Happy Friday, my lovelies! What a week! I finished Amy Purdy's book "On My Own Two Feet" and it was incredibly well-written and inspiring. I couldn't put it down. I am not a reader. I get frustrated with not being able to see the book in my cave-dark bedroom (old lady eyes), but I have read more since I got my iPad mini because it has a back light...it's the simple joys of technology. This book though, I purchased in "real book" form because I knew I would want to highlight and mark pages and I was right. As I was reading the final few chapters and especially the epilogue I was moved to share some things with all of you that I haven't shared in depth up to this point.
The quote above was from one of the final chapters. After reading Amy's story of losing her legs, having a kidney transplant, learning to walk again, learning to dance again, opening a successful non-profit, and most of all learning to snowboard as a double amputee and later competing in the Paraolympics, I was floored when she said this quote. I am not a snowboarder and part of the reason is I am scared as hell of those big fat rocks that are secretly hiding under the glistening powder that cause people to go flying, bust up their helmet and have traumatic brain injury. But then I read this quote and it donned on me...uh, hello, Raylynn, you have your own set of hidden death boulders and it's called depression. Oh snap. I just said the D word. Now that I've said, we must speak of it.
Over the years I have had some c-razy bouts with depression. It started when I was 19 and I was prescribed birth control for ovarian cysts. My doctor assumed that I would be like any other woman and my body would just adjust like normal and I would be fine. What happened was one of THE most terrifying and hopeless times of my life. I kid you not. I laid awake at night staring at the ceiling wondering if I was going to make it another day, praying I would fall asleep and it would be gone and then as soon as the sun came up all I wanted to do was crawl under my covers and sleep. I would dry heave in the morning when I tried to brush my teeth and I had no appetite. I lost 50 pounds in 6 months. It was almost like I was pregnant. HORRIBLE. Depression is the biggest freaking paradox around. When you absolutely want to cut yourself off from civilization is when you absolutely NEED to be in civilization and around people who love you. It is the most painful awful realization because that is the ONLY way you can kick yourself out of it. And even when you do force yourself out of bed to interact with other warm bodies, it doesn't automatically mean it's going to go away. It takes time and effort and prayer and many times medication.
One of the main things I learned from that first terrifying rounds of depression were my triggers. It would still take me about 10 years to really get it down, but little by little I learned what set me off. At the top of that list is sleep. As soon as the sleep deprivation happens I can almost guarantee that I will slip into a funk. It's like clock work and it scares me. I am almost a habitual napper just so that it doesn't happen. True story. I also have learned that I need regroup time. When a crazy day has happened or something catastrophic has happened in my life or those around me I need quiet time. I need time in my bed (or the bath tub) in the peace and quiet to cry it out, think it through, nap it off and THEN we can move forward and have a plan.
The second really bad round was when I lived in Salt Lake and made the decision to go to therapy. I wrote about that experience in one of my first blog posts. You can find that here. That round I was more prepared because I knew my triggers but that didn't stop it from happening. I was in a really terrible job and was stripping myself of some emotional baggage and it took its toll. At this point I decided that I needed to get my ass to the gym and work it off and that's exactly what I did. But! Here's the deal, THAT still didn't' help on some days. I remember a few too many days that I would be at the gym for 3 hours of grueling tough classes and I would still walk out the door crying because the stress was so high. Thank God for those few good people who knew what was really going on and loved me through it.
The third round is the gift that keeps on giving and that is seasonal blues. I HATE winter. I hate being cold and I hate the days being short. I know....I should learn to ski, I should learn to snowboard, blah blah blah, but honestly, I don't want to at this point in my life. I'm getting closer, but it's a huge expense to just pick up a snow sport. Winters in Utah are really challenging because we experience inversion. Dark, smoggy gross days. It was worse when I lived in Salt Lake, but for whatever reason we've had some bad days here in the 'hood this week. On Sunday I knew that there would not be a single minute of sunshine so I just hid in my bed for most of the day. Then Monday rolled around and the same realization hit me as I headed out the door. Heart sank and I tried not to cry. To harbor the inevitable I came home every day and made dinner and crawled in bed to read my book. So I finished in a much quicker time frame than normal. Thanks to picking up my journaling again and escaping through a new book I am feeling pretty good today.
If I can make any point with this post it is this: you (yes you, not the person behind you) have NO idea who is struggling with mental health boulders. The other completely SHITTY thing about depression is the lack of physical side effects. I am an expert at "fake it to make it" but honestly I really wish that people would believe me when I tell them, "I am dying inside and I can't make it go away" and the reality that it may be that way one day and not the next. If the sun is out, especially in the winter, I am probably having a pretty damn good day. If it's no sunny, I'm probably not doing that great. I am so very grateful for the people who I have been blessed with in my life who have brought consistency and support as I have rode the roller coaster of life. I am also grateful for my trusty trick of napping it out and then facing the issue. It helps SO much.
The moral of the story: We don't get to pick what hides under the powder of life, but we can prepare ourselves by making damn sure that our equipment works the way its supposed to and we are ready to ride the bunny hill if need be.
Until next time, my lovelies!
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