I sincerely hesitate/am terrified to post this today only because I’ve always worked hard at only sharing “the pretty” and “the fun” with you guys — well, with people, in general really.
I’ve been a very private person my whole life and again, work overtime at only showing the ‘happy’ me (exhausting, yes). For some reason, for ME, I’ve always equated feelings of depression as a sign of weakness. And there’s nothing I dislike more than feeling weak, because I’m strong, gosh darn it!
But, this past week, I had some challenging days and the more and more time I spent with God asking for His help and what He would have me to do, I felt a push to open up with you guys about my struggle. So if it helps just one of you reading, I will consider this post a success.
Anxiety and depression…
So, I think my thoughts on feelings of depression and mental health in general, come from a lifelong history of watching close members of my family go through various mental illnesses and vowing to beat the genetic odds, so to speak.
I’m naturally an introvert. I think I worried my mom occasionally during my high school years when I would spend hours on end in my room, happy to be alone and in my own thoughts. As I’ve gotten older though and with the help of God and my amazing husband(seriously, the most confident, know-who-he-is-in-Christ man you’ll ever meet), I’ve come out of my shell and become semi-comfortable in my own skin. Ha! Baby steps.
So, while I’ve always kinda dealt with feelings of being “down” from time to time, I had pretty much always been able to just get through them after a week or so. But early last year as I was driving in the car with my mom on the interstate after shooting some blog photos, I suddenly, out of no where, began to panic behind the wheel. Like I could feel myself starting to black out and become out of control(that’s the best way I can really describe it) of my body. Kinda like I’m floating outside of my body.
You guys, it absolutely TERRIFIED me. I had NO idea what was going on. I pulled over and had to have my mom drive the rest of the way home. Once we got home I went through cold sweats and like my heart was going to bust it was pounding so hard. Don’t think me dramatic, but I thought I was dying.
Irrational, I know and yet, that’s honestly how I felt.
But after about 20 minutes, the feelings started to subside and I came back to feeling more like myself. After that I spent the next few months trying to figure out what was going on in my body to be causing this. I went to my general practitioner at the time and had her run an EKG test on my heart, that’s how scared and confused I was. Turns out my heart was fine. Only later did I come to find out I was having anxiety and panic attacks, which apparently are more common that I ever would have imagined.
I spent a year not visiting my mom, who lives two hours away, because I was petrified I was going to have another episode while driving. With some low dose medication and much daily prayer, things are SO much better now.
Here’s the deal though…even though I’ve overcome a lot of this (my anxiety attacks are nearly gone), I still have weeks where I just feel plain ‘down’ and not good enough for anything (enter last week!). Pair these feelings with style blogging where your image is close to errythang and there are thousands of successful, seemingly perfect bloggers out there, and it can get a bit overwhelming. I’ll be honest, some days I just can’t even get on social media. It brings me right back down again. BUT, at the same time, once I’m there and catching up with all of my gal pals, I suddenly feel like I’m back to the land of the living and it’s uplifting. So, I guess my problem lies with the innate dread I feel of the comparison game and less on the actual social media aspect of it. Not sure if that makes a bit of sense or not. Pretty sure what I’m dealing with here is partly a self-confidence issue, friends. When I’m having a ‘down day’, I’m way more low-key on the social media front.
Lately, in my alone time with God, I’ve been seeking more self acceptance and the ability to view myself as God views me. If you think about it, to not view yourself as “good enough” is to essentially say that God did not do a perfect job when creating you or I. We are utterly and completely perfect in His sight.
You and I are unique, friends. God’s image has been imprinted uniquely on each of us. In God’s infinite creativity there are no duplicates. You are the only you there has ever been or ever will be. I encourage you to let that really sink in. Not just let it sit on the surface, but repeat it to yourself on a daily (hourly if ya like!) basis like I’m doing until it becomes an absolute truth in your mind and heart.
I believe that’s when the breakthrough will come.
Surround yourself with friends and family who will help to reinforce that knowledge for you. Ask and God will send people into your life who encourage these thoughts and remind you that who you are is MORE than enough and perfect in His eyes. He did this for me last summer with my amazing blogger friend, Angelle. She encourages me so much to know that blogging does not define me. It’s a creative part and desire that God placed in me, but it’s not my be all end all.
I am defined by Christ, alone.
Whew, ok, that kinda took a little different direction there than I had anticipated. Kind of a anxiety/depression/self confidence bundle wrapped up into one. Ha! I’ll work on getting my thoughts a little more organized next time around. You’re getting the total ‘brainstorm sesh/thoughts on my mind’ version here today. Like I said before, if this post does nothing more than to let you know that you are not alone in having these kinds of struggles, I’ll be a happy lady.
Thanks SO much for sticking around and getting to the end of this one! I’ll see you back here tomorrow on the blog!
(Photography by Vivid Dream Photography)