bit more open to how I feel and expressing it openly. Sharing that yes, while we enjoyed our trip we also had to deal with a screaming toddler and 100 melt downs and I almost missed my flight because I was too busy texting someone. Or yes, our house looks great but before the photo was taken, it was a giant mess of toys and I decided to clean it to a take a nice photo for the internet. You know, just being more natural and more normal and stop fearing judgement because all of that can ultimately suck our life out and make others feel like crap too.
First world problem. I know. But it's causing a lot of people to ultimately experience burn out, depression and a lot of other unnecessary problems because all of the perfect we see. It's nice to hear the stories behind what we see online and to open up about our very human experiences. That is the definition of being open and authentic.
Now that I'm beyond the darkest darks, I'm doing a lot to change my life for the better. When I make my mind up, I really make my mind up. And for many things in my life that I've sat idle on for a long time... Well let's just say I made my mind up to do several things very differently.
How about you, have you ever hit a period of depression? How did you end it? I'm glad my time is over with this but it was NOT FUN. But I learned so much, mostly what I learned is who my real friends really are. That was so revealing... To see who sticks by you when you're not your best self and need help. Also, I learned what wasn't working in my life and what needed to change. I'm taking steps each day to change those things and that movement alone, the new flow of energy the movement is creating, has helped tremendously.
Love you all.
(photography Holly Becker)