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Lessons from the Winter Blues Part IV

Hey family, 

Welcome back for the fourth part of Lessons from the Winter Blues. I hope this series has given you much to reflect on in your personal journey. Today’s lesson has required me to stretch myself in a different way. 

This episode of depression gave me an opportunity to build a relationship with my mental health.  

How can you build a relationship with your mental health, you ask? Well, let’s talk about it. When you think about your diagnoses, physical or mental, do you associate positive or negative emotions to it? How do you frame your struggles in the context of your health? Do you minimize, avoid, or lie about what you are experiencing in this context? Do you see your health in the context of compassion or judgment? These questions can definitely bring to light what kind of relationship you currently have with your health conditions.  

Historically, I have pushed through my depression cycles, kicking into this high performance/high functioning façade in an attempt to ignore my symptoms. If I just focused on doing the next thing on my list, then what I’m feeling (or not feeling) doesn’t matter, what only matters is that it gets done. It’s what I have always done, regardless of how bad the depression was. I’m not sure if the weight of the pandemic made an impact, but this time, operating that way just wasn’t possible. It is an exhausting way to live and it doesn’t lead with grace towards the only person who actually matters in the situation – me.  

I learned a gentler way of handling my depression and anxiety. My therapist asked me once what kind of relationship I had with my mental health and at the time I couldn’t answer. An honest answer is before this last cycle, it was one of shame and avoidance. I didn’t like who I was in my depression cycles, this disconnected, lethargic, disinterested person who went through as many days irritable and emotional as I did melancholy and low-spirited. It was a reality that I found difficult to face and even harder to manage in a healthy way. When my therapist asked this question, it prompted me to face some hard truths about myself and how I function in the space of my mental health.  

I had to learn to value myself in a different way and I had to learn that compassion applies to me too.  

No longer could my days be filled with expectations and to-do lists. I learn to let my day flow just as it needs to. 

Sometimes that meant a day of rest came before whatever tasks were on the calendar. Sometimes that meant choosing solace in God’s presence rather than answering that phone call or connecting with friends or family. I truly learned what it felt like to let go of expectations of others and myself, of what I needed to do, and just move at a pace that worked for me and my intrinsic needs.  

My mental health didn’t have to be a barrier to a good life. I could create a good life that supported my mental health. A life built in stillness, simplicity, comfort, and love for self. 

I learned that building a relationship with my mental health led to a better relationship with myself.  

But that’s a whole other post so meet me back here on Thursday 5/27 for part five. 

Til then, I hope this post prompts you to look at your relationship with what ails you. It doesn’t have to be all bad. Find the good.  

Remember to see yourself. 

And know I see you too.