Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Depression

Disclaimer: This is an extremely personal post which I wrote as a form of therapy. I made the decision to post it not because I want any type of sympathy, but because I feel it may be able to help someone who reads it. I only hope I don't regret this decision...

It is the middle of the night, but I can't sleep and this blog entry is floating around in my head. This weekend I got to go to Time Out For Women up in Orlando with some friends. It was, as always, a great spiritual experience. I received promptings for things that I didn't even know I needed. I came home feeling recharged and ready to implement the "new me" that was sure to result from the spiritual promptings I had experienced.

The next day, I was changed. The most influential talk for me was by Wendy Watson Nelson who talked about how we should ask ourselves what a holy woman would do in different situations during the day. I resolved to try it and really did feel a difference in how I reacted to various circumstances. It was great... till I neared the end of the day and I realized two things: 1) that I wasn't a holy woman and 2) that this was way too hard to keep up. So I gave up. (Incidentally, she did suggest that we ask this question about one situation during the day and not everything like I did. Much more reasonable.)

That night and for the next two days I fell. And I don't just mean that I stopped asking what a holy woman would do, I mean I sunk deep. Really deep. Deeper into a depression than I have fallen in a long time (let's just say it made sliding down the wall in the handicapped stall look fun). I cried on and off the whole time. This depression happened for a variety of personal and somewhat valid reasons, but suffice it to say, it happened. I tried to draw close to Heavenly Father in every way possible, but I still felt loneliness and despair. Not only that but I began to doubt my own worth and purpose in life. This weekend we were talking about everyone's strengths and someone jokingly said to me, "You have strengths; I can't think of any, but I'm sure you do." This started me wondering about whether I did have any worthwhile abilities as I compared my weaknesses to others' strengths. (Not a fair comparison by the way.)

This is a pretty personal topic that is hard to share, but I know it affects more people than just me. Also, this kind of stuff usually doesn't make it on the blog--like I said, I'm a little nervous about sharing this. I have never considered myself a depressed person, but I am prone to go through short periods of depression like this one. Luckily, I am usually able to cope with them and do things to pull myself out before it drags on too long.

The way I deal with these emotions has never changed since I was a child, though maybe it should. I tend to close everyone off and push people away that try to help. I want to run away and sometimes I do. But the truth is that while I do this, I really want and need people to talk to, accept me and love me. I guess I crave attention, but my personality is such that I will do anything to avoid drawing attention to myself. Bad combination?

One time when I was 10, I was feeling mad or sad or something, so I ran away on my new white 10-speed bike to the park--that would show my family, I thought. I rode around for a long time, played on all the equipment numerous times, walked around and sat on the grass until I was so bored I knew it had been an outrageously long time. A long enough time for my family to realize how they had mistreated me, feel terrible and send out a search party. So I rode home. To my utter disappointment, nobody said a word to me when I walked in the door. They never even knew that I was gone! My point is that this method doesn't actually work.

As an adult, I take the car. But I still fall into the same trap of wanting to escape or give people the silent treatment, even though I need people. I usually go down my list of good friends and family members but I never call anyone because I don't want to drag anyone else down. Amazingly, in the middle of a lonely and teary moment, my friend called me at almost 10 pm last night even though I just spent the whole weekend with her, and that helped a little... until Jared got home from racquetball. Poor Jared that has to live with me. He tried to talk to me over and over again, but I resisted. I even avoided eye contact for two days! (I'm making myself out to be a great wife, I know. Sorry guys, I'm taken.) I really felt that I had good reason to take it out on him in this way. I was stubborn and depressed and I wouldn't soften my heart, even though everything inside me was screaming "YOU NEED HIM!"

Tonight I did leave for a while until I got bored and cold just sitting there in an empty parking lot. After being home for a while Jared made another attempt to talk to me and though it was hard, I finally opened up and talked to him. More tears were shed as we talked about the reasons for my feelings. But it ended up being one of the best conversations I have had with him or anyone in a long time. I realized so many things. One is that I don't want to go through the hard times without Jared. So why do I push him away during those times? We both feel so much more strength when we are united (and are willing to look each other in the eye). He also pointed out some of my strengths that I hadn't been seeing. Why do we compare ourselves with others and beat ourselves up for not being like them, instead of realizing our own talents?

I also realized that I was desperately wanting and needing to feel spiritual promptings, but I simply couldn't because my heart was too hard. The opposite of hope is despair, and I wasn't willing to (or at least I couldn't at the time) let go of my misery. It wasn't until I softened my heart and let Jared help me before I began feeling the spirit again, and ultimately the happiness that I had lost. I feel so much better after letting Jared in during such a dark time and am thankful for his persistence and love for such an emotional wife.

There is a chance that you will think less of me for writing this, or perhaps confirm any previous doubts you may have had about my sanity, but I guess that is the risk I am taking. (gulp!)

8 comments:

Heather said...

I don't think less of you one bit... I think MORE of you!!! Mostly I think you are sooooo normal. At least as normal as I am. :) I've realized after this last baby that hormones are sooo huge and affect so many things... emotions, sleeping habits, mood, ability to deal with normal life stuff.... at least for me.

One of my friends wrote a great post about her depression. Thought you might be interested. http://toddnjenifermoss.blogspot.com/2009/10/under-construction-cont.html

Isn't life so different than we used to think it would be? Yes, indeed. Good... but different somehow.

And just so ya know... I've gotten in the car to run away for a few hours.... only I never know where to go. It's not like I have money to go shopping. I live in the country. So sometimes to the mountains I go to breathe and relax and be alone for a while.

Good luck! We love you!

Heather said...

oh - and the Wendy Watson talk info was interesting. That is a great idea to try. Though I don't think I was a very holy woman when I yelled at my kids after fhe the other night. Oops... i better work on that one! I love inspiring talks like those that somehow give me hope that I can keep going. anyways... i've said enough. :)

HeatherWasHere said...

First of all, I love you. Second of all, I'm gonna need a bigger window. I'm emailing you...

James and Tricia Thomas said...

You know most of us have been there in one form or another! I always just think that these times are the refiners fire. Thank you for sharing it really helps to know that I am not the only one who struggles!

Coralee said...

Laura,
I admire you for making that post. I totally can relate to your experience, and I think many/most women can. Thank you for sharing your struggles and feelings. It made me cry and recognize the same things I do when I'm down/depressed. I need to remember to soften my heart and reach out/allow people to help me as well.

Mrs. Potts said...

Hey, I just ran across something on a blog that reminded me of your post.

http://meetthepassionista.blogspot.com/2010/03/burdens.html

Tyson and Stephanie said...

Laura, I'm glad you are so real and honest. You don't have to share such personal stories, but it does help the rest of us to read and understand that we all go through tough times and that is part of life and it is ok. No one is perfect (although you have always been pretty high up on that list in my eye). I've looked up to you since we met, and certainly your post doesn't change that at all. I'm glad Jared is there for you. What a great guy! I hope you are feeling better!

Heidi McLeod said...

Thank you for sharing. You are right- it did help someone! I have no clue why (actually I do...b/c I am overtired from staying up too late the last few nights), but I woke up feeling crummy this morning. Your post def. helped turn my day around so thanks! :)