Health and Happiness

How A Normal Gal With A Normal Life Ended Up With Depression

chris traeger

I had depression. Hard to imagine if you know me.

The above quote sums up my life during depression to a T. I love the show Parks and Recreation and if you haven’t watched it, I advise you start as soon as you’re done reading and sharing this post.

I discovered my depression when I suffered through 8 terrible months of insomnia. None of the treatments, therapy, doctor’s or online recommendations worked until I came to terms with what was really going on in my life. I was depressed. I’m kind of getting depressed just writing this honestly. I’d rather be talking about my cat or fitness or something uplifting but I’m here to shed some light on my situation that may look like the situation of many others out there. I truly think I never would have admitted or uncovered this problem without the insomnia. I think insomnia was God’s way of saying “Wake up (or stay awake all night) and figure this thing out! Something is wrong and you need to stop avoiding it!”

About 2 years ago, I got out of an emotionally abusive relationship. This relationship was a roller coaster of ups and downs. After a final straw, something clicked in my head and I remember thinking “I have a choice, I don’t have to take this, I can choose to walk away to anything that would be better than this.” For whatever reason, I decided to act on that instinct and even though my ex and I had gone through several past breakups that lasted no more than a hot minute, this one felt different.  I knew this one would last forever. I called a friend/former roommate as soon as I called off the relationship and she helped me load all of my stuff as quickly as possible into our cars and peace out forever.

This breakup was hard! This was my first relationship in my adult life. We hadn’t completely been living together but the majority of my things were at his place and even though I wasn’t ready, he was adamant about making me feel like a terrible person if I didn’t ditch my rent and roommate  before our lease was up and move in on his terms. Thank God I came to my senses before I ever officially moved in with him, deeper into a future and out of my current place. I felt crazy, I felt wrong, I felt like a failure. I went to a therapist to help get my crazy fixed and it turned out she told me I wasn’t crazy after all, just had been emotionally abused and she hoped it hadn’t completely robbed me of my confidence.

Luckily, I have never had a person treat me the way my ex did. I have dated real gentlemen in the past that just weren’t the guys for me and I come from an amazing family. It didn’t take long for me to get my strength back and start realizing how toxic and wrong that relationship was. From that day forward, I thanked God frequently for helping me make this decision and leading me in the right direction.

Life after my ex was different. It seemed so easy to connect with people from school, home college and all those lovely opportunities we have in our youth to meet people. I was alone in a new city (that I moved to for my ex) with few friends and no single guys on my radar. I hadn’t really clicked with many people in my new town for whatever reason. I had some friends that were super nice but mostly all had already started their own families, we had the opportunity to hangout about once a year. I also met some awesome friends at a waitress job I had over the summer, but everyone had a life of their own. They had families in the area, boyfriends or several close friends and many responsibilities. It was really difficult for us to get plans together.  I had been in relationships most of my life so it was strange to be single. I kept to myself and didn’t even consider dating for a couple of months (I probably should have waited longer but I was desperate for a rebound). I thought a new guy was the ticket to get me over the slump I was in. I did some online dating and got nothing out of it except probably some good blog posts for my future as FitnessHappyInMyLife.

I wanted nothing to do with my ex and was completely over him in about 2 weeks time from our breakup. I just needed therapy and good friends to bring me back to life. What I wasn’t over was the life I had imagined for myself with him. I thought my search was over and I’d be married and living in a house (not an apartment). I thought I’d be starting the next chapter of my life.  It’s so funny to look back on my mindset at that time.  It’s actually hilarious. I would have been miserable, sad and a waste if I would have stayed.  Ladies you will feel desperate, lost and confused after getting out of a long relationship. It will seem like no one can take their place. HA, once again hilarious how much I glamorized this relationship. I literally could walk out of my house right now and say “You, right there, be my boyfriend!” and there is honestly a 99% chance I’d be in a better position. I did not realize this initally. It’s so funny the pictures we paint in our heads of these relationships we stay in when we are so far from happy. I did it too and I NEVER thought I’d ever find anyone better than a boy who made fun of me, laughed at me when I cried and put me down constantly as he drank and partied with his friends. He once left me abandoned in a city by myself. But no, that could never be replaced, not by anyone. “I will never find a guy like him and feel the way I do for someone else.” I told myself. WOW! I literally have the most amazing guy right now and I couldn’t be happier. I just needed to find myself before I found him (Whoa, that’s deep, I know). It didn’t take finding my man to realize this either. I realized long before I found him that It didn’t matter if I wound up single for the rest of my life, any life was better than what I had with my ex.

I had given up a lot of who I was when I dated my ex and I didn’t even realize it. After the breakup, instead of focusing on building a new life in a new city and meeting new people, I kind of kept to all of my routines, except I had no weekend dates or companion in my typical routines. I guess in my mind I thought whatever was missing must be the fact that I had a boyfriend and now I don’t. I didn’t however want to date just anyone. I was going to be very choosy this time and find the perfect guy for me. I was however, just shocked when it didn’t happen in one week.

My friend/roommate at the time who had helped me move out met a really awesome guy. They were perfect for each other. I was excited to hangout eventually (you know after the honeymoon phase) and meet his friends and get to know some cool new people. Unfortunately, It wasn’t really a honeymoon phase. After over a year of not having a single invite out with my so-called best friend, her new man and his friends I realized I may just be out of the picture now. I took it really personal. I invited her everywhere when she was single or dating a different boyfriend. We were so close and had so much fun. After she started dating her new guy I’d ask her to hangout or go do something. If she wasn’t hanging out with her boyfriend she’d give me a simple “no, I’m not doing anything tonight.” and go to her room to relax alone. We had grown so far apart and with my busy schedule I had no time to meet new friends. I felt really alone. Like I said earlier, I didn’t really have many friends in the area and certainly not many close friends. The closest of my friends consisted of the my best friend that I was living with at the time and a couple of friends from college that happened to move into the area when they married each other. All of the other friends I had in my 3 years in the new city were friends of my ex’s and those went away with the relationship.

I was stuck in a job that was not a good fit for me and I was living in a dump because my slum-lord refused to fix things like a the bathroom ceiling that fell through from a leaking toilet in the apartment above us. Instead, it leaked on my head regularly when I brushed my teeth and went to the bathroom. Come on! You would be depressed too, just saying. They should have done a photo shoot in this scene for my depression medication. It seriously paints the picture.

I promise this is not a sob story, I’m just giving you the details because someone may relate. Just keep reading and you’ll see why it’s was necessary to give you the background!

I was stressssseedddd! I worked 2 jobs and was in grad school. I had no extra spending money and my family lived 4 hours away. I felt like I was working myself to the bone just waiting for the next 3 day weekend to hope I had enough money to spare to drive back home and see my family or friends. At first, I thought that happiness will come when I find my guy, that one I’m supposed to be with. Or, maybe it’s when I move back home? Regardless, I was searching for it and allowing it to be a destination that I didn’t even know if I’d reach.

I literally ignored all of these issues that I can look back on now and so obviously see I was not happy with. When I went to therapy to figure out what was causing my insomnia, she asked about stress and my happiness. I literally told her I had no issues in my life, I was totally happy and my stress levels were normal. I didn’t talk about feeling meaningless to my now former friend, I didn’t talk about how much work I always had to do and how I didn’t have a single second of down time, I didn’t talk about missing my family but having no time or money to go see them or being in a job that wasn’t the best fit for me. I didn’t talk about how I’d lay in bed and before the insomnia even started, I’d feel hopelessness, loneliness and desperation that I had convinced myself must just be what it feels like to be single.

It took a lot of eye-opening moments that were really uncomfortable at the time to realize all of this was not right and I could be doing something to fix it. I felt like a prisoner in my life with nowhere to go. I honestly didn’t know there was any other way. I thought this is adult-ing and this is single life. I better just get used to it.

Pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place and I started to admit to myself what I was not happy with and what I had been burying deep down, I guess, as a defense mechanism to get me through my busy days. Piece by piece I started to realize each thing that was not right in my life.

It was on a family vacation that I realized what was wrong with me. I thought for sure this vacation would be the cure for my insomnia. After laying awake all night in my bed on vacation, night after night, I was exhausted and sad. I remember being so sick of laying still (I was sharing a bed with my sister) that I decided to go for a walk on the beach. I walked until the sun came up (I actually got some really great pictures). I was so tired and out of hope. I started walking back and ran into my mom who was up getting her early morning exercise. She was really surprised to see me. I remember it took all my strength to try to fight back tears. I didn’t want her to see me upset. But, I couldn’t take it anymore. Through my sobbing voice I told her that I didn’t know what to do. It’s been months and I can’t sleep and I feel hopeless. Everything feels wrong. This was the first time I admitted to myself and out loud that I thought I was depressed. The rest of my trip went on and I forced happiness on my face the majority of the time (I didn’t want to bring anyone down, it was like the best vacation ever and I wasn’t about to ruin that). When I got home I finally found a family physician in the area who determined I was experiencing depression and anxiety. She prescribed me a low dose of lexapro and in no time at all I felt like I was back. I felt like me again. I honestly haven’t felt like this in years. My sleep returned to normal.

I had the energy and realization I needed to take action and make life better for myself.  By the grace of God, I was offered a new job that is honestly perfect for me. I made new amazing and close friends through work and other situations. I met two awesome girls that I moved in with this year into a great townhouse that does not have holes in the ceiling or a slum-lord. I met an amazing man (while I actually already knew him) but we’re dating and we’re in love and I don’t care who knows it! I rediscovered old passions I had put aside and discovered new passions and purpose that I never knew I had. Oh, and did I mention, I sleep at night!? It’s funny, it’s so easy to say the expression “When one door closes, another door opens.” When your heartbroken, lonely, broke and hopeless I’m not even sure if you know what a door is. This is so true though. So many doors opened for me. I just needed to close the door on a bad relationship. As Garth Brooks said it best…

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

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