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On with my entry:
My Journey to Inner PeaceIn the Bible, Mark 4:39 tells how Jesus calmed a terrible storm at sea while on a boat with his disciples by saying three simple words.
"Peace! Be still!"
For years, I've thought of that story when life's storms darken my joy. Those verses and others like it involving peace, particularly in Psalms, have given me much comfort over the years. Combined with prayer and meaningful meditation, it worked to calm my personal tempests.
Until about two years ago.
Let's begin earlier than that. On New Year's Eve in 2001, our first child Megan was born. If you're a parent, you can imagine the immense joy and fear we felt bringing our newborn home for the first time. I'd changed maybe three diapers in my lifetime, had no idea how to breastfeed correctly, and was woefully unprepared at just how much responsibility being a mother would bring. Yet, I had joy and lots of it. I remember days and nights just relishing every little moment with my new daughter, and all the peace that came with it. Sure, I was a total mombie from lack of sleep, but Megan's birth symbolized that a part of my husband and I would carry on even after we're gone. She embodied the possibility of making the world a better place.
Over the next several years, life happened, as it tends to do. We went on to have two more children--true joys, but other things pulled the rug from under me, battering my already exhausted mind and body. But as mothers tend to do, I focused more on others than myself and ignored my own needs. More often than not, I felt hopeless and exhausted. I suspect that even a decade ago, I had un-diagnosed postpartum depression. Yet, I trudged on in denial, telling myself and everyone else that things would get better in time. But, life didn't slow down, and all the stress that came with it began to swallow me whole in 2010. It was the perfect foothold for clinical depression, and it came on so gradually that I didn't recognize it until it had rooted its dark claws in my mind.
That's the thing with depression. It tricks you into thinking you're just "down in the dumps". Everyone gets down sometimes, it tells you. You'll be fine if you just plow on through. Then, the lies begin. Obviously there's something wrong with you if you can't get over it. You start questioning everything you thought you knew about yourself. You start to forget that you used to be fun, that you used to enjoy the simple things, that you were a good person.
I can't begin to tell you how nasty it is. It's hard to describe depression to someone who's never experienced it. And maybe it's different for everyone. But, all I know is, somewhere along the way I lost my joy and sense of inner peace. Oh sure, I could put on a happy face when I needed to, and often, I actually felt happy enough that I thought I was getting better. The mental storm would retreat for a while, only to return again with a vengeance.
Some days, I literally felt like the worst (wife/mother/writer/person) in the world. Depending on the day, I could fill in the blank with anything. Prayer and Bible study didn't work anymore. How could it with depression telling me that not even God cared a whit about me? Some days, I could barely make myself get out of bed to do even the simplest things. In the last few months, I didn't even find much joy in writing anymore--the one thing that I'd clung to in an attempt to hold on to my drowning identity.
I think that's when I knew that I had to let go. This tug-of-war with depression was a pointless battle. I needed help. I needed to swallow my pride and get reinforcements.
So, I did. I'm about a month and a half into treatment, and FINALLY, after two years of stumbling in the dark, telling myself and everyone else that I was just fine, I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Some days, it's brighter than others, but I see it. And I keep heading for it. Depression is losing its grip. Lord knows, it's over-stayed its welcome.
Inner peace seems attainable once more. The dark veil is lifting. I'm not There yet. I'm not even sure if there is a There. What's important is the journey. I'm re-discovering myself as I head toward the light. I'm seeing things in a new way.
- I understand that things aren't always black and white. What works for one person might not be good for someone else.
- I'm leaning more on faith than religion.
- I'm discovering that wisdom comes not just with age, but with experience.
- I'm accepting that I cannot judge my own success by that of others. My journey will be my own, whether it's faster or slower than someone else's.
- Peace, in all its forms, takes a great deal of work. It's a constant struggle to maintain balance, contentment, and proper motivation. When any of these things are off-kilter, peace will not prevail.
- I am not super-woman, nor will I ever be. Before I can take care of others, I have to take care of me.
I couldn't agree more. Depression is a selfish disease that consumes your inner peace and eventually tarnishes every aspect of your life. You have to protect yourself and seek help when you need it. I'm hopeful now that my mind's on the mend. Depression is still there, trying to infiltrate my weak points, yet I'm able to push past it more often than not. I'm back to accomplishing things. However small, they're still victories. I'm ready to stand at the helm with Jesus and shout at the world, "Peace! Be still!" and relax in knowing that it's possible.