This past year I struggled with a bout of depression. It feels so dramatic to say that. I feel like I had a cold, but I am going around saying, “I overcame a very intense respiratory virus.”
Yeah, lady. It’s called a cold. We’ve all had ’em.
But drama or no drama, severe or not severe, cold or respiratory virus, it is what it is. I struggled with depression after all the changes my family experienced during our move. I spoke with my minister during that period and she, very appropriately, called depression a season. I wholeheartedly agree with that comparison. Depression is a season. But I think I can be even more specific: Depression is like hurricane season.
Hurricane season has a definite start and end, just like my depression did. And during hurricane season, you aren’t constantly battling hurricanes every day, but you are very aware of a disturbance in the Gulf. A presence of a force that might become a hurricane. And that constant awareness that just under the surface of myself there lurked total devastation was exhausting in itself. I felt like a ticking time bomb waiting to break down. And then, of course, there are the days when the hurricane does come ashore and everything is flooded with tears. On those days, there is almost a relief. Just like living on the coast, you are constantly worried of what the weather might bring and so when the storm finally does come, there’s almost a little bit of relief that it has come, it has destroyed, and now you can begin to move on. Waiting is a hard thing, emotionally and meteorologically.
When my season of depression finally ended, I was so thankful. That state of, “Will I keep it together today or won’t I?” is exhausting and I was glad to put that behind me. About the time I started to feel better, I went out on maternity leave and had Gracie Girl. As stressful as that might sound to some people, this has actually been a really calm time for me. I’m not working, so there’s no stress there. Chris is handling our finances (one of the changes we made to deal with my depression), so that’s not stressful. The kids are happy, we’re all healthy (and insured!), and everyone is getting along. Not too much to be stressed about. Because everything has been smooth sailing, Chris and I have decided to start house hunting and after a very quick search, we’ve decided to make an offer on the house today. Fun stuff, right? I’m super excited.
So then why am I suddenly worried? Why am I awake in the middle of the night again? Why is my heart beating like it wants out of my chest now?
I’ll tell you why. Because if depression is like hurricane season, then anxiety is like a summer storm. Here in Florida, we get summer storms every day, like clockwork. Around 4:00 every day, the sky darkens and the wind blows and the rain pours as if Noah’s going to float by in his ark any minute. And then, as quick as it happened, the storm is over and the sun is shining. That is what anxiety is like. Unlike depression which comes in distinct seasons of your life and then goes away, anxiety is just part of my daily weather pattern. Most of the time, I can keep it in check with a prayer or a few deep breathes. I think it’s probably very normal as to what other people experience. But then sometimes, when things are a little more stressful, I don’t seem to be able to handle it at all. And it is so hard to explain why because I understand what it is and I know that I am being irrational. But the anxiety is still so very, very crippling.
It’s like this:
Imagine you are standing at your kitchen window watching a summer storm rain down on your front yard. You notice your car is parked in the driveway and then you realize that you left your driver side window down. In all this rain, the inside of your car is getting soaked. You know what you need to do. You know this is a relatively simple problem and solution. You just need to get your keys, run outside, and roll the windows up. All very easy steps. Only, you can’t seem to be able to move your feet. You want to go look for your keys so you can fix the simple problem, but you can’t seem to get your feet to move no matter how much you try. So, you end up standing there, like an idiot, staring at the problem, knowing how to solve it, but unable to do anything.
That is anxiety to me. It freezes me in my tracks, renders me useless, and then is spiteful and still makes me stare at the simple problem and feel guilty about the fact that I can’t get my damn feet to move. It is beyond frustrating.
Last night, I got up to feed Gracie in the middle of the night and when I tried to go back to sleep afterwards, I couldn’t. My mind reeled with all that was going on – could we afford this? Were we sure this was the house? What if something went wrong? Finally, I sat very still and took a deep breath and when I did, a simple Bible verse came to me, “Be still and know that I am God.” Then I proceeded to hear God saying the following things to me:
“Be still, Katie, and know that I am God.”
“I said be still, Katie.”
“Don’t make me come back there, Katie. Be STILL! I am GOD! It’s under control!”
“DANG IT, KATIE! LAY DOWN AND CHILL OUT! I’M TAKING CARE OF THIS!”
So, I laid back down and every time a thought came into my head, I would push it out by saying over and over again, “Be still and know that I am God,” and somehow that peace helped me sleep.
Now, I’m not one of those believers who thinks that God’s peace will solve all my worldly problems. I know God’s hand is in everything, but that doesn’t mean those stresses are simply eliminated from my life. He doesn’t take all that away, He just goes through it with me. And that’s why I’m thinking about seeing a therapist. Going through that season of depression taught me how to ask for help and dealing with these summer storms of anxiety has taught me that even though I might know the solution to a problem, I still might need some help figuring out how to unglue my feet. I’ve been praying about the therapist thing, too. And my prayers have kind of sounded like this:
Dear God, thank you for giving me a powerful mind. In fact, you’ve given me such a complex mind that I think it’s time I get a professional in here who knows how to use it properly because, clearly, I don’t. So, if it’s okay with you, could you put someone in my life that you and I can trust together to fiddle around with that wonderfully complex mind that you’ve given me? Also? If this person was covered by my medical benefits plans, I’d really appreciate it. And now, I am going to be still and know that you are God of all things, even my anxiety. Say hi to the J-Man for me.
Depression and anxiety can be such downers. Literally. They just bring you down. They make you feel like you’re too stupid or lazy or insignificant to handle your own situations. And prayer is such a powerful high for me. Literally. It lifts me up. But I think there needs to be a middle ground between that incredible low and that incredible high. That’s why I think it’s time I talked with someone somewhere in the middle about how to get my feet unstuck so I can run out there and roll up my stupid windows during a rainstorm.