I try to be optimistic. What many of you may not know is optimism doesn’t come easily to me. It used to be easy to be optimistic when I was younger but life has a way of beating you down,and chemical changes in your body, and pessimistic environments can add to the problem because misery loves company. I sank into the mire of the muck of life.
I think I have battled depression since the birth of my third child. That seemed to trigger something inside of me. Not only was I prone to crying and doom and gloom, I was prone to anxiety. Professionals told me it was depression brought on by chemical changes along with some things in my personal life that might be a trigger, but I didn’t listen. After all what did professionals know? And I didn’t like the way the pills they gave me made me feel. Looking back I believe if I would have believed the professionals, I would have had to look at some things in my personal life that were not working and I wasn’t ready to do that.
But I functioned, smiled on the outside, laughed, and kept on going. I can’t say I was debilitated by depression but I always felt a sadness on the inside, a numbed joy. I didn’t alway experience joy the way I felt other people did but I kept smiling on the outside. I kept telling people I loved what I was doing and I kept busy so I didn’t have to examine what I was feeling on the inside.
I raised my family with my husband. I was the ultimate volunteer. I was a good employee at jobs I claimed I loved, and life kept hopping along.
A few years ago after a couple of breaks of bones, deaths in the family and a change in our life financial circumstances I became ill. It was an actual physical illness that I could not seem to recover from–pneumonia, drugs causing a serious case of acid reflux disease and severe depression and anxiety. I could not leave my house–I did not want visitors–even my children and grandchildren and they didn’t want to be around this basket case of a person anyway.
I had a few friends that stood by me through thick and thin. They did not abandon me in my depression and anxiety and neither did my family. My daughter, who is a Pastor, was especially helpful and told me I needed time to grieve all that had happened in the ten years before. I had kept on going like an energizer bunny through everything and I hadn’t taken the time to grieve the loss of my mother, our secure financial position, a divorce in the family, a change of jobs and starting a new business I really didn’t want to start, although I didn’t admit that to anyone. I had to let my dog go who I loved deeply because it was thought he was part of the problem. My best friends had also moved. All of these life changes took me down and I didn’t want to get back up. I might also add that during the past year I had went off a low dose of medication I had started after a severely broken leg and surgery. I had been taking it to to help with the anxiety triggered by that break and months holed up in my house. I felt it was a weakness and so I tapered off and quit the medicine.
I had cried and smiled during the last ten years and I could smile no more. I had days when I felt I couldn’t go on and I know God is good because at the exact moment I was crying for help I would get a phone call from an unexpected source saying, “God just put on my heart that I needed to call you right now.” Those phone calls got me through another day and another night. I might add, although I never considered suicide, I can understand because when you are drowning in anxiety and depression you just want the pain to stop.
Little by little I found my way back, through prayer and small steps. I began to write on this blog a silly story. Each day I woke up with the next chapter in my mind. I distanced myself from things that were causing toxic feelings in my life, that made me feel less then. I found positive people to be with, meaning they had a positive outlook on life. Their glass was half full instead of half empty. I read positive stories, began a gratitude journal and a prayer journal. I read encouraging blogs and happy upbeat stories. Every day I felt a little better.
The best thing I did was reach out to the readers of my column and explain the problems I was having. One of the most difficult things during this time was trying to write an upbeat column week after week. There was no creativity inside of me and I fear it showed in the columns I wrote. Once I shared with others what I was going through the the real healing began.
I am sharing this because I know there are others out there like me. I feel my life has become about my books and silly writing and my goal is to make people people smile and laugh. I think I am doing that.
I feel by not sharing the other part of the process I am being deceitful. Sharing optimism helps me stay optimistic, but for me it is not always easy. Every day I wake up and that chemical or gloom and doom person rises to the head of my morning and I have to make a decision to find something postitive to start my day. I need something to feed me and if I don’t do that, my day is up and down or down. For me, and I imagine for many other people it is work maintaining a positive attitude.
There are some days I just can’t do it. I wallow in self-pity, gloom and doom and tears. There are some days I just have to do that. I can’t pretend it isn’t there anymore and I let myself have that time to mourn, grieve and cry. Of course this affects my health and then I usually spend another day visiting my beautiful bathroom. Sometimes those days come when I spend the week or days letting cutting words, others opinions and worry reign in my heart without acknowledging these things are bothering me. Again, I am toughing through it and smiling on the outside. But I now know when this is happening I know I need to find something positive to feed myself.
We live in a real world that is not always positive. It can take us down if we let it. I have to fight everyday to not let myself be taken down again. I have admitted and take a very small dose of an anti-anxiety drug again, I have meditations that I use and positive reinforcements on hand all the time. I love the smell of lavender as it calms me down. Each person has to find their own way through the maze of sadness that might take them down.
This morning,after one tough day this weekend, I felt I needed to share because I want others to know there is hope, but it might be work to find it, but it is worth it because living with optimism, gratitude and joy will change your life. You need to know it is fine if you can’t feel that everyday. That is my opinion only. Every person needs to find what gives them joy and go with it.
This blog is usually about my books but I think I am going to change it out a little and make the blog on my website about my books and my writing. My goal has always been to make someone’s day a little brighter and a little better but I don’t think I can do that if I am not real and own my feelings. So that’s it. I don’t know where this is going to lead but I will share my days, my ups and downs. I hope you will do the same and if this post wasn’t what you expected I apologize, but I felt it needed to be shared so if there is one person that has felt the same way I have, it will help them to know there is light waiting for them in the world.
I have this painted on my bathroom wall. It reminds me everyday to look for the crystal rain.
Have you ever read Kathleen Norris’ Acedia and Me about her depression? It’s a good book
I haven’t Andrea. I will check it out. Thank you.
As always, Julie, you hit this spot on! Thanks for sharing!
Jeanne, you always make me feel so good. Thank you.