I have fought with depression to one extent or another for most of my adult life.
I became aware that something was “wrong” with me in high school. I wanted to enjoy LIFE – I was a good student, had good friends and had planned adventures ahead! Instead I was overwhelmed with feelings of panic, fear, insecurity and self loathing. It came on intensely and suddenly – what was wrong with me? I didn’t know where it came from, so I decided the source must be from within me and I let it define me.
Life continued – I travelled, I had a few adventures, I had fun. I found love, got married and began a family. But instead of feeling joy I would often feel exhausted, overwhelmed and unable to cope. Always the question “what is WRONG with me?” I desperately wanted to feel something else. I struggled desperately with post-partum depression. I kept it hidden, I thought, hiding ME if it became to difficult to cope. After the birth of my second son, I finally sought medical help because my thoughts frightened me.
I acknowledged the issue in my life, but medication was not the right fit for me. On and off for 10-15 years I tried a selection of medications, most of which just made me feel psychotic or worse. Suicidal thoughts were not unfamiliar, (although only rare occasion brought me to the place of sharing that part of my darkness). During a period of significant stress and turmoil in my life, I engaged in that dark process. TWICE – with desperation and with intention. My belief is that God intervened and kept my feet planted firmly on this earth.
Have I experienced some difficult seasons in my life? Absolutely. But I have had a good life! There has been laughter and joy. I have loved and been greatly loved! Why then do I live with this heavy weight on my life? I feel it physically – I am exhausted and tired. I feel it emotionally – sad, flat or unresponsive to life. I feel it spiritually – what is WRONG with me, God? I want to overcome this!
I have examined it from every angle. I began to look at this as a chemical issue in my body and brain. If I was sick with the flu, I would not condemn myself for being sick. So I chose to stop condemning myself, and instead began to investigate the symptoms of imbalance in my body. I have made significant lifestyle dietary changes, which have been helpful. I make an effort to incorporate exercise and outdoor activity into my life (most of the time!) And sunlight … I crave it like water!
I have also looked inward. I have looked at my own fears and negative ways of viewing the world. I have made great effort to change my internal dialogue – I BELIEVE in ME and the gifts I have to offer the world. I am active in sharing and giving back what I have so generously received – it fills my heart to do so.
I BELIEVE in a power greater than myself. I believe in GOD, and in an abundant life that flows from an intimate responsive relationship with a loving Creator! My feet are firmly rooted in my Faith – it is life giving and sustaining. These changes have changed my life like night to day.
AND some days I am still stuck in the weight of depression. I want to feel GOOD. I get stuck in my head about this. But I have discovered that my logical mind and my brain don’t always tell me the truth. I AM NOT an unhappy person! I love adventure and exploring the world – and I love staying home, both give my joy. I love to laugh, be silly and do things just to make me smile. But I get frustrated by my low energy and physical tiredness. When I am feeling tired, I am easily overwhelmed by noise and people. I withdraw to a safe place. But the solitude is accompanied by despairing, condemning thoughts. How do I escape this cycle?
I want to be energetic and engaged with life – with JOY and laughter and peace. That is my deep desire. It is my HEARTS desire.
In my searching a question formed – what if I turned up the volume of my heart message and LISTENED to it? What if I turned down the volume of my brain-pain message? What if there was a difference between living from my heart as opposed to my head? I have discovered there is a difference.
This is how it sounds different.
My brain says – I am exhausted, tired and weary.
My heart says – Its time to rest, be quiet, be still.
My brain says – I am anxious, overwhelmed with life.
My heart says – Be still, pray – the answers will come. Be in peace.
My brain says – My life is a mess, no hope, no escape!
My heart says – Stop. This is not the end. Lets look for joy and laughter today. There is beauty to be found today.
My brain says – I hate my life – too much pain.
My heart says – Ssshhh. Stop listening to those words. Listen to your heart – I will take care of you!
Sometimes life is hard, sometimes absolutely devastatingly hard. I know this to be true. But in life, and in the midst of trials, there is also beauty and joy to be found. I also know this to be true. So, this is the lesson I have learned – I have learned to listen to my heart. It speaks a different language than my head. It frees me to live bigger and more expansively than what my circumstances dictate. My brain responds to perceptions of reality, some true and some false. But my heart responds to LIFE – and that is the key!
Have you listened to your heart today? I wonder what words it has to speak to you…
February is HEART month.
Learn a new HEART LANGUAGE this month. Join me by email for 21 days in February. I will send a HEART WORD every weekday to your inbox. Sign up here.
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Listen to the words your heart speaks – and wants you to hear.