The Importance of Self-Care Before You Self-Destruct

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I used to think celebrities were just being dramatic when they would go to rehab for stress or exhaustion. After having three children, I totally get it. In fact, I get it so much that, if I had the money, I’d have checked myself in months ago.

Being tired is sucky. Being tired, depressed, anxious and just stressed the hell out is super sucky. Top it off with some everyday stress, strong-willed offspring and a sloppy spouse (sorry dear, we all know it’s true), and I’m on the verge of a super-duper sucky meltdown.

My mother tried to warn me of this, in the form of: “Always make time for yourself! If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your family.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. I’m not your average mama bear, I’ve got this!”

I have recently realized that maybe I don’t got this and it’s really hard to admit, but I’ve been making sure to let people know I’m struggling with my everyday responsibilities. Naturally, I was expecting some negative feedback. Instead, I found support, which was very refreshing.

I was offered a weekend getaway, because my husband is just that nice. I’ll still be close by, at my best girlfriend’s house, but that’s vacation enough for me. I will only have to worry about taking care of myself, for a change. I will miss my children and husband so very much, but I really need some of that “me time” so I can better handle all the “we time.” I can’t continue to take care of them if I continue to neglect myself. I will come home well-rested and ready to go back to my life. I need this reset weekend, because I just don’t think a reset day is going to help this time.

Never be ashamed to let someone know you need help. Being a parent is hard. Just being an adult is hard. Always make sure you’re giving yourself those hours, days, or even weekends, to just focus on you. We all need to remember that we have to keep the machine oiled and serviced regularly, or it will shut down. We’re no good to anyone if we’re completely incapacitated.

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Thinkstock photo via Jupiterimages

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How It Feels to Be Trapped in the Dark Box of Depression

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

The hardest part of all this is having to explain it to others.

How do I tell them how I feel when there are no words to describe it and I’m scared of my own thoughts? I know how I feel, I know what I think, but describing that and having to explain it is so painful and I can not grasp the words to do so. Somehow, typing how I feel is so much easier than explaining it out loud. Maybe it’s because I can add to this on my bad days and my good days, getting all perspectives of it, without choking and having to hold back the tears when speaking. It’s somehow easier — not easy, just a bit easier.

I feel like I’m in a small dark box, no light on and hardly any room to move. The longer I am kept in that dark box, the harder it is for me to breathe. I’m still a part of what’s around me; surrounded by this black box, I hear and can feel the presence of others but I am restricted from interacting. The black box doesn’t allow it and I’m slowly struggling to breathe. It’s like a dark hole or a long tunnel, but I cannot see any light. I just want to get out, but where’s the exit?

I no longer control my thoughts, they control me. Sleep has now become an escape; when I’m asleep, it’s gone. The black box disappears and I feel peaceful, and then I wake up. The worst part of this is that I wish I could sleep for weeks or even months and then wake up and magically feel better again, back to my old self, my happy self. When I go to bed each night, I don’t look forward to waking up in the morning. I don’t know if I’ll wake up feeling OK or wake up stuck in this small, black box again. Each day feels the same to me, over and over again. My feelings are like a monotone voice, flat and plain. When I am in a bad state of mind, I don’t feel happy, excited, scared, nervous or even hungry — I just feel numb.

People assume that depression is being sad and crying all the time, but for me, it’s not. Yes, I am often sadder than I ever have been, but the feeling is indescribable. I feel numb, I feel nothing. I feel like my body is grounded on this earth but my mind and soul are up in the air, unattached. I can’t grasp a hold of my thoughts as they have taken over and it’s impossible to shake it off. I don’t know if this is how everyone with depression feels, but for me, this is how it is. Even on my good days (or good hours), I am happy but not the happy I used to feel; it’s a different kind of happy, a bit fake or rehearsed. I still feel slightly distant even though I’m enjoying myself. It’s tough to enjoy myself.

When I’m “sad” and physically crying, I’m not crying because I’m caught in the dark box. When I’m stuck in that dark box I’m generally just lethargic, tired and isolating myself, but when I’m crying, I’m crying because I’m tired. I’m crying because my depression isn’t just affecting me, it’s affecting those around me, the ones I love. It’s straining my relationships, it’s damaging me as a person and who I used to be. I’m crying because I’m scared I will never find myself again and I will slowly lose grip of my foundation as a person. I’m crying because I feel like a burden. I cry because I’m over pretending to be happy and putting on a mask when some days all I want to do is lock myself away. I’m crying because I’m reflecting on how I was feeling when I was in that dark box and how it was so difficult to come back from it and burst out of that state of mind. I’m overthinking and my thoughts are tiring. So when I’m crying, don’t be too concerned. Yes, I’m sad, but I’ve generally just climbed out of that dark box and I am trying to process my thoughts and grip onto my mind, making sure it doesn’t slip back away…

The dark box is a very dark place. When I’m locked in here, this is when I feel my worst. You may look at me and think I’m just a bit quiet, or tired so I’m laying in bed — and I’m not crying or upset so surely I am fine – but this is my scariest state of mind. The dark box is isolating, it’s lonely, and when I drift into this dark box something inside here takes my mind, leaving my body crammed up with no light. It takes my mind elsewhere, not giving me any control over it. The more I fight to bring it back and grab a hold of it, the further it slips away, so I can’t fight it anymore. The second I stop fighting it, the depression takes over. All I can do is lie in bed. It’s difficult for me to make conversation. It’s difficult for me to eat. It’s difficult for me to get up. It’s difficult for me to focus. As this may be seen as me being lazy, it’s not. My mind is elsewhere, like I said — unattached from my body, so everything feels a hundred times harder than what it should be.

I feel like I have nothing to look forward too. I know that sounds “crazy” — of course I have a future — but when I feel like I’ve been living the same day over and over again for months, I’m tired. I feel like I’m wasting my days away. I don’t want to live like this — I want to be happy, I do — it’s just so hard. I can’t see the light; this tunnel feels like it’s never-ending.

I can’t focus. Every time I try to focus my mind and thoughts on something, I drift back away. It’s a struggle just to get my mind to stay on task.

I am not coping as well as people may think. It’s getting tougher and tougher each day. It’s getting harder to just get on with things. I used to be able to shove the depression aside and fake a smile but lately, it’s taking over. It’s getting heavier, like a constant weight I have to carry around. I don’t want it there. I hate feeling like this. I’m becoming so frustrated and angry because all I want to be is happy, but something keeps stopping me. I’m fed up.

I hate asking for help; I hate admitting when I’m in a dark place because then I feel it doesn’t just impact me, it impacts those around me. Why should they have to listen to my shit? They didn’t ask for this. But then again, neither did I. It’s just easier sometimes — keeping my thoughts to myself. If I told them every time I was feeling low or having dark thoughts, I feel like they would get sick of me. So, I feel I’ve got to try and deal with this on my own. I can’t drag them down with me.

“Why are you sad?” “What’s wrong?” — these questions are so hard for me to hear. I know they care but I don’t know what’s wrong, I don’t know why I’m sad; I feel as if there is something wrong with me. I shouldn’t feel this way, everything in my life is great, but I am still stuck in this dark place, just fighting and struggling to get out. Sometimes no words are better, but then sometimes I want people to say “I hope you’re OK.” Sometimes I just want to be hugged, and other days I want to be left completely alone. I know, how confusing. I don’t really know what I want and when I want it. I just need help.

I’m always tired; even when I do manage to get a good night sleep, I wake up tired. It’s a different kind of tired, it’s exhaustion. My soul is tired and no amount of sleep will fix it.

It’s with me everywhere I go, there is no escaping it. These monsters live inside my head and there is no escaping my own mind. And sometimes, I may look and seem fine, smiling and talking, but deep inside my thoughts is nothing but darkness. Even on my “good” days, it’s there — it’s become a part of me now, so how do I get rid of it? Even when I am doing good, my mind still wonders when my depression will take over again.

I never expected to go through something as tough as this; I’ve always been the loud, outgoing, fun person and in an instant, it all changed. How could this happen to me? How could I become so “damaged” so quickly?

I feel like no one understands the hell I feel inside my head. I’m so tired, physically and emotionally. I’m tired of putting up a fight; I just want to close my eyes and wake up months or years later and this will all be gone. These demons are overpowering; someone please let me out of this box.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Favor_of_God

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When You Lose Interest in Everything You Used to Love

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When I was 3 years old, my mother put me in dance class. I loved it more than I had ever loved anything in my entire life.

I took lessons one hour once a week.

Until I was about 8.

I took lessons two hours once a week.

Until I was about 12.

I took lessons three hours twice a week.

Until I was about 15.

I switched dance studios. I took lessons four to six hours twice a week.

Until I was about 17.

I switched dance studios.

I quit.

When I was in the sixth grade, I signed up and joined band class. I loved it more than I had ever loved anything in my entire life.

I had class one hour two times a week.

Until I got into eighth grade.

I had class one hour every day of the week.

Until I got into ninth grade.

I had class two hours every day of the week.

Until I got into 12th grade.

I had class three to four hours every day of the week.

Until I decided to major in music my first semester of college.

I had class over eight hours a day every day of the week.

I had lessons once a week that lasted an hour.

I had band two hours a day every day of the week.

I had piano lessons three hours a week.

I had theory five hours a week.

I quit.

When it was my second semester of college, I changed my major to education. I loved it more than I had ever loved anything in my entire life.

I had class five to seven hours a week.

It was easy and more exciting.

Until my second week back.

I wanted to quit.

After losing interest in all of the things that used to bring me so much joy, I sit here and don’t know what else to do with my life. I don’t love it more than I have ever loved anything in my entire life, and it makes me feel like I’m lost.

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Thinkstock photo via Jelliclecat

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When the Waves of Depression Make You Exhausted

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I have experienced depression on and off for a period of about six years. It is one of the darkest and loneliest places to be. For me, depression is not feeling “a bit sad” after a fallout with a friend, or having a week of wallowing after a breakup. Depression is when I no longer recognize myself; it takes over and consumes my whole being. It becomes so toxic and almost poisons everything around me, including my relationships. It is one of the worst things to experience, but is also heavily misunderstood.

One of the most irritating symptoms of my depression is fatigue. No matter how little or how much I sleep, I still feel exhausted. This is mainly because of the emotional turmoil going on within me even when I am “resting.”

What is more exhausting are the ups and downs; feeling like I’m getting better and then getting hit by another wave of depression. It’s believing that there is an end, and then realizing there might not be one.

I’ve struggling with this mental illness for quite some time, and unfortunately, I still can’t say if it will go away forever. I really wanted to believe that it did. There have been long periods of remission that have made me believe I had overcome depression for good. I even forgot what the darkness felt like. But I did end up having another depressive episode.

When I get hit by a wave of depression after a long period of remission, I remain in denial for a while. I don’t want to believe that it’s back again. I keep myself busy and tire myself out so at night I just sleep and have no time to think about the possibility of being ill. I withdraw from friends so I’m not faced with their looks of pity when they realize something is up.

I realize my depression is back when I start to feel a deep sense of loneliness and I can no longer relate to the people around me. I want to reach out for help, but how can I burden them with this all over again? So I recoil into my mind, which makes the depression surface even more.

For me, depression is not just a bad day. It’s an illness and it can be one of the most tiring things I’ve experienced. When I finally confront that the depression is back – fatigue hits me the worst. I don’t have the strength it takes to fight this illness. I don’t have the energy to “think positively.” I struggle to pray and I struggle to interact with family and friends. I just want to sleep all day until the cloud of depression passes.

I get so exhausted. I get so tired of fighting.

But I have to keep fighting, I can’t give up. To anyone struggling with depression, you can overcome this. If all you did today was shower and change your pajamas – celebrate it! Take it one day at a time and keep fighting. When you have a period of remission, savor it and enjoy every minute, but don’t live in fear of the cloud returning — don’t let depression win.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via jacoblund

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How Depression Affected My Love of Sports and Fitness

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This time two years ago, if you couldn’t find me in the gym, you’d find me on a sporting field — any sporting field for that matter. My whole life revolved around sports and fitness. My weekends were filled with sports. I travelled far and wide just to play one game and I took any opportunity when offered a representative spot.

And slowly… it was taken away from me. The thought of joining a sport again terrified me, let alone having to leave the house to go to training two days a week and then actually play a game one day a week. The thought of going to the gym was more of a chore and a nuisance than it was a joy.

Three years after dropping sports and three years after moving away from home, I put on my “big girl pants” and I joined two sport teams. (Yep, you read that right, two!) I joined a league tag team and I also found a women’s soccer team.

I was excited, nervous, scared, anxious and ridiculously overwhelmed.

How did I used to enjoy this? was my main thought during preseason training.

Season started, and my first games were exhilarating, I felt like I was finally back again.

However, from then on, my heart was not in the games. I did not love the games the way I used to. I didn’t put the effort in I used to and the thoughts of training made me more anxious than ever. I took everything to heart. Everything said to me on the field I knew was just normal “sports talk” I stewed on until the next game. I went home and cried most weekends because I felt I was never going to be good enough, or the person I once was. Unfortunately, I probably never will be that person again, but I will find something I love so much again one day though!

The good things to come out of this were the friendships that I made. Being in a group of girls that make you laugh, understand when you just aren’t quite right and always feeling welcome is something I am thankful for.

Depression took away the one thing I never thought would be taken from me — my love of sport and fitness. Depression is not a choice, but it is part of who I am and I have accepted that.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Katerina_Andronchik.

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Black and white photo of Kesha from her music video

Kesha’s First Song in 4 Years Is an Anthem for Those Fighting Depression

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Kesha is back after a lengthy legal battle with “Praying,” her first song in four years. In a post written by the singer for Lenny, Kesha shared how depression, anxiety and a “relentless” eating disorder inspired her latest song.

“‘Praying’ was written about that moment when the sun starts peeking through the darkest storm clouds, creating the most beautiful rainbow,” Kesha wrote on Thursday.

“There were so many days, months even, when I didn’t want to get out of bed,” Kesha said, describing her depression symptoms. “I spent all day wanting to go to sleep, and then when I did fall asleep, I had horrible night terrors where I would physically cry and scream through the dark. I was never at peace, night or day.”

The singer also described how she came to realize she needed help:

I know that I was never abandoned by my fans, my animals, or my family, but when you are depressed — really, truly depressed — you feel like you have nothing. Even having my kitties sleeping next to me in my darkest of hours couldn’t bring me light. It is in these moments when even the most cynical among us are forced to turn to something other than ourselves — we turn to prayer, or something like it. You look past your shame, past your desire to hide, and admit you need help.

Kesha has long been open about her experience living with mental illness. In May, the pop star shared an essay with Teen Vogue about how social media has affected her mental health.

“It became a vicious cycle,” she wrote of reading hurtful comments posted online. “When I compared myself to others, I would read more mean comments, which only fed my anxiety and depression.”

“I hope this song reaches people who are in the midst of struggles,” the singer shared in a message to fans. “To let them know that no matter how bad it seems now, you can get through it.”

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