Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. ~Eddie Cantor
I can’t juggle and yet that is how I had been approaching my life lately–juggling, adding another ball, keep juggling, go ahead, toss another ball in. I can catch it, and I did, and I kept on juggling. Throw another ball in, and another, and another. I can do it. I don’t need help.
And then the balls came crashing down.
Depression is something I work hard at keeping out of my head. Out of my heart. But I felt her, I felt her familiar heavy arms, dark and welcoming. I knew she was chasing me.
Run, Girl. She said. Run, Girl because I’m coming for you.
And I ran. I ran harder. I ran faster. I ran farther. Adding to the balls I was juggling yet not really juggling, because you see, I don’t know how to juggle. I have a good life. Such a good life I was afraid to confess to anyone that she was chasing me. Why would she want me? But Depression doesn’t care who you are. What your life is like. She loves to love us all, gently putting a suffocating blanket over us to keep us quiet. Knowing we are too ashamed to admit we are depressed. That she caught us.
Some of the balls I juggled were two of my children’s health. I have been trying to find answers. Blood work. Ultrasounds. Visits to specialists. And yet answers weren’t given. Some of the balls I juggled were managing my panic attacks. I hadn’t had them in a very long time. Going through them again brought me shame. Worry.
I prayed. I continued running to God on my long runs. And I tried my best to sprint ahead of Depression’s greedy hands, feeling my heels just a step out of her reach. But eventually, the time came when instead of running from her, I threw myself back. I threw myself back in defeat, into her welcoming and waiting arms.
Hello, old friend, she whispered. She clutched my long hair, knowing the key to staying, was to get into my mind. Not my heart. And she tried her best to convince me I was not brave enough. Not strong enough. Not good enough. Not enough.
When you are wrapped in her warm blanket it gets easy to get lost there. And I let myself get tangled for a while. But I knew it wasn’t a place I wanted to stay. One day I took the twins and baby out for a walk. I was lost in my thoughts but made sure I was smiling. For them. My daughter rode her bike alongside me and looked up at me with thoughtful brown eyes and asked, Mommy, why are you sad? I asked her how she knew I was sad. Because your eyes. See. Even with a smile, children know. They know so much about their mothers; because she was mine and I was hers before I ever laid eyes on her.
It was then I started sharing. Because I didn’t want my children to see my sad eyes. First with Chris. Then with family and friends. I’m not right. I’m not good. I need help. I prayed and yet like a stubborn child, I told God: No. I don’t have time for you to heal me. Just give me a band-aid. Don’t you see how many balls I have to juggle? Don’t you see I don’t have time for it to be done Your way?
My dear friend shared a blog post with me recently when I finally confessed I needed help picking up the mess I was drowning in and these words struck me to the core:
You see, I am a doer. I am full of ideas and ways to make those ideas a reality. The temptation in that is I can become so self sufficient that I begin to lose sight of who God is. It is at this point that I need a reintroduction. I need a time out to reset my heart on remembering the character of God. The One who knows me the best AND loves me the most. Honestly. Isn’t that beautiful? The one who knows the worst things about us AND loves us more than anyone else! ~The Overflow
I’m a doer. I’m self-sufficient. And I lost sight of God’s promise. That He loves me in all my brokenness.
Slowing down is what I needed to do. Slowing down to let Him love me and all my flaws. It’s how I love my children; why did I think I didn’t deserve the same love?
Slowing down meant starting my day with morning prayer. Taking the time to read His Word and to start my day off calm instead of rushed. Slowing down meant I started breathing again. Not shallow breaths that made me feel like I was treading water, but deep breaths meant to fill my soul. Slowing down meant trusting that my children will be OK. Slowing down meant doing what my husband gently reminded me to do one morning, the tears slipped from my eyes as I confessed to him–I’m not enough. I’m not doing enough for anyone. He cupped my face and told me: Give yourself grace. Slowing down meant remembering why I chose to run an ultra-marathon for a cause dear to my heart. Reminding myself that I knew it wasn’t going to be easy–to embrace the challenges and trials instead of resisting them and wishing them away. Slowing down meant letting Him heal me His way–no matter how long it took.
Slowing down meant saying goodbye to my old friend and telling her she was never really my friend as I untangled her hands from my hair. Slowing down meant realizing it’s OK to be tired but not to let myself settle into her embrace, but instead, into His.
Slowing down meant giving myself grace and having the courage to share this with all of you.
Never Give Up,
Also published on Huffington Post.