By Kimberly Poovey
A version of this post originally appeared on The Glorious Table
My last major depressive episode was a few years ago.
That is, until two weeks ago.
Mental illness is no stranger to me. Depression and I seem to have semi-regular appointments with each other, like old friends trying to stay caught up on each other’s busy lives. Sometimes depression hits harder than at other times. These past two weeks have been one of those times.
It came out of nowhere. A big blow to my security and self-esteem came and knocked the wind out of me. It was just the trigger my old friend Depression needed, sauntering right into the party and looking for a fight.
I was shocked by how quickly I sank into the darkness, as if I’d stepped into deep mire. Tears hung behind my eyes every moment of the day. I was exhausted. It was all I could do to get out of bed and feed my preschooler. I couldn’t eat. All I wanted to do was sleep. I stopped writing, reading books, running, or painting (a few of the things I love most in the world). I felt worthless and meaningless and irrelevant.
Even though, intellectually, I knew that these were lies Depression was telling me, they felt true.
Depression is a big, nasty, lying monster. So how do I deal? I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of my most recent depressive episode, and here are a few things that really helped:
I Forced Myself to Care for Myself
Even during my darkest moments, I would never dream of forgetting to feed, bathe, or nurture my child. I chose to treat myself the same way. Even though I had no appetite, I made myself eat healthy foods. When I didn’t want to leave the house, I put on pants and took long walks in the fresh air. When I was tired, I slept. I kept taking my meds. I treated myself with care, like a wilting potted plant. Even though it felt like I was only going through the motions, it was what my body and mind ultimately needed.
I Reminded Myself, Out Loud, That Depression Is a Liar
Because sometimes, that’s what it takes. I would tell myself, over and over again, that this will pass. That I am worthy. That I am not defined by my biggest mistakes. That this dark season is just a small part of my story.
I Sat in It
To the best of my ability, I tried not to numb myself to my sadness. I let myself feel every excruciating, unpleasant bit of it. The pain was (is) real, and it deserved to examined, experienced, and processed. I told the people closest to me how I was feeling, and leaned on them hard for support and reassurance. I let them hold me up. When it comes to hard emotions, the only way out is through.
I Constantly Reminded Myself That I’m Still a Badass Mom
My child is loved. He is wonderfully taken care of. He is happy. He is compassionate and empathetic. My mental illness does not preclude me from being an excellent parent.
Jesus himself, was crushed by grief and sadness more than once in the gospels. And if Jesus can feel depression, then certainly, so can I. But it isn’t where I have to stay. Nearly two weeks since the start of my last major episode, I’m starting to feel like myself again. I will embrace this next season, come what may, knowing that joy and peace await me on the other side.
*Love this essay? Buy me a coffee. It’s like a tip jar for our writers.*
Kimberly Poovey is the founder of The Exvangelical Parent. She is a liberal misfit Enneagram 9 INFP who likes long walks on the beach, honey-habanero lattes, and Zoloft. After spending over a decade in the ministry world, she now writes and creates full time. She lives with her partner of 15 years and their 5-year-old son in the mountains of North Carolina.