This is the most vulnerable thing (and longest post) I have ever shared publicly. Ever.
Last week’s loss of one of the greatest actors and comedians hit me hard. I know his pain, R.I.P. Robin Williams. By now I’m sure your Facebook news feed has been filled with loving remembrances of not just Robin Williams, but other people’s loved ones who suffered like he did. You probably read a few stories from friends realizing that you never knew that they too were suffering in silence. You may have even felt a hurt in your heart because you personally struggle with this silent sadness as well.
I get it. I read it…and I felt it.
There’s this part of me that really struggles and I don’t mean struggles to eat the right food or exercise daily. I mean struggles to get out of bed and even function. The kind of struggle where I’ve laid in bed crying for 3 days straight to feel “normal” again. To be the happy person I know resides inside me.
I was a really sad kid. Like really, really sad. I would go to bed and pray to God that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I would pray that He would have mercy on me and keep me from the daily struggle of life. Just getting up and facing the day was so much to handle and there were no logical reasons I felt that way.
Everybody feels sad at times, and even depressed, but depression is real and it is debilitating for some.
I look back at 6 year old Jessica and I’m so sad for her that it was such a struggle and that suicide felt like the best possible option. Most people don’t even think of someone as young as 6 being depressed. I can still feel what it was like desperately wanting to ask for help but being afraid of what might happen if I told the truth. The truth of how much I wanted it all to stop. For some of us, living is so hard.
I set really high standards for myself, even at 6 years old. I’m not sure if that helped or made matters worse. But what I do know is that the thought of suicide wasn’t scary because being good enough just didn’t add up. It was easier to think of not living than it was to think of living a life not good enough.
Death has never been something I feared. I fear being injured which is why I am terrified of things like airplanes and bunging jumping, but death has never scared me.
The only thing that kept me going as a kid was knowing how much my family loved me. Despite my feelings of desperation I just could not do that to my mother. I knew she would never forgive herself for having not seen the signs. I couldn’t break her heart like that. I couldn’t let my dad suffer the loss of a child. (Thanks Mom & Dad for loving me so much!). I also couldn’t leave my siblings with a broken mom.
What I wished had been different was that it would have felt safe to say I need help. To say help me, I am dying on the inside. Something inside me never felt right and it never felt safe to tell anyone. I was terrified that if I asked for help they would take me away from my mom or that my parents would go bankrupt with medical debt trying to take care of me and that felt more selfish than suicide.
Instead I spent my days crying. I have always been teased by my siblings for being oversensitive. While it might be true, how would things have been different if they only knew how many times I sat down with a plan to meet death and it was sparing them the sadness that I didn’t. I know they didn’t know what I was struggling with deep down inside. I know that they loved me and were just being siblings and I am grateful that I was treated normal by them. Plus, to be honest, I wasn’t prepared to deal with them pitying me if I had come forward about my thoughts of suicide and how I was sick with depression. It was easier to have them watch me in confusion as I sat on the floor hyperventilating with anxiety attacks on an almost daily basis. It was easier to be a “freak” than it is to admit that I suffer from depression. How the heck did that feel safer?
Instead…I was shamed into silence. I suffered in silence. Depression is a silent killer.
Recently I told my mom about my thoughts of suicide as a kid and she had no idea. I know that her even knowing I felt that way must hurt for her. As a mother I know how much it would sting to know a child was hurting so much inside. But she didn’t know because it was my secret that was easier to keep than share.
I certainly don’t share my story for pity. By all means, I cried the entire time I wrote this. But for once it’s easier to share than hide because if just ONE PERSON FEELS LESS ALONE BY READING THIS, then it’s worth dealing with anything else that might come from it.
I wish that I could say that I don’t ever deal with depression anymore. But I do. I’ve had to talk with my kids about my depression. That was the least fun thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve had to talk to my kids about suicide and what to look for and how to help. I shared with them because I wanted them to understand that I am trying my hardest and that I love so much I am willing to be vulnerable and honest with them. I want them to know that when I’m sad it has nothing to do with them or any external events. I want them to feel safe asking for help if they ever feel this way.
I share my story as well in hopes that some of what has worked for me might also work for you or someone you love.
Disclaimer real quick: I am not YOUR medical professional. I am sharing my own personal experience and all your medical decisions need to be made with your medical doctor. What I am sharing are tools that have made depression less debilitating and have taken away my almost daily anxiety attacks.
I can tell you that any time as an adult that depression has crept up and kept me in bed crying has been because I wasn’t taking care of myself the way I need too.
11 months ago I quit my day job (best decision of my life). Yet, 3 months later I laid in bed crying for 2-3 days. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Why the relapse? I was truly happier than I had been in 15 years. I finally quit that soul sucking job. I was pissed off that depression was doing this to me at a so called happy time of my life.
I lost my identity. I had been the banker girl and didn’t know how to be me.
MORE IMPORTANTLY, and my husband’s keen observation, was that I also stopped taking care of myself. I stopped being diligent about my daily vitamins, eating every 2-3 hours and I went from walking 2-5 miles per day to walking the dogs for an obligatory ½ mile. I even quit my job teaching yoga.
I let go of my healthy routine when I let go of my job. How did I let that happen when living well was my JOB!
This takes me back to my depression as a child. I’m sure as a kid I wasn’t getting proper nutrition or adequate exercise for my needs. No fault of my mother. I was a picky eater and hated sports. I lived for the arts and reading as a way of self expression (or self preservation). A way to express myself without words.
Sometimes I think of my husband’s pancreatitis and realize that him being sick was one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive. It took me down the road of becoming a nutritionist and yoga teacher. I taught ne about how to heal myself and love myself.
I know in my heart that self care is a fundamental act of self love.
If you are suffering depression, please reach out to someone for help. Reach out to me if you need too. But start thinking of ways you can love yourself to your greatest potential. In what ways can you be your best self?
For the education and less emotional part of this post (because I am a nutritionist after all), please choose one thing and add another item each week until you feel a change. This is for everyone, not just those living with depression. Also, talk with your medical professional for support.
My wish for you is that you have compassion for yourself. non-judgment of your journey and the flexibility to keep moving forward. In the words of Dory in Finding Nemo, just keep swimming.
In health, happiness and joy – live your wildly vibrant life!
By Jessica Wyman
Jessica Wyman is a Wildly Vibrant health coach and yoga teacher. She has a well rounded approach to loving yourself like no other + she specializes in 5-ingredient healthy recipes. She was born and raised in Idaho and has never left her hometown area because she has access to the city while surrounded by the mountains that she backpacks with her husband, teenage sons and giant dogs. As a health-coach-mama she has no time to waste and it's her mission to make foxy, fit and fashionable living a breeze. Get her free 5-Day Wellness Program that gives a realistic approach without a diet.
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