Fatigue and depression have hijacked my life.
This is what I said to a psychiatrist upon meeting him for the first time. I was consulting him for an evaluation and treatment suggestions for my Major Depressive Disorder.
I was captive in my own life. The brain fog that accompanied both the fatigue and depression had me dysfunctional and stuck. Forget about dysfunctional, it made me barely functional. I was barely surviving.
I wanted a different life for myself. A life of authenticity and integrity. The freedom to live and be my true self.
Moving through depression
I only began to see the hidden gifts once I was able to take full responsibility for my life.
Before this I fought the depression. Gasping for air, I wished to be different. I wanted to be a normal, functioning human being that was a full participant in my life.
Living on the sidelines of my life did not cut it anymore.
I lived my life making sure everyone else had what they wanted and needed. But I left out the most important person in my life- ME!
The cage that binds
Terrified of displeasing others, I had built a cage for myself.
A cage that bound me. The bars were other people’s hopes and expectations of me. In hindsight, this is absolutely ridiculous. Yet, it was a pattern learned and lived for the majority of my life.
I learned this pattern because I was afraid to be myself.
Being my true self, was not good enough. It would cause ripples that affected other people.
To relieve them of their pain and discomfort, I played small. I squashed myself to fit in it. What I really wanted was to break free.
I had to move through the depression. The only way to do that was to fully live and feel it. Then that I could see and feel it’s inherent gifts.
The depression was teaching me, I had to get back to myself.
I had to play full out in my life as ME.
All of me. Not by what societal beliefs and expectations were. Not by what other people thought I should do or how I should live my life.
Only I had the answers and they were the hidden gifts in my depression.
The hidden gifts
I had to find the way back to me. I needed to create the roadmap back to myself. The only way I could achieve that was by taking a good honest look at what my unique needs were.
The first thing I learned was that I had to take good self-care. The first step to this was ensuring I had a team behind me. People like my doctor and psychologist among others that helped me.
Medication was also an important aspect of my healing process. I hesitated at first because I felt like it was a bandaid solution. I didn’t think it would heal the root causes of my depression.
Medication did not free me of my depression. But it did help lift the fatigue and the brain fog so that I could have the presence of mind to do the real healing work.
The healing work began as I started to realize the parts of myself I was neglecting. I had been so focussed on other people’s wellbeing, that I failed to make my own a priority.
Once I identified my personal and unique needs, (Self-care inventory), I was able to tend to those needs. And I began to respond to them and nurture them.
We all need sleep. I need more than others. I have hypothyroidism, and I am an introvert. Being around other people for extended periods of time exhausts me.
I need down time to process the thoughts and emotions. I have difficulty doing that when I am with other people.
An essential part of my wellbeing is making the time to process my thoughts and feelings. Daily reflection was a vital component of my self-care.
As I realized how important both sleep and this need for reflection were to my well-being. I then began to carve out time to make sure it happened.
Once I learned to respect my unique needs, I was able to teach my husband, children and others to respect them also. In essence, I was setting my boundaries and limits so I could respect myself.
Before I moved through my depression, I had a tendency to judge and criticize myself. “You are too hard on yourself” was something I heard often from a variety of sources.
I wan’t good enough, I wasn’t doing enough. I was lazy. Ha, I had even said once or a few times how I felt like a failure as a human being. Moving through depression, helped me to accept myself fully.
I learned to be compassionate with myself. I was human and hence not perfect.
Part of the reason for my depression, was that I valued myself through what I thought others saw in me. In other words, I was dependent on other people’s values and opinions of me.
I sought out external success and accomplishments as the gauge of how “worthy” I was as a person.
The truth is, as long as I was doing this, I would feel empty inside.
I had to learn to truly love myself, exactly how I was and for who I am.
Depression was teaching me that. That who I was, my true self, was not only enough, but it was also the key to living my best life.
Empathy and the gift of service
I have always had a gift of empathy and compassion for others. But as I began to work through my depression, these gifts came from a different place. I began to learn to hone in on them.
I was able to be a witness to others’ pain and suffering, without taking them on as my own.
As a result, I vowed to be of service in a new way. I had been in a career which allowed me to do that. But it was time for a new direction.
My depression was guiding me to help others who had similar experiences.
What is your depression trying to teach you?
In the book You can heal your life by Lousie Hay, she describes one of the probable metaphyscial causes of depression as:
Anger you do not feel you have a right to have. Hopelessness.
Other probable causes can be anger turned inwards or suppression of self .
So the question here becomes, what is it that your depression is trying to show you and teach you?
Mine taught me
- The importance of self-care
- and empathy for others
The affirmation for depression in You Can Heal Your Life is
I now go beyond other people’s fear and limitations.I create my life.
So my question to you is, are you ready? Do you want to get in the driver’s seat of your life so that you can CREATE YOUR BEST LIFE???
Let me know in the comments. I would love to know where you are at and how I can help you. Join my mailing list if you would like to keep up to date with new blog posts. Hope to hear from you soon.