Depression sucks. It sucks because the way it affects you can change throughout time and circumstances. It's a moving target. I recently felt my depression hit me harder than it has in a very long time and it taught me a valuable lesson about self-care.
I have been dealing with mental illness for about ten years, and the past few years I have been feeling pretty well. I take my medication, I started going to therapy, I got more involved in some hobbies and made new friends. All of these steps became a part of my self-care routine and gave me the support that I needed to live a happy life despite this chemical imbalance.
But I slowly started neglecting some of the things that had helped me get to feel so stable. I got busier and kept adding more to my plate. I thought I was managing really well.
Then we moved.
I knew it would be stressful to "start over" again. I expected it. And things have actually been better than I expected, for which I am grateful. But there are some things that have been challenging, and a lot of it relates to my kids: the transition of starting at a new school, excessive picky eating that impacts every single meal (which I thought I had been resolved with getting a tongue tie fixed), and my kids constantly asking me to be involved with more activities (they don’t really have extracurriculars right now).
That pressure has been building and building for months. Finding new doctors and providers. Getting second opinions on my son’s eating problem and feeling torn on how to proceed. New insurance. Husband’s new job with him traveling a lot. A new house that has been project after project. Everything costing a million dollars. Allergies and difficulty sleeping. Kids constantly fighting and complaining. Me feeling like my head is barely above water, all the time. And of course, I hadn't found a new counselor yet because that always seemed to be the least important thing on my list.
I hit my breaking point a few weeks ago, and it was not pretty.
The week prior I could tell something was "off." I felt sad (for no reason), unmotivated, and extremely stressed out. I thought it would pass after a good night's sleep, like it usually does when this happens every so often.
But it didn't go away. It seemed to slowly get worse, until things came to a head one day and I just lost it. I had to admit to myself that I wasn't handling things as well as I thought I was. That I needed to reevaluate the way I've been doing things and my treatment, which has basically been on autopilot for the last few years.
So out of necessity I made a call to a new counselor and got in right away thanks to a cancellation. Making appointments by phone is one of my most hated tasks of all time, but I did it.
I‘m feeling hopeful after meeting with the counselor and we have some action steps for me to take this week. Mainly I need to find and make an appointment with a psychiatrist to adjust my meds, since my doctor in our former city was still refilling my prescriptions. I have been on the same meds and dosages for four years, so there is a good chance my body might need something different. Which honestly scares me a little because adjustment either means new side effects or withdrawal effects in the meantime.
I guess it goes to that even if we feel well for a while, those of us with clinical depression are never really free from it. Depression is not “cured” with medicine. It is still there, which means adjustments to treatment will be needed from time to time. Even though I logically know this, it still sucks experiencing it.
So I’m going to focus on taking better care of myself. For me that means exercise, seeing a psychiatrist, going to therapy, journaling, and making time for things that I enjoy. I haven’t been doing these things, and I paid the price.
Self-care is a big buzzword these days, but it really is important. And it doesn’t look the same for everyone. Make that appointment. Carve out time for a hobby. Sign up for the thing. Sleep. Shower. Eat foods that are nourishing but also YUMMY.
If you don’t make time for yourself, your body will force you to do it. Take it from me, I am learning the hard way.
If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. I’m here too, right in the middle of it. And I’m holding onto the hope that things WILL get better for all of us.
What do you like to do for your self-care or to support your mental health?
This piece was originally published on the author's Facebook page, Driving Mom Crazy.