By Kathryn Libel
*Content Warning: Mental Illness*
The phone is ringing. Again.
I shut the ringer off.
This is one of those weeks when I feel like anyone with the audacity to invade my privacy by calling me on the phone and expecting me to pick it up and talk to them is simply not going to get the satisfaction of dictating my life.
Why, yes, it is that time of the month, how could you tell?
Seriously, though, this last week has been really tough. Not answering the phone is a big clue that the depression is closing in on me, like a whale over an unsuspecting diver.
Another clue is getting irritated with my kids for wanting to see my phone because I am about to make the new record on their annoying jump-over-tables and duck-under-flying-footballs game.
Actually, now that I think about it, I have a lot of clues.
Intrusive thoughts? Umm, yes.
Ruminating? Oh, I’m sorry… I was lost in thought about all the things that I did yesterday that will probably ruin my children’s entire lives. FOREVER.
Triggered? Every. Time. The screen door slams.
Sleep disturbances? Watching Marvel movies until 2am and falling asleep on the couch every afternoon is healthy! Ahem, if I was still 21 and in college… which I am NOT.
Substances? Umm, I drank half a pot of coffee this morning and a beer to try to help me fall asleep tonight. And it’s midnight now.
And you, dear one, who knows exactly how this feels… I see you.
I see how you struggle against the swirling thoughts.
I see how you put makeup on this morning, even though no one will see it.
I see how you swallowed that triggered response, instead of yelling at your kids.
I see you taking your kids to the park instead of lying on the couch all afternoon.
I see you continuing to provide for your loves, even when you can’t provide for yourself.
I see your tears, your struggle, your resilience, your grit.
I see in you what I see in myself.
These weeks used to plummet me into months of spiraling downward. I wouldn’t sleep, would stop drinking water, would basically find every way possible to punish myself for feeling so low. Like, maybe if I kept punching myself, I’d feel motivated to get back up instead of stay down for the count?
This time, I know what to do. I know it will end. I put off answering as many calls as possible. I texted a few of my contacts and simply told them it would be next week until I could get to them. I spent extra time snuggling on the couch with the kids. I avoided movies and news and books and podcasts that would trigger me further. I let my body sleep, and I’m letting my brain type. I know my best writing usually comes from these difficult weeks.
So dear one, look back at where you have been and give yourself credit for how far you’ve come. See how the work is paying off. Every time you notice your breathing, every time you jump in the shower and wash the feelings down the drain, every time you get up in the morning, every time you smile at your babies through the fog, you are beating this thing.
Depression and anxiety don’t define you.
They don’t own you.
And they are NOT defeating you.
Come on, friend. Take my hand and know you aren’t alone. Let’s DO this hard thing!
If you are struggling with depression, please reach out for help. You are not alone. Click here for, help, resources, and 24/7 hotlines.
Kathryn Libel is a Midwestern mom to a boy who loves books and a girl who loves dirt. Words, big thoughts, coffee, and good food really turn her crank! If she isn’t busy navigating big thoughts and big feelings with her kiddos, she is usually reading, writing, or eating something delicious!