Early in my motherhood years, when things were still pretty simple and pretty good, a close friend of mine struggled greatly with depression. It took me a while to even recognize it because many of her symptoms, from the outside, I considered to be positives: she lost weight, her home was immaculate. How could that possibly mean she was having a hard time? When I’m struggling I eat like crazy and don’t do an ounce of housework. One day I finally said something about how ashamed I was that she had it all together with her three children and I just couldn’t keep up with my two much-littler ones. What I didn’t quite realize was that to her a clean home meant she wasn’t spending much time with her children, and when she looked around and saw her clean home, she didn’t feel uplifted or free, she felt sorry she had spent her time doing that instead of spending her time with her children.
She did recover from her depression, but she was never the same afterwards. Even though the depression lifted, some melancholy stayed. I knew that in the many years ahead I’d have my share of depression, and I vowed to not let depression leave its indelible mark on me. I would not let it change me forever.
It wasn’t long before I hit my own dark times, and I have had many episodes since. That’s life, really. I don’t know when I finally released myself of my vow to not let depression change me, but I’m glad I did.
I was correct in not wanting to the that damaged girl with the dark cloud, the world doesn’t need another scarred victim and my life is certainly not that bad. Somewhere along my path of healing, as I turned inward to those things of great comfort, I discovered that I didn’t want to be the same person I was before, I wanted to be better, stronger, and with a clearer sense of self. I didn’t want to recover, I wanted to heal.
So I did. It sounds overly simplistic to say it like that, like it was some decision I had to make, but I can’t describe it any other way. It wasn’t that as soon as I decided to heal I was healed, I had to let the emotions have their way, but I had made a way for them to leave me, and for me to let go of those emotions. I had decided to not let them linger longer than was needful, I gave them no home within me. I had to lower my expectations of self for a while, and cut myself a lot of slack. But I had decided that I would not let these periods of sadness define me, and in doing so I found the light I needed to rise up again.
I was lucky that each time I was able to do it on my own, without the need for medical intervention, and that not everyone has it so easy.
Recovery didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. And because it happened I’ve been able to do it again, and again. When the sadness strikes, when afflictions attack, I know I’ll be okay again. I know that I can be whole again.
Will I be the same after this? No! I’ll be better.
With this knowledge I’m able to conquer anything.