I debated writing this post. I realized, however, many are going through challenging times, and could use an encouraging word. So here it is…
For a little over a year, I was dealing with depression. Now, usually a person would say they were battling depression, but not my case. There was no battle. I was not battling it. I was living with it and had learned to function with it. I was THE enabler and the user. When a person says they are depressed or dealing with depression, you immediately think of someone in all black, in a dark room, crying their life away, ready to end it at any moment. Again, that wasn’t me. I never wanted to harm myself or anyone else. I didn’t just sit in a dark room and cry my days away either. I went to work, was the wife and the mother, business as usual. I learned how to live my life while functioning with this constant unhappy feeling like a cloud of gloom was hovering over me.
What brought the gloom?
Well, I went through a season of life’s challenges. Seems like when one thing ended, something else would be waiting in line to pick up the baton. Kinda like if you got your car fixed, and somebody came along and totaled it as you were leaving the repair shop. You hated that car anyway cus it always cost you money, but now you have no car. Soo you get another car, and what do you know, that car gets stolen. So you get another car. Everything is good for 5 months and then a storm drops a tree on your car. Just an example, but you get what I mean right.
On the surface, it felt like a marathon of misfortune that I kept coming in first place for. I focused on the “now” of my situation. But behind the scenes, things were working and shifting and moving. I knew things would work out. I didn’t know when, and I hung on. With Hope and Faith. Well those days of waiting for resolution, turned to months, and months into a year. My good girlfriend Hope jumped ship around the 6 month mark, and I had to bunker down with my trusted bestie Faith.
Looking back over that year, I spent a lot of time wallowing in the jacked up, uncertain “now” of my situation.
When Maxine Waters “I’m reclaiming my time” went viral. I immediately wanted to shout it out loud… To that year of life I just floated through… “I’m reclaiming my time!”
To the gray cloud that hovered over me… “I’m reclaiming my time!”
For all of those hours of worry, I let gnaw at me… “I’m reclaiming my time!”
That season wasn’t the first time I hit a bump in the road, and it isn’t the last time I’ll face the challenges of life. But going forward, I’m prepared. I’m claiming my time in advance.
Here are a few tips we all can use to cope through challenging times:
1. Find someone to talk to. For a long time, I didn’t want to talk about my circumstances. It was my burden to bear. You may see your friends and family going through things and don’t want to add your problems to their list OR you see them going through good times and don’t want to bring gloom to the party. Nah-uh. Find someone to talk to. Find a few people if you need to. Don’t let it build up and then unload a fireball. Keep someone in the loop, even if nothing has changed. Talking it out, keeps it from building up inside. Folks know you’re human and experience things. Talk to somebody. Truly thankful for those who at times had to force me to talk about it, and for those who just listened when I needed an ear.
2. No sulking. During this period, I didn’t want to do anything. I stayed very close to home. My home, my family were like my security blanket. I didn’t want to commit to any birthday gatherings or social functions. If you invited me, the answer was no. And why? They didn’t get me in this situation. Life did. Force yourself to leave that cloud at home. When you have kids that are watching your every move, you have to be the example for them to see when faced with adversity. I’d be lying if I said I never cried in front of my children. I’m human. But I’m also aware that they wouldn’t understand what’s behind the tears. And as much as I would love to wrap them in my arms and cry it out, I have to protect their innocence from the adult realities of the world. Hello closet. Hello floor. We will become acquainted if need be.
3. Find something positive to focus on. A lot of energy is wasted being gloomy. You don’t know how long 24 hours really feels until your in an unhappy space. 24 hours feels like 24 days. Shift that energy into a positive output. Find a hobby, master a specialty, pray, exercise… obsess over positivity. I used writing as my outlet. It sparked some hot articles on the site. (Shameless plug)
4. Be considerate of others. Don’t be that person that everyone can tell from a mile away if they’re having a bad day. Some days are tougher than others, but everyone deserves courtesy and respect. Not just strangers, but your coworkers, your loved ones, your children. Be open, “hey today’s not a good day for me, let’s revisit tomorrow.” If you MUST give someone a verbal lashing, text yourself. Leave yourself a voice note. GET IT ALL out.
5. Know that you’re not alone. If you did a poll from people you know that feel like they have a cloud over them, you would be surprised at the numbers. It’s life, and everyone suffers and deals with things differently. Your not exclusive to difficult times or situations. And you’re not alone. I had several conversations with friends about how they cope while being in depressing situation. Talking with others will show you that, contrary to social media pictures, people are human and can relate to and have experienced real life situations.
6. Faith. My homegirl Faith rode through this storm with me. I’m not gonna debate religion or theology in this point. But speaking for myself, I know God was with me. As I said in the beginning, I never felt like the marathon was THE end. I knew it would resolve, just not when it would. Even when months and months continued to pass by, I still had faith. And held on. Use this time to connect with God. Read the word. Pray.
7. Disconnect from social media. Some days, social media can provide relief via hot topics, memes, and inspirational quotes. Some days, social media can exacerbate an already jacked up mood. If scrolling and reading, makes you feel a certain type of way, log off and come back later. Take 2 or 3 days off, if you need to.deactivate. Reactivate. Rinse. Repeat.
8. Know when to seek professional help. Depression is not something you want to rely on a home remedy for. Sometimes new situations, open old unresolved wounds. If you are struggling and have contemplated harming yourself or others, seek professional help ASAP. If you are dealing with grief or another traumatic event, talk to a professional counselor. Therapists go through years of training to be a resource to those in need. There are prescriptions for those who need help balancing their emotions. No one is judging you.
I hope this helps someone, if nothing more than to encourage you and remind you this “this too shall pass” and you are not alone. We only get one chance to live this thing called life, there will be highs and lows, upsets and joyous occasions. Invest your time living.
Please share below ways you have pushed through a difficult time.
Encourage someone else.