Remember when you were a kid, that time you asked your parents, “Can I drive?”

Their answer was the obvious, “No.” (Or a loud, obnoxious laughter in place of an answer, if you had a dad like mine.)

Although hurtful, receiving a “no” was actually a good thing. Our parents, as harsh as as their answer felt, knew what was best for us. Putting car keys in the hands of a child would’ve been more than a threat to our lives. Eventually, they allowed you to drive, once you were of age and trusted behind the wheel. So, technically, their answer wasn’t a “no.” It was a “not now.”

I believe life happens that exact same way.

A new job, a promotion, college acceptance, a loan, new opportunities. Sometimes, we’re so eager to hear a “yes,” that receiving a “no” feels worse than a stab wound. It can crush the spirit, making people doubt themselves and lose hope.

Was I good enough?

Will I ever succeed? 

When will my time come?

We can come up with 50 reasons why we should mope around and be upset, yet never consider that it probably wasn’t the right time. Think back to your childhood. How many things did you want before you were tall enough, strong enough, mature enough, and wise enough to have or handle?

Throughout my adulthood, I’ve realized on more than one occasion, hindsight, that I wasn’t ready for things I wanted. There were jobs that I applied for, that never called me back. There were people I tried to maintain in my life, who fell off the radar. There were creative ideas I shared with various people, who never took them into consideration. But looking back, the time wasn’t right.

If things had went my way back then:

  • I never would have applied for other jobs that hired me and offered more 
  • I never would have met and befriended the new, amazing people in my life today who encouraged and supported me
  • I never would have mustered up the courage to launch my dream career as a writer

When things don’t go our way, consider that maybe it was for our benefit. If the time was right, your mindset was not. If your was mindset was right, the time was not. However you look at it, dwelling on the shoulda, coulda, woulda doesn’t change anything. Don’t allow a “no” to be your setback.

Trust that what is meant for you will come in due time. And when it does, you’ll be ready.

Many people brush off depression as if it’s something you can just “get over.”  While a physical injury or illness is treated with the utmost care and attention, it’s sad that something as detrimental as mental health is often overlooked.

Here’s the truth: Depression is an illness.

  • It doesn’t discriminate
  • It’s unpredictable
  • It’s real

Ranging from postpartum to chronic, depression is far beyond basic feelings of sadness. Emotions are temporary, and change frequently, depending on the circumstance and influence. The National Institute of Mental Health explains that depression does not work that way. Feeling sad and disinterested in life for long periods of time is a warning sign.

Hey, life happens. Trust me, I know. We go through some tough times: Death of a loved one, financial struggles, trauma, abuse, divorce, and more. Dealing with hardships and mourning are a part of life, but life goes on. Time heals, and many people are able to pull themselves together and get back on track.

For others, not so easy.

I was one of them.

A few years ago, I experienced a devastating season in my life where I could not seem to pull myself back together. Within the same month, about a week apart from one another , there were multiple deaths in my family, death of my friend’s parent, and death of an infant I cared for as a daycare teacher. I literally found myself attending funerals back-to-back that entire month, and the emotional strain was unbearable.

To add to the chaos, I received news early the following month that a close friend of mine was rushed to the ICU. He almost lost his life to undetected brain tumors and was preparing for brain surgery. I immediately began visiting him almost every evening after getting off of work, spending hours in the ICU. I realized I didn’t rest, or have the proper time to finish grieving. At my job, all I could think about was the infant. And at home, all I could think about was my family and friend. And even though I was grounded in my faith, going to church became a struggle. I didn’t want to hear the “I’m praying for you.” I was angry at God, angry at the world, and felt helpless that I couldn’t do anything.

Going to church became a struggle. I was too angry at God. . .

I’m being honest.

It’s like a switch in my brain turned off and everything shut down, like I was operating on autopilot. I felt numb, all day long. I soon began experiencing physical side effects: loss of appetite, inability to sleep, irritability with people, and broke out in hives. Everyone I encountered would mention that I was looking thinner, although I couldn’t tell. When I finally decided to get on a scale, I discovered that I dropped almost 20 pounds in less than a month. I stopped hanging out with friends. I stopped visiting my family. I quit my job. Everything just felt. . .broken.

So, how did I get out of it? I could lie and say that a few hugs and kindhearted people checking on my wellbeing played a part, but that never happened. No one knew I felt this way. It was something that I dealt with and didn’t speak on for over a year. . .OVER A YEAR.

No one wants to admit, or even believe that they’re depressed. It’s like admitting you’re weak or unable to take care of yourself. But trust when I say, depression will sneak up on you and consume your life.

Thankfully, a gut feeling (which I believe came from God) told me to seek therapy. I did, and it was the best decision I ever made. Was it an easy process? Absolutely not. It took joint effort, on both my part and my counselor’s, to reach a breakthrough: cognitive-behavior techniques, recounting childhood dilemmas, examining stress triggers, and more. After four months of sessions, one hour, once a week (and a few boxes of tissues), I started feeling like myself again.  Sometimes it takes a trained individual, outside of your family and friend circle, to really get through to you. Therapists understand how the mind functions and can strategically explain to you how and why you feel the way do.

See, the powerful thing about transparency is that it reminds us that we’re human and shows we’re all more alike than we think. No one wants to go through something alone. It’s always good to know that someone else has experienced what you’ve experienced and can relate. One thing’s for sure: self-denial is dangerous. We’ve all heard of far too many individuals, especially celebrities, who took another route to “alleviate” this intangible pain. Drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide are far too common in our society, even among the wealthy.

So, if you or someone you know is experiencing similar symptoms, I encourage you to seek help. There are people out there who love you and need you. It’s time to take back control of your life.

Jumanji wasn’t the same without you. Rest in Peace R.W. (1951-2014)

 

 

** Title image photo credit by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash.com