Monday, December 2, 2013

November's Darkness: Dealing with Anxiety and Depression

Wow, November was a tough month in almost every way I can say.  Weather changes and storms coming through Indiana.  Illnesses of one sort or another.  The upcoming holidays making their presence known.  Deaths, unexpected and painful, shaking my family.  I recount all of this as a way of saying, I have had a hard time being creative this month.  I had big plans.  I was going to do the SkAdMo challenge along with the PiBoIdMo challenge.  I got  almost half way there with some rough ideas and some rougher sketches, 13 in all. I could take that as failing, but when I consider I started with an empty book and having never done it before, I have to remind myself to say, "Good Job.  You'll do even better next time!"

And that brings me to something I have touched on in the past here on my blog.  I struggle with the inner critic.  But I am coming to grips with the possibility that the inner critic is more than just me being hard on myself.  I am realizing I have a deeper struggle that has embattled me for years and that is depression.  My husband pointed out that it always seems to come on worse this time of year, a dark nervous and angry mood that won't go away.  My family doctor suggested I get off my anti depressant a bit more than a year ago so I decided I should.  I had been on it for a couple of years and thought maybe he was right and it was time.  Last winter I noticed the tightness in my chest and the nervous feelings I had struggled with a few years before when I had started the meds returning.  But I was determined to push through it.  I told my doctor about the discomfort in my chest but he seemed unconcerned.
I drew this on November 7th.  I think I was trying to work my pain out here.  I love her eyes. 

Lately though the anxious feelings that come and go have been staying longer and there is an edge to me that wasn't there before.  I am quicker to snap and my voice reflects the annoyance I am feeling every time  I am asked to do something I would prefer to avoid.  And avoiding is what I want to do about everything from house work to going to work to talking to people to picking up a pencil and drawing.  October was so fun.  November has been miserable in a silent secluded way.

Last week I asked my OBGYN doctor about going back on an anti depressant (same as I had taken before).  He agreed and wrote a script.  I feel relieved and I look forward to feeling better.  I look forward to feeling creative again.  And I feel peaceful about accepting that I have this vulnerability in myself and that sometimes I need help that comes in the form of a little pill.

I was so reluctant to accept. I have fought this for years, believing that I will talk myself out of the darkness or that if I pray enough or read scripture enough God will lift this off of me. My husband and my sister have both advised me to get help, but I felt too proud because that would be to admit I am weak.  But then I recall a man who was very close to God, close enough that God spoke to him.  He had prayed more than once for his own difficulty to be taken away, something he called "a thorn in the flesh."  Finally God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).  This is my thorn.  And His grace is sufficient.  And rather than remain frustrated and angry and anxious, I will rest in his provision.

This is not to say the pill is the final answer.  I need to exercise more, talk to friends more often, make more art and find ways to celebrate this life God has given me.  I have so much to be thankful for and practicing thankfulness will help me to let go of some of the fear and cynicism which has squeezed so tight around me.  But I know from past experience that the medicine will help me do all these good things.  I asked for help when I finally admitted I needed it and I know I have received.  I am thankful.

Thank you for stopping to read my post.  This was a difficult one to write, but I felt like I needed to share my struggle and admit that I do struggle.  I know many people struggle with depression and anxiety and as these are complicated issues, they require complex treatment.  I have found therapy helpful too and may look into that again.  If you struggle with this, please tell someone and seek help. It is okay to admit you are not perfect.  No one is.  My prayer is that you will find healing in what ever form it comes in.  Please leave a comment.  I would love to know if you found this article helpful and maybe your comment will help someone else.  Blessings!