One time I wrote about the Gray in my life. The gray that is anxiety & depression and how it has been a tangled up part in my story.
And how each passing day I do my best to find the color God has handpicked for me in that hour, minute, year of my life.
Canary yellow was where I landed then.
Now? I’m somewhere around a dusty blue, I think.
Last night I shared this letter out loud in response to others’ response to me…do you follow?
I’m not in the deep, gray pit that kind of felt like hell six years ago.
But I am in a postpartum, hormonal funk where words like
stuck tired overwhelmed unsure frustrated wrestling just-wanting-a-donut blah
meet the good book-ends of
hopeful strong not-really-giving-a-hoot about anyone’s opinions but Jesus
I’m not sure if that made any sense, and to be honest my six month old just woke up from a 14 minute nap and I’m annoyed by that? See…hormones.
Regardless, being open about this dusty-blue time in my life– a time that feels a lot frail but also really magical with an aging lens into what a blessing this time is–has been a gift.
It’s been a relationship builder
A healing tool
A space where people can open their mouth and find that its okay to be exactly where they are and have other hands to help them not stay stuck there.
Stuck in habitual patterns, and mindsets, believable shame or decades of familial avoidance and denial.
Its been really good– as in even better than that experiential latte in the Starbucks drive thru.
[Open letter– with some filled in gaps]
A few days ago I let my hair down for you, even though it was still in the same greasy, half-worked out bun from the day before. Tonight I’m reading you a letter that is already written, so that if I look you in the eye, nothing you do or say, can fumble up the thoughts I have for you.
Thoughts about the giant, stigma-tized a & d words. And I’m not talking about the baby butt cream. But if I were I’d tell you to go buy some original CJ’s bum butter because it’s a million times better.
I am talking about anxiety and depression. With a lower case a & d because I don’t believe they have to hold a capital letter in your life. And if they do, I want to give you the hope in squashing it…or at least putting it in its place.
When you hear anxiety…depression…what’s the very first thing that pops in your mind? or does it bubble up in your heart? or maybe make you queasy in your gut?
I’m serious. Say it out loud to yourself.
Some of you will say,
I’ve been there
I am there
I get it
Others will think,
why is she talking about this? out loud?
This is too personal
I can’t relate
And some of you are saying to yourself,
anxiety isn’t real
depression is a choice
and my personal favorite,
Let me tell you, I’m not whining to you. I whine to a select handful of special people, most importantly my husband, and you can hug him later.
But here? I’m creating a physical and tangible space for someone, maybe even you, to know their not alone.
You’re not alone.
As a little girl, I worried… a lot. I would even get stress headaches and people would tell me I’m too young…that it was in my head (cue the irony).
As a young adult… I worried even more. The number of times I heard people tell me I was “being ridiculous” really got to me. It affected me.
My anxious tendencies manifested themselves in different ways… lost sleep, night terrors, pulling out my hair, restless leg and a racing heart.
And then when Jeff and I started dating, he was just so good and all my anxious crap hit the fan and the full blown monster that anxiety is came hunting me down.
It was a really dark time and depression paralleled it. Layers of my past playing catch up and trying to speed past me without having had the chance to grip it and face it.
An eating disorder, marks on my body, panic attacks on bathroom floors, a lot of fear being projected as anger and a slew of other details that are for a coffee date together in trusted company (really, I’m an open book and glad to share the details)
But here in this space I want to detail the “sticky notes” that Jeff and I have found are critical to know about a & d… whether you’re in it, or you’ve stuck it on a shelf and never looked back, know someone in it, or think its bogus.
We were made to thrive
Fully. Which is why I advocate for it so much. The flipside? We are all broken sinners and have cracks where less-than-thriving has the chance to seep in. Made to thrive is our identity. Anxiety and depression is not. Sometimes less-than-thriving looks like a & d in peoples’ lives. They can show up as a pair, or ride solo.
Not one size fits all
For some it’s a predisposition. Genetic and familial lines passed down. For others it’s environmental. For some it stems from an isolated experience or event. And still for others its seasonal, as weather patterns change, or hormones and body shifts take their toll.
For everyone, it is real
It is not ridiculous. And absolutely important for you to stick in your brain? It looks different for everyone and doesnt’ wear the same face.
It does not mean you are weak
Even to name the weakness. Some will disagree with me that I call it a weakness, but I’m a big believer that we were made for wholeness. And wholeness in who we ARE as God’s child is a life of peace and freedom…a life without anxiety and depression.
But this side of heaven, there will be hard
And if you tell me you’re life has been a breeze, I will tell you you’re lying to me. If the hard you face is a & d, or the hard your LOVED one faces is… acknowledge it. Stop ignoring it. Call it what it is, it is not your friend.
And guess what?
You get to fight it like a freaking warrior
Either for yourself…or for the ones you love.
Jeff is an a & d fighting machine, my calm-dragon slayer. He talks it down so good. He prays so hard. He sees me (better than he used to). And he helps me put it in its place.
When people let out their warrior cry, you realize you have a whole army fighting beside you.
The cry might look like
being brave enough to say the words out loud
showing up to your first counseling appointment because you realize this life isn’t about you, but about God and His story thru you, you realize that a & d doesn’t let Him shine…or let your family thrive
putting two feet on the ground, turning up the music, and dancing with no rhythm in your hips until you sweat yourself into a pool of healing tears
having a season on an anti-depressant and an accountability partner to process the journey
learning how to say NO for awhile
booking a one night retreat to reset…alone
chatting with me about that pink drink & gut-brain connection
literally driving at 11 pm after your kids are in bed, listening to Andrew Peterson’s Resurrection Letter’s Vol. 1 and screaming at the top of your lungs, “Here I am Lord, meet me here”
Heart fully exposed, fully open
Whatever it is, there is HOPE. There is space for you here.
The counter to it? A spouse’s take. Someone who chose someone in the fight. Someone who had to learn it, because honestly? It didn’t make sense to him. It still doesn’t. But here’s my man’s take.
- Anxiety and depression is not to be reasoned with, it’s to be known. It doesn’t have a rationale behind it. It doesn’t make sense. People that are in it can feel out of body.
- Listen behind the words. There is a person.
- Jesus came for this too. He loves us so much. His love COVERS this too. It’s not the place you have to be.
And I’ll end on this note. The Lord recognizes our anxious tendencies and our depressed seasons. That is why he calls us to more in his word. That is why he asks us to present our hearts to him. Not to pretend it doesn’t exist, but to literally
place it in His care.
I love you, friends. Whether this is a 10 year battle for you. Whether it ebs and flows. Or it’s a closet secret. Something you’ve refused to name. Or a 50 year genealogical pattern that’s now affecting your kiddos. Or an 8 month postpartum roller coaster ride or something that has popped up in your life that you can’t explain…it is okay.
There is a warrior cry within you waiting to be heard and held.
And I am here for you.