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It has been a while! Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been a little quiet on the blog through the summer and fall. (Maybe you haven’t! Ha! I’m not offended.) All the emails and messages from those who have worried about me have been amazing little bursts of happiness.
Though I don’t openly talk about my walk with depression, I have talked about depression on the blog and many of you have guessed about my struggle. Depression and Your Messy House is one of the most read blog pieces I’ve ever written, so I know I’m not alone.
I had an amazing therapist a few years ago who told me that it would be better for me if I just talked openly about what I go through, but I’m a private person and it has been difficult to convince myself to open up. I worry about being judged or misunderstood, and mostly I worry that no one really wants to hear about it. I figure people come to my blog for my homemaking tips, so who cares that I discover most of my tips on bad days. Any time I can find a way to make my life easier (usually by organizing or time management), it makes it easier for me to survive the really bad days of depression.
So much of my life behind the scenes of this blog has been ruled by depression. It is equally uncomfortable and freeing just to write that for you to read. Honestly, the biggest reason we got a dog was so we could train her to be a comfort and service animal.
I am actually a very cheerful and happy person, I don’t fake that to my friends, family, or readers. You may wonder how I can be a cheerful person who is depressed? Depression isn’t my personality, depression is a chemical condition that is complicated. You can have a wonderful life, feel very blessed, and also be super depressed.
Stress seems to make my depression go into overdrive, which is what happened this year. Moving and trying to get my family settled into our new life here has been all-consuming, and even though we are so happy here, stress is stress is stress. And stress does TWO major things to me: gives me shingles and makes my depression worse.
What does depression look like for me? Some days I can’t get out of bed until my kids are about to come home from school, then I get dressed really quick and act like a mom until bedtime. I think about blogging, and make plans to do it, but then I run out of energy to actually do it. Because it is on short supply, *all* of my available energy goes to my kids. Anything I can muster, it goes to them. I can hide my struggle in plain sight, because on the surface it isn’t obvious I have depression. I still take my kids places, do activities with them at home, help with homework, support their sports and clubs, and make them dinner.
Some days are harder than others to push myself through the motions, but if I have anything to give, I give it to my kids. I think this is important for them, but sometimes it complicates my recovery, because I’m not giving as much of my energy to self-care things that could help me feel better. It is hard to strike the right balance.
What I’m Trying to Do
My husband and I have made some strategic decisions to help me and I’m starting to feel almost normal again in the last couple of weeks.
- When we moved here, we made it a priority to find good doctors to help. I’m trying a new med and it is helping more than anything I’ve tried before. I also went to a specialist and learned my hormones are very unbalanced, so I’ve been taking something for that too which is really helping (and my skin looks better than it has in a long time!) I haven’t worked up the courage to find a new therapist yet, but that is in the plans.
- We downsized houses on purpose. I like feeling in control of my house and our last house was just so big – it took a lot of extra time to do regular cleaning and chores and was just more to manage. We love our new home – all one level with the rooms we wanted, in such a friendly neighborhood. Even though I’m not even finished organizing and decorating it, it is already easier to maintain!!
- I’m making new friends. Even though I usually want to just stay home when I feel depressed, I’ve been making a real effort to get out and make friends in our new town. It helps that I pretty much fell into the friendliest place on the planet, but I already have friends here!
- We take things one day at a time. Instead of stressing and living by arbitrary deadlines, we’ve been taking life one day at a time and doing our best every day. I know that sounds obvious to some of you, but some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. For example, we didn’t decorate for Christmas until this past weekend. Not carrying the weight of “being behind because of depression” feels good. It is still hard sometimes because I am a planner by nature, but I’m learning to be flexible and give myself grace.
- We got a dog! I am no longer EVER alone in my house. I literally keep my dog with me all day long while the kids are at school. (Either by closing doors or leashing her to myself. She goes in a crate when I run errands.) After school, I let her loose to play with the kids a while, and then when they are done giving her a ton of attention, she comes back to me. I’m so excited to take her for walks, but we are waiting until her puppy vaccines are finished. Her last shot is the week after Christmas, so soon.
- I sleep when I can. This may sound obvious too, but insomnia is one of my symptoms of depression, so this can be tough. The new meds and lifestyle changes have been helping this area too. Matt often lets me get a little extra sleeping in time on the weekends if schedules permit.
Now that I’m starting to feel much better, I’m coming back to the blog. I may be a bit behind preparing for the Declutter Challenge, but I am preparing the new Declutter Pack right now! More on that soon!!
I’m nervous about actually publishing this blog post. This is way outside of my comfort zone, but here I go …