I’ve been prone to depressive episodes for as long as I can remember. As a kid, graduating to the next level of swim lessons, family visits ending, being gifted my first bra from my mom—all sent me into a tailspin of emotions. Blame it on my big Scorpio feelings, but man, emotions have always run amuck in my life.
As an adult, I’ve attempted to strengthen my logic and use it to filter and support my naturally, shall we say, overwhelming feelings. My success is spotty, but here’s what has recently worked for me when I find myself in the pits of depressive despair.
I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I long for the village life of yesteryear. While I’m not necessarily a people person, I occasionally need more than my mom, husband, three-year-old, and Doordash delivery man (leave the food and run, man). I have joined bible studies off and on throughout my life with varying degrees of success and longevity. I can’t tell you that I have found soul sisters or lifelong friends, but I have found comrades with whom I can weather life’s storms. Women who are incredibly supportive, accepting, consistent, and loving.
Exercise is great when it’s over—kidding, kind of. Post-workout, I’m a new woman with a new lease on life. Fun fact, I’m in the middle of a high-risk pregnancy, so my workouts are more like strolls around the neighborhood streets. My watch tells me I’ve burnt 38 calories, and it’s a real humbling blow. Moseying around mottled sidewalks is not nearly as fulfilling as a run in the woods or a 6 am workout class, but it is a gift. The outdoors and the movement have an incredible power to recalibrate my wary spirit and balance my emotional scale.
Now back to this stay-at-home-mom thing. I firmly believe that no matter how you mom, it’s a beautiful but rough gig. I find myself lost in the laundry, wiping down kitchen counters, straightening toy rooms, and running a kid to lessons and playdates. These tasks—the hallmarks of parenting young kids—keep me busy and keep idle thoughts at bay. However, come nap time, I’m alone with myself and feelings of unfulfillment. Here’s what I did about it—made a list of long-term goals. My list includes things like publishing a book, paying for my children’s college, living on a (mini) farm, providing for my aging parents, and having a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Once I highlighted my overarching life goals, I broke it down to daily steps to achieve those goals—i.e., exercise, write 500 words a day, savings and budgets, join a bible study, etc. These tangible steps keep my sense of self at the forefront in my daily life and enable me to combat feelings of overwhelm and despair head-on.
Talk the talk
The turning point for me in most depressive episodes is when I finally confess to someone closest to me that I’m not doing well. In those moments of mascara tears (Who am I kidding–depressive episode? Makeup was one of the first things to go), I have found a foothold to turn and begin to climb my way up and out. Throughout my entire life, my parents, my sister, my husband, have all been incredibly supportive when I’ve finally told them I’m in a dark, reclusive place. Most recently, I crumbled in my husband’s arms as we were moving his office one weekend. I blubbered on about feeling depressed and lonely, confessing that sometimes every day felt hard. He hugged me, looked intensely uncomfortable, and told me that a co-worker was right next door and likely heard my tearful confession. Oops. But we left and got pizza, and I began my upward ascent with his support.
I hate conflict. It festers inside of me, eats at my peace-loving soul, and I tend to retreat inward—far inward. Once I confessed to my husband that I wasn’t doing well, and he fed me pizza slices from a safe distance, together we identified a significant factor that seemed to unbalance and interfere with our life consistently—in-laws (ominous music plays). Therapy has provided a place for us to connect, strengthen our team bond, and work on conflict resolution skills and boundary setting when it comes to our respective families of origin.
I am learning that all emotions are good emotions, but as a feeler, some emotions tend to take the reins of my life and run me into a ditch. If you find yourself ‘in your feelings’ all day, every day like yours truly, maybe this list helps.
If you are ruled by logic and reason, bless you. Share your secrets with the rest of us.