Hello, I’m Raina. I am a mother to three beautiful energetic and smart kids and a wife to the most amazing man. I love reading, learning, cooking, meeting people and spending time with my loved ones.
Life before depression
I was an active mother and lifely person. I was constantly on my feet and always happy to help people. I was in nursing school and working part time to help support my family. I am a smart, a go getter, a problem solver and a kick you know what woman. Friends and family rely on me for help in any situation, I seem to have the answer to everything. A friend once told me that I have it together, that I know what I want and how to get it. Well do I?
I became suddenly ill a month before the end of the first semester in nursing school. All the warning signs were there. Wide spread pain, insomnia, fatigue, brain frog, and all the other stuff. After seeing a dozen or so doctors, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. An illness that will forever change my life and my family’s. I could not continue my education as I was not in a state of mind to do anything, I could not even walk much more to drive to school. I worked my butt off for three years to finally get accepted into a nursing school only to get sick and not continue.
Do I have it together
My doctors did their best in explaining my diagnoses to me and even tried to help me make a realistic goal. Although I thought I had accepted my diagnoses, I did not understand them. You see, I am a go getter, a problem solver, a hyperactive active person. So yes, I can still live my previous life if I just keep pushing myself harder. After months of turning in the same circle of push harder and crash for days, I received another diagnosis, depression.
What does my depression feel like?
Yes, I am depressed and will be for the rest of my life, but I can learn to manage it. As strong and smart as I think of myself, I am not immune to depression. Even though I have the support of my family and friends during my illness, the journey still felt lonely. My husband is always helping me figure out how to manage my symptoms or take things easy to not aggravate my pain. But you see, unless you are depressed or dealing with chronic illness, you can’t understand what it’s like to live in a body that is constantly fighting to be alive.
I lost interest in activities.
Getting out of bed in the morning became a chore I had to force myself to do.
My brain chemistry changed so much that a part of me was always angry at the other part for not being strong enough to fight whatever is going on in my brain.
I became disconnected from the word and became numbed.
I felt nothing but anger, frustration, sadness, and suddenly, I understood why people would give up the fight and commit suicide.
This fight to survive is both physically and mentally exhausting, I mean sometime, I don’t even know what is going on in my brain. As a result, I can’t explain what I’m feeling to loved ones. I must survive, so can you, reading this right now.
How am I surviving my depression?
How am I surviving my depression and live a productive life?
- I got into a bedtime routine to reduce stress in the morning. This way, I’m well rested and ready to tackle my day.
- I draw strength from my beautiful kids and husband. I not only want to stay alive for myself but for these people that love me and need me. No one can love my kids more than I do, and that are worth the fight.
- My faith keeps me going. This is paramount to my recovery.
- Therapy, I know it can be difficult to talk about your thoughts and feelings with a stranger, but this is another place where I can talk and feel understood and plan how to tackle problems as they arise with confidence. It may take a while to find a therapist that you feel comfortable with, but I can guaranty you that it will be worth it once you do.
- Medications, yes, I take them. People have different opinion about them. You must do what feels right for you and do right by your health. These are not happy pills, you still need to make some changes to achieve your goal.
- Optimistic approach, I focus on the good in any given situation and see the bad ones are learning opportunity.
- I learned to communicate with loved ones about my needs, I am assertive and not aggressive.
- I surround myself with supportive friends and people that accept me with my flaws.
- Say no, I learned to say no to people and not feel guilty about it. This was a difficult one as I have lived my life saying yes without thinking of the impact it will have on me. I tend to overload myself with work.
Letting go of Perfectionism
- I let go of the perfectionism in me and learned to make realistic goal that I can achieve within a reasonable time frame. For instance, my house cannot be spotless with three little ones, but I can clean it to the best of my ability.
- Breathing exercises for 15 minutes three times a day keep me calm throughout the day.
- I take a walk couple times a day for 20 minutes and do some stretching morning and evening
I understand the challenges of depression and how difficult it is to see past your sadness and anger. But know that you’re not alone and seeking help is not a weakness but rather a strength. It takes a strong and smart person to acknowledge that something is going on with them and seek professional help.
About the Guest Contributor
Raina is a psychology student who understands the importance of caring for mental health. She blogs about depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, men and mental health and parenting kids with ADHD.
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