Sunday, December 11, 2016

My One Self

I listened to a Ted Radio Hour podcast (titled Headspace) the other day and a few things Andrew Soloman said intrigued me-mostly because I could certainly relate.

"The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality."

"Depression is something that is braided so deep into us that there is no separating it from our character and personality."

"There's no sharp line between personality and illness. There's not a self that is the undepressed self that is more real than the depressed self. There's only ourselves." 

I have felt like two different people for a very long time. In fact, when I'm depressed I feel like a totally different person. And when the fog lifts I feel like I've been in a daze, like I've checked out for the last two weeks. What I do remember is fuzzy and I am certainly not proud of how I acted as a wife or mother.

If I say that I don't want my depression to be an excuse for my behavior, I can't just 'space out' for weeks at a time and blame Depressed Abby for the chaos, fallout, and sometimes hurt feelings that are left in her wake. It's easier to say I did it because I was depressed. It's easier to have a scapegoat.

The truth is that I am a busy woman with depression. I have many roles: wife, mother, friend, worker. I don't want to split myself in two anymore. I need to embrace who I am at all stages of my depression--on both good and dark days. And honestly, I think owning it will help.

On bright, beautiful days I know that I am a daughter of the King. I know that I am doing my best to be a respectful and loving wife and mother. I am a giving and caring friend, and a hard worker. I lose those truths on dark days. I forget that I'm still a daughter of the King when it's hard to get out of bed and get dressed. I believe the lie that I'm a terrible wife on the days I cry to my husband and then rest on the couch while he graciously loves on me by feeding and caring for our kids. I feel like a flake when I cancel on my friends, when I can't be social, or am slow at work.

Writing this on a bright day makes aligning these two people seem easy. But it's going to take work to remember I am the same person next time I have a dark day, week, or month. When you move so far from one end of the spectrum to the other, it's hard to remember you're the same person. Depression has a way of stealing your future and your hope. It's the most debilitating part.

I need to claim the same truths on bright days and dark days. I need to write them down, commit them to my memory and my heart, ask others to remind me, and tell them to myself. Next time I'm crying over failure, fear, and exhaustion I will remember:

God loved me so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for my sins and save my life.

My husband showing love to me is not a burden or an inconvience.

Brady and Nola were gifted to me by God because I am ALWAYS the best mother for them.

Claiming those truths won't suddenly make my dark day bright, but it will help me remember who I am. I want to be myself regardless of how my depression makes me feel on a particular day. I don't want to run from my depression anymore. It is as much a part of me as my stubbornness, my joy of sunshine, my love of cooking, and everything else that makes me who I am.

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