Depression is not about being sad. You can’t just snap out of depression. Depression consumes your mind and takes over your life. It is silent and sneaks into your life giving you a feeling of hopelessness, desperation, doubt, shame, and loneliness.
Depression does not come with warning signs. It stalks you every single day. Hovering over your mind turning everything black and leaving you to die. Depression puts you in a black hole. It is a consistent darkness despite a sunny forecast.
Depression is strong, it comes focused on taking your joy, your faith, and your hope. It has no mercy. It is very selfish and determined to succeed. It lurks in the background waiting for that prime opportunity to attack; the death of a loved one, the loss of a marriage, the loss of a job, failing health, unrealized dreams.
Depression does not discriminate, it has no preference, young, old, rich, poor, black white, Mexican, Indian, Arab, etc.
Depression has no boundaries. It is constantly with you, attacking your family, finances, dreams, health and mind. It allows you to sleep all day, never wanting to face reality. Taking showers and eating are optional.
Depression sucks the life out of you, forcing you to surrender the activities you enjoy. Drowning you with guilt and fear.
Depression feeds the lies you tell yourself; I will never get out of debt, my life sucks, it was all his/her fault, I am so ugly no one will ever marry me, I will not be happy without them, they don’t understand or care about me, nobody loves me.
Depression will make you mute, unable to articulate your feelings and thoughts. Silencing the cry for help forcing some to die by suicide.
Depression ambushes you! Consuming every thought coercing you to live life filled with regrets constantly replaying the past, no hope for the future and ignoring the present.
Depression becomes your best friend!
Depression was my best friend. I had lost my zeal for life. I was just surviving.
Wake up late, get dressed, drop off my son and daughter, work, pick up my son and daughter, feed them, put on my pajamas, and sit on the couch!
That was my routine. I laid dormant for 2 years.
My heart was filled with bitterness, anger and resentment.
There I was, 35 years old, divorced twice, and a single mom.
This was not supposed to happen to me. I had dreams of becoming a successful business woman, marrying the man of my dreams, with the big house, two cars, two children and a dog.
My mind became stuck in the reality of where I was and where I thought I should have been.
My mind constantly played the painful past of my marriages like a movie trailer.
I would awake every morning hoping for the director to scream, CUT!
Yet, I faced shame, regret, and defeat every day.
One day my life was too heavy to carry and my mind shut down!
I was at ground zero.
My friend found me on the street corner rocking back and forth crying.
I was at the corner of broken and desperation.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression.
After about 6 months on medication and attending my weekly psychiatrist visit, I asked my doctor, “how do I remove the dark cloud of depression from my life?”
He gave me a stern look and said in a fatherly tone, “Tawanna, if you can change your mind, you can change your life!”
At the moment, I realized that I had a choice in recovering from depression.
Depression was my best friend; I had become comfortable with depression.
But it was up to me to disconnect myself from our friendship!
I decided to put on my big girl combat boots, burst all the balloons from my pity party, and change my mind.
Yes! You read that correctly, “Big Girl Combat Boots!”
It was a tug-of-war trying to erase my mind of my negative thoughts.
You’ll know some of those self-sabotaging thoughts:
“I am too fat!”
“I can’t do this!
“I am afraid!
One day while at the Botanical Gardens with my children, I was mesmerized by the lotus flower.
Unfamiliar with the lotus flower, I Googled the flower and I felt an immediate connection.
The lotus flower grows through muddy murky water and blossoms unstained.
The lotus flower and I are kindred spirits. The lotus infused me with hope!
The muddy murky water was the depression; the long stem of the lotus was my ability to persevere, and the beautifully shaped petals are ME TODAY!
I matured through mud and emerged unstained!
Recovery from depression is probable, I am an example of that!
Oh, don’t get it twisted it was not easy! I like to compare my recovery to open heart surgery with no anesthesia.
These 4 actions were essential to my recovery:
- Taking responsibility for your life
- Creating positive affirmations
Taking Responsibility for Your Life
Taking responsibility for the mess of a life that I had created was a sweet pill to swallow. It was a sweet pill for me because I took back my personal power. I was empowered and in control of the outcome of my life.
To be honest, I was not receptive of the idea of taking responsibility of my life. I struggled with the idea for about 3 months. When my psychiatrist presented it to me, it was like kryptonite, I would break out into sweats and get a headache.
He asked me what are you afraid of? Are you afraid that you will lose your power? Are you afraid the you will no longer be the victim?
He taught me that as long as I blamed others and played the victim I was powerless.
Stopping the blame game, removing the excuses, and taking action to change my life was my responsibility. It was not easy, but necessary. Taking responsibility for my life has allowed me create a life filled with love, joy and peace. No longer seeking permission and living life to the beat of my own drum!
Creating Positive Affirmations
Renewing your mind is a daily process, but you have to be willing work at it. I created positive affirmation that I read to myself every morning and night. I also recorded them to my phone and listened to them while I was driving to work and at work.
Erasing my mind of my negative inner chatter was not easy. It took consistency and repetition. Like lifting weights, building a strong minds takes the same effort, if not more! You have to be determined to change and aware of what you are speaking to yourself.
Having powerful positive inner conversations energizes your mind and give you the mental strength you need to overcome life challenges. When I began creating my affirmations, they were simple affirmations that boosted my confidence:
I AM BRAVE
I AM CREATIVE
I AM PATIENT
I AM DETERMINED
I AM TRIUMPHANT
As my confidence evolved, my affirmations evolved:
I AM DESTINED TO SUCCEED
I AM BEAUTIFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE DESPITE THE SIZE OF MY WAIST LINE.
I HAVE QUALITY PEOPLE AROUND ME THAT HAVE MY BEST INTEREST AT HEART.
Writing my affirmations lead to me journaling. I write my affirmations in my journal and read them aloud. One day while writing my affirmations, I began to write my thoughts. Journaling gave me an opportunity to release the many thoughts swimming in my minds.
Journaling allows you to dump all those thoughts in your mind, awakening clarity to solve your problems and relief stress. Journaling allowed me to learn and appreciate myself. Sometimes I read over my journals and laugh and see how far I have come. It is always good to laugh at yourself and reflect on your personal development.
As I continued on my journey of renewing my mind, I ran into a wall. I was carrying anger and malice. They reared their ugly head and hit me head on like a Mack truck; forcing me to pull my car over and release a deep soul releasing cry.
While driving to work a song came on the radio.
These are the lyrics of the song that pierced my heart.
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you
The title of the song is “Forgiveness” by Matthew West.
Forgiving the Unforgiveable
I was not willing to forgive the people that I believed that hurt me. In my mind, forgiving meant I was letting the person that betrayed me off the hook. Well, this song truly proved me wrong.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. Forgiving the people that hurt me is something that I had to intentional want to do. When I made the conscious effort to walk in forgiveness, I made the decision to forgive the people of my past, present and future.
Changing your mind and healing your heart is journey not a destination. I make daily decisions to forgive. To be honest depending on the situation forgiveness it is not always my initial thought, but eventually I come to a place of forgiveness.
As I began to forgive my ex-husbands, there were other past offenses that would come to my mind and I would have to gradually process through the pain and come to a peace of forgiveness. One of my favorite quotes by author Amara Honeck is “forgiveness is the gift of releasing yourself from the past and unclogging your barrier of joy.’ Make a decision today to forgive so that you can be free and fully embrace the present of life.
Yes, depression was my best friends. It showed me how strong I really am, motivated me to face my fears, and gave me the courage to heal. If it was not for depression I would still be living life based on the standards of others and walking in shame.
Yes, depression, controlled my life, quieted my dreams, and magnified my fears. But my ambition to overcome depression made me stronger, encouraged me to dream bigger, and forced me to face my fears!
So I say, THANK YOU, depression for showing me that despite any challenge I am more than a conqueror. The time has come for us to part ways. This is not goodbye this is farewell!
If you are struggling with the darkness of depression, I ask that you seek help. Reach out to a professional that will guide you and give you sound advice. Take your prescribed medication. Seek out an in-person or online support group.
In your journey of recovery, be receptive to the reality of your life and take responsibility to change your life to what you want and deserve. You have the strength within to be more and have more.
Go to the local Dollar Tree and get you a journal and start getting those thoughts out of your head. Maybe you are not ready to join a group and share your thoughts, but you can still write them down.
Start renewing your mind with positive inner conversations by creating affirmations. Speak them to yourself daily. The more you speak to yourself in a positive tone the better your days we be.
Lastly, be willing to forgive. It is not an overnight process; it is a journey. I am on the journey of forgiveness; some days I get it and some days I don’t. Just trust yourself and the process; you have the strength, courage and wisdom within to overcome!