This morning I felt my energy returning. I finally got back to the gym for my 30 minute morning workout! It felt amazing! My depression is starting to lift and I have to hold myself back from sprinting forward in excitement! One step at a time, Becky.
I have learned that even when I am trying to live in a healthy way and faithfully taking medication to help keep me stable, depression and anxiety can pop up without warning and knock me off track. I am trying to learn how to roll with it and how to slow down when I feel myself slipping. I have had to learn to be flexible! Because I have a mood disorder, I have to pay careful attention to my mental/emotional state and make adjustments as necessary. If I feel overly stressed, anxious, or tired, I need to pay attention! I need to respond to what my body is trying to tell me. If I don’t, things just get worse. Really, it’s no different than noticing that you are coming down with a cold and taking a few “sick days” until you are up and running again. You could call it a “mental health day” but I kind of hate the distinction. Mental illness is an illness that affects you mentally, emotionally, and yes, physically. Depression sucks the energy right out of you! A sick day is a sick day, whether it is due to a “mental” or “physical” illness. Mental health and physical health are closely intertwined!
A year or so ago, I came up with the term “grace day” to give myself permission to slow down and take care of myself when I’m struggling. I say to myself, “It’s a grace day/week! It’s ok that I’m not accomplishing as much! I’m sick! No expectations. No judgment.” Instead of beating myself up for feeling depressed and for struggling so much, I take a sick day (or week, or month!). It’s harder when you’re a mom with young kids at home, but I have learned that I need to take care of me! On my “grace days”, I slow down, simplify, and try to focus on the basics. I depend more on my spouse. I also reach out to close friends and family and ask for help. I clear my calendar of anything that doesn’t need to happen that week. This week, I rescheduled my kids dentist appointments and made an appointment with my counselor instead. It was what I needed to do! I think we all need “grace days”–days when we slow down and rely on help and forgive ourselves for being weak.
Maria Grace is my third baby. I chose her middle name, not knowing that the year following her birth would be a rough one and I would need to rely a lot on God’s grace! Grace is a gift from God. It is “divine aid” that He sends to us in our time of need. He gives us strength when we are weak. He sends His mercy and unconditional love and hope to us when we struggle. He does not abandon us or leave us alone! I need His grace every day. My mental illness reminds me of that. It reminds me to depend on God and others when I feel weak. He makes me strong!
After yet another battle with anxiety and depression, I know that I can pick myself up and move forward. I know that I can get back up and start again, because I have in the past. I can do this! I also know that I have people in my life who love me and “have my back”. I am not alone and I can rely on others when I need help. This knowledge is empowering and it gives me hope! It helps me to see that I am healing and making progress, even if I continue to stumble. “Animo!” (Look it up, it’s my favorite Spanish word!)