Depression and Anxiety: My Defining Line of Highs and Lows (BLOG #2)

 

I would first like to say that if you’re reading this right now and you’re battling a mental illness, please know that you’re not alone. It will certainly feel like you’re all alone and I know reading this in the first line of a blog article may not be the most personal message, but before you read this whole article I simply wanted you to know that you’re not alone. These words below are from my personal experiences and although everyone’s journey is different, I really wanted you to know that you’re not alone. Yes, I have now repeated that message three times, but it is so important. When you’re in a dark season it will seem like you’re all alone and that feeling feels so real, because it’s what you think you believe. When I was able to bring myself to a place where I truly understood that I wasn’t alone, I found myself always thinking that it can get worse, but it will get better. When you’re at what you think is your lowest, chances are there will be a time in life when you’ll think that again. It is in those lows, that I (try to but not always perfectly) tell myself it can get worse, but I know it will get better.

If you’re reading this and you’re not one of the five that battles a mental illness, then chances are someone you know is. Do you know who it is? You may have someone in your life right now that needs someone to talk to. Take a moment and think about anyone in your life that may need a simple, “Hey, thinking about you today, hope you’re having a good day” – it goes a long way.  If a friend or family member opens up to you and you’re not too sure how to handle the conversation, a great way to respond is to let them know you are there to listen. Often when we listen to someone share a personal struggle, we can feel as if we need to have the answer to help them in that moment. Rather than thinking you need to have the answer, listen from a place where you try to understand their feelings. Listen to understand rather than listen to respond. If you have never experienced a mental illness it may be difficult for you to completely understand, but if you show that you’re trying to understand and listening well – it will help them feel good to be heard. If the conversation gets to a point where you sense you need to respond but not sure how, tell them you’re committed to helping them define the next step in their journey, it will do more than you know. Even if it is a Google search to help them find local contact information for a counselor, doctor, etc. – having someone listen and show they care can be life changing. Having someone do this with me really helped me see that I wasn’t alone, and I quickly realized that it can get worse, but it will get better.

It can get worse. This doesn’t mean the same as the popular saying, “someone always has it worse than you”. Although that is almost always a true statement for most people in the general terms of life, saying that to someone fighting through a mental illness is like telling your significant other to calm down when you feel they need to calm down – it doesn’t help and may make it worse. This context is directly applied to your own unique situation, no matter what that may be – it can get worse. Don’t compare yourself to others. Something else that “it can get worse” does not mean is that it will get worse. Changing the “can” to “will” changes the whole tone and mood of it. It can get worse implies that there is a possibility that it will not get worse. That can place you in a positive mindset and at the same time, allow you to understand reality so that if it does get worse, you’re better prepared to face it from within a positive mindset. The alternative, saying it will get worse automatically places a dark mood on it and projects negativity. When things do get worse when you’re already feeling down, you’ll be better prepared to fight back from a positive mindset rather than a negative mindset (that we can so easily find ourselves in when we’re in our lows). It can get worse, but it will get better.

But it will get better. Will it? Picture a horizontal line. The far-left side of that line represents your lowest of lows. The far-right side of the line represents your highest of highs. Think for a moment. If you had to place a mark on this horizontal line to indicate where you currently are, where along that line would you be today? If you’re having a bad day, it could be right at the middle mark or a bit to the left. Have you ever had a really bad day where you thought that no matter what, nothing else could go wrong? Then it did. Then you wake up the next day and that same feeling plays out all over again. And again. And again, for days and days – that can be a dark season. If that is where you’re at right now, then you’re mark on the line may be closer to the far left. On the other side, if you’re in a good place you may score well into the right side of the line. Think back to a time where you thought you were at your lowest of lows. Can you think of more than one time when you thought this? Where would they score on the line? In different places? Surely it wouldn’t be the same spot if the last time you thought it was your lowest, didn’t turn out to be your lowest. That lowest line will constantly move. When that happens, you can remind yourself of the last time you thought you were at the bottom, you ended up on your feet. Every time. Wherever there is a low mark on that line, it is eventually follow up by a higher mark. It could take a day, a week, a month, a year or more -but don’t stop fighting because it can get worse, but it will get better.

When you can bring yourself to understand and believe that no matter what life brings your way, always know that it will get better. Sure, most times it will be hard to believe while you’re standing in that moment but try and think back to your line. Think back to all the times you were standing in this same place and then fought through to come out on the other side, even better than you were before. At the same time, it is important to not forget that it can get worse…but if or when it does, you know it will get better. Every time. It always has. It always will. Keep moving forward with the mindset that no matter how bad it gets, that it will get better. It’s not easy but keep fighting and remember, you’re not alone. No matter where you land on the line today, tomorrow or in five years from now – it can get worse, but it will get better.

 

LOW |———————————————————————————————| HIGH

 

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