So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key ~ The Eagles, Already Gone
If you had told me that I had the key to getting better when everything first crashed down around me I would have been really angry at you.
I spent all my time and all my energy trying to feel better/figure out what was wrong with me before I basically collapsed. I was sure that if I had the key, I would have KNOWN and I would have USED it.
Want to know what the key is?
It is this: Never, never give up. Keep fighting. And don't fight alone.
No man is an island.
One of the mistakes I made at the beginning of my journey is this: I didn't tell my husband about my struggles until I was almost swallowed by them. I talked to one of my friends a lot. I threw out theories as to why I was feeling so badly. I was desperately trying to figure out why I was falling apart. None of the reasons I examined was the real reason.
It never occurred to me that I could be dealing with mental illness. I really believed that mental illness was for other people: people who had been abused or had done drugs or had an obviously mental ill relative. I fit into none of those categories. It wasn't until I was in treatment that I found out that in my family tree were people who had struggled with mental illness, too. It's not something people like to talk about. Most people will hide it if they can.
In retrospect, pouring out my heart to this friend was not the best route to go because I overwhelmed her with my angst. What I really needed was somebody to recognize that what was going on was bigger than me and it was bigger than my friend.
My husband was the one who recognized that what was happening to me was bigger than me and it was bigger than him. This wasn't just a problem we could talk about and resolve.
So let's take a moment and talk about assembling a team to help you.
1. Tell the people who love you the most.
2. Go to the doctor. Even if you don't want to; especially if you don't want to go.
3. Understand that a good therapist is worth their weight in gold
4. Find a support group; there are online support groups. Google your diagnosis or what you think it is.
5. There are also "in real life" support groups. Contact NAMI or look into Celebrate Recovery.
6. Think about the people in your life that you can call. When I first started reaching out to people we very seldom discussed my breakdown. I didn't know how to talk about my problems and they didn't know how to talk about them so we'd talk about whatever: the weather, community events, mutual friends, our kids, etc. This was extremely helpful because it just got my brain off of the negative stuff. SO HELPFUL. Don't underestimate the power of distraction. If you do have friends who have gone through depression or some other mental illness they'll understand why you're calling and be willing to talk about meds and such without getting "freaked out" about the topic. Also helpful. :)
7. God. I saved "the best" for last because there is so much to say about seeking God when you are in a "bad" place . . .I want you to understand that if you can't "feel" God, you are not alone. Please don't give up on trying to reach Him. Keep going to church, keep reading His Word, pray the best you can.
Many, many people have been in a place where they wonder about God and why He has allowed them to be in such a dark place. But it doesn't mean that He isn't there. I think that the author of Footprints in the Sand captured what we all tend to feel perfectly.
Foot Prints in the Sand
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.