In December 2016, I hit my lowest point. My rock bottom. Or at least that’s what most people would consider it. It was dark, it was scary and it was lonely.
After years of suffering and fighting the reality that I lived with Depression, it could no longer be ignored. I tried to pretend it wasn’t there. I would put on the smile, show up and do what needed to be done. In fact, I would do MORE than what needed to be done. I was reliable, dependable, a hard-worker and good at my job. I was a great friend and seemed to be “happy.” But behind that exterior I was in pain.
I thought if I ignored it, it would just go away. I was afraid that if my co-workers and friends found out, they would think I was crazy. That I wasn’t competent. That I wasn’t worthy of their friendship or respect. I thought it made me weak. The harder I resisted, the more tenacious it became. Depression was persistent. It consumed my thoughts, it showed up in my body. Until one day, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye because I knew if I did, they would know my secret. My eyes would well up when someone casually asked, “How are you?”
In December of 2016, I didn’t think life was worth living. I believed that to admit I was struggling was to admit I was a failure. Not just at my job, but as a human. My worth was tied to what I could accomplish, how strong I could be and what I could handle and get done without complaint. I secretly wished for a terminal illness, because dying that kind of death was more honourable.
I went to the doctor and asked for a couple days off (because that should solve the problem, I thought). But, she vehemently refused to allow me to go back to work. I argued, but she thankfully persisted and insisted. So, when I went off of work, I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, I felt hopeless and completely lost. I believed I had hit my rock bottom because I had to take sick leave. I felt like I had to have a better “excuse.” Depression? That wasn’t enough. Three weeks off turned into six months. How do I answer people’s questions? What do I tell them?
This truth is, my rock bottom wasn’t taking time off work, nor was it being unable to “handle” things anymore. My rock bottom was believing I shouldn’t take care of myself. My rock bottom was ignoring all of the signals and messages that Depression was trying to send me. My rock bottom was listening to the lies I conjured up in my mind; that people wouldn’t respect me or love me if they knew I was struggling. My rock bottom was believing that my worthiness was tied to what I could do and not to the simple fact that I am.
Since that time I have learned to listen. I no longer suffer. Do I occasionally struggle? Of course! But, I have learned to take care of myself so that I can show up and contribute to others in a meaningful way. It’s been a journey that I continue to walk. But as I walk it, I know more and more that Depression doesn’t make me less of a sister, daughter, spouse, friend, coach or human. In fact, my ability to show up for others is enhanced by my own experience and willingness to dig in to all my darkest corners.
If you are living with, struggling with or fighting with Depression, anxiety or stress, I hear you. I see you. You are not alone and this isn’t the way your story ends. Choose now to make it a new beginning.
Below I've shared a portion of a letter that I wrote last year. This was at a time when things were beginning to shift and I hope that in sharing it, someone may begin to experience or be open to a shift as well.
With gratitude and love,