“Just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you are failing.”
I saw this quote online and it struck a chord with me. As a mother and a woman facing depression and anxiety, I cannot tell you how many times I have felt like a failure.
I’ve been battling depression now for almost a year and it has been no easy feat, but I have seen better days when I’ll feel good and happy. My tell-tale sign of slumping into my darker moods is irritability. It comes out with a vengeance and boy, can this mama roar. I remember at the beginning of this journey when I would wake up feeling irritable every day and it was so difficult to tame the beast. My poor family! How I hated that they endured the brunt of my sullen moods. I am forever grateful for their understanding. I have learned so much and yet the struggle is still very much real. This time of year, with the dreary, bitter cold days, makes it so hard to find motivation; to see the light through the darkness. I find myself irritable again and acting like a homebody, wanting to stay in the comfort and seclusion of my home.
A year ago I would have viewed all of this as a failure. I would have been criticizing myself for having these feelings and for being a terrible mother and wife for taking out my emotions on the people I love most. But what I have learned along the way has changed my perspective.
I have learned acceptance. For so long I wouldn’t accept the ugly emotions that would be unleashed through my depression and anxiety. I tried to hide them, push them away and convinced myself that I was wrong for feeling the way I did. I have learned to allow myself to acknowledge these feelings, process them and learn to cope with them. I have learned to not allow them to define my life and accept that they are simply a part of it.
I have learned forgiveness. I try not to punish myself whenever I’m having bad days. I say “try” because sometimes I’m still hard on myself. It’s a work in progress. I acknowledge my bad days and moods and strive to not only forgive myself for them but also to make the next day better. I’ve become a lot better at recognizing when the frustration, irritability or anger easily comes out and I do my best to rectify it. I have learned to ask for forgiveness and have felt so blessed when my children and husband accept my apology.
I have learned strength. In my lowest moment, I convinced myself that I was weak and that I didn’t have what it took to be mentally strong and healthy again. I felt scared and ashamed of my cowardly thoughts of wanting to run away from it all. But somewhere in me, I found strength and courage. I found the determination to prove myself wrong. I saw my family doctor. I went to a therapist. I learned about meditation and mindfulness. I started to go to yoga more often. With every positive step I took in my journey, I slowly saw the negative ones stay behind me and started feeling stronger again.
The most important thing I have learned goes back to the quote I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post and why it resonated with me. I know now that just because I am struggling with anxiety and depression doesn’t mean I am failing. Sure, I may still stumble and fall, but I have learned to pick myself up and keep trying, and that in itself is a success.