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  • Writer's pictureDarcie @ Leighton Lane

Mourning the Loss of Yourself

sunshine on a lake

I’m having a hard time writing lately. Nothing seems to come out as articulately as I prefer. It seems a little dull – not as moving or powerful as previous writings. And it’s kind of painful to actually write.

I’m simply not enjoying it.

But you know what? That’s kind of life lately for many people – it’s just messy, dismal and anything but easy. Circumstances beyond our control have sucked the joy from the air. And the lingering droplets of joy are blocked by our face masks.

This year many are battling the blues. We are mourning the loss of what was and maybe what could be. It is a year full of tears, confusion and grieving.

Depression was just like that for me. It was like being wrapped in a thick blanket of grief. But, I wasn’t grieving the loss of a loved one. I grieved the loss of myself.

“I just want to be the old me,” I said.

“You can’t,” he responded.

The girl who loved music and dancing – I wanted her back. I missed the girl who could make anyone laugh. She was an avid cheerleader for her husband and friends. She loved being a new mom. She worked hard and played hard.

She simply loved life.

But loving life became hard.

Within the course of two and a half years I went through psychosis, three times. I suffered with PTSD, depression, anxiety and insomnia. I had over a dozen different doctors, specialists in Chicago, and stayed in the hospital with each psychosis.

I went through three different treatment plans, before the fourth one finally restored my health. With each prescription came a long list of side effects and I was susceptible to a lot of them. Then came the fun of titrating off of the medicines and enduring the side effects of withdrawal, even though it was done slowly.

One withdrawal caused severe nausea for two weeks. I would eat over the sink as I gagged with each bite of food. Withdrawal caused insomnia, suicidal thoughts and heart palpitations.

Looking back – it was all rough, but the depression hurt the most.

There were many days I thought it would never end. And I longed for what once was. I prayed for the return of my old self.

I remember watching the commercials for anti-depressants. They showed the dark cloud over the woman who is slumped over at the table or lying in the bed. She blatantly stares out windows or watches as her family engages in an activity.

Then she takes a pill and she is seen strolling through the garden. Next she is playing fetch with a puppy and running with the kids. And she's back to leading the meetings at work.

The commercials make depression look obvious and oh, so easy to fix.

If only recovery was instant -- like the commercials – without the accompanying side effects. If only depression always looked like the tell-tale signs in the commercials. We would be able to catch it right away and treat it.

For me it still looked like getting up in the morning and making sure the baby was fed and the dogs. I still took showers and put on makeup. I cleaned the house and cooked dinner. I played with my son and shared plenty of giggles. I held him close, rocked him to sleep, and celebrated when he said his first words.

We still decorated the Christmas tree and Santa came for a visit. I still took plenty of pictures and videoed those first steps. Fortunately for me, I bonded with my son. I felt the indescribable love that a mother has for her child. I know many who missed out on this bonding. I was fortunate.

I did all of this, but usually with my Mom there. I wanted to make sure my son was taken care of. She carried my burdens and filled in for my many shortcomings. She saw the ugly stuff the most.

The experts call this high-functioning depression. It felt like barely functioning.

I just couldn’t love myself, because I didn’t understand myself. It was like a ping pong tournament going on in my head. You’d win some and then lose some, but the ball kept bouncing around non-stop.

But one day, I stuck my hand straight up in the air and caught the stupid ball. God had taught me to take control of my thoughts. He provided the right treatment and the right people. He had heard my prayers and while I had to endure for a while – He eventually healed me.

It was the toughest battle of the mind – the longest days and nights I had ever endured. Nothing about it was pretty, or easy.

I prayed.

I resented.

I cried.

I prayed

I questioned.

I became numb.

I praised even though.

I didn’t eat much.

I felt hopeless.

I became a burden.

I prayed again -- every hour of every day. For months.

Then one day, He said “match point.”

butterfly and girl

My parents were right -- they usually are.

I traded in my old self for a new model, but I still love dancing and laughing. My silliness returned and I simply love life again. But this new version, she has experience.

She can tell you the days get easier and the nights become restful again. If only she could tell you when it gets better, but she honestly can’t.

Keep hanging on.

She can describe the vivid colors of light you’ll see when you emerge from the darkness. And how you will take notice of the glimpses of heaven in everyday life.

Keep hanging on.

The new self will remind you it is okay to have bad days – just don’t linger too long. She will tell you there is no shame in treatment, find what’s best for you. Don’t give up if it doesn’t work – try again.

Keep hanging on.

The new girl will tell you to get out of your own way and release control sooner than later. Give it up to Him. Trust without surrender only gets you halfway. Fully trusting with surrender brings freedom and healing.

Keep hanging on.

It’s okay to be a burden, because someone will need you later and you will know how to bear their burden even better. Accepting weakness and needing help does not change your worth. You are worthy. Always.

Keep hanging on.

She’ll say learn from my mistakes and give yourself plenty of grace and patience. God certainly does. He’s a good, good Father.

Keep hanging on.

This new girl will tell you all of the lessons unpacked from a journey in the dark.

Like, keep hanging on.

And she can explain exactly what it means to “consider it pure joy.” (James 1:2-4)

On the other side.

Just keep hanging on.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

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