I’ve been writing this in the back of my mind for a long, long time. Months for certain, but probably more like years. Even now, as I finally felt the confidence and urge to write, I’m opening up other tabs and researching “lighting for ballet portraits” instead of focusing on this article. And it’s a pretty certain thing that many of you do the same thing, especially if you battle depression and anxiety and ADD. You have that moment of clarity, you feel good and you want to seize it…but then your mind starts running through all the other things you have to do and suddenly you’re in the kitchen looking for something to eat or cleaning the house because of…well, all. the. things.
In fact, this is now my fourth attempt at writing this blog since June.
I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety, and most likely ADD because of my anxiety, since I was a young child. Hidden away somewhere is a white and pink unicorn diary that my late grandmother bought for me in Florida, when I was seven, with entry after entry about how sad I felt..how angry I felt..how lonely I felt. I keep it not as a reminder of those emotions and negative memories, but to have on hand if I ever need to explain to my son someday that it is OK to feel this way, and that with hope in Jesus and our own perseverance, you survive and you DO find happiness – even if the sadness is always just…there in the background.
It’s that last sentence that brings me here. The idea that the feelings that accompany depression and anxiety are always just under the surface BUT they don’t win. The fight, though, it’s real and it’s an every day thing. And just because you own your own business or are a stay at home mom or dad or go to work 40 or 60 hours a week, depression and anxiety don’t just skip you, you know? Wouldn’t that be nice, though? If D/A actually thought to itself, “You know, this person has a business to run and a family to care for, so let’s just give her a break!” It doesn’t work that way, of course. Oh, how I wish it did.
This has been, by far, one of my worst years battling this struggle. As some of you know, I finally re-branded myself to become Tribe of the Beloved, LLC in January. For months prior, I diligently worked on my new company – on my colors and my words and my website, took classes and captured and hand-edited thousands of photos so that I might learn to be the best I could be. I purchased samples of albums and prints and wall art so that I could offer high-end products to my clients. I invested hours of my time, of my family’s time, into something that I was positive would be successful. But then it wasn’t as successful as I thought it would be, and then…depression. Combine that with personal family issues and my son’s medical issues, I went from being this excited and determined person to just, well, existing. At least, on the business side of things.
I stopped caring. I stopped posting and updating my social media accounts. I stopped seeking clients. I felt absolutely defeated. I still do. Someone without D/A might have the ability to say to themselves, “OK, ABC isn’t working, so let’s see if XYZ will.” In reality, someone with D/A probably DOES say that – I did, a gazillion times. But in the end, it’s convincing your mind and heart that XYZ is worth striving for. Because D/A tells you, over and over, that it’s not worth it. That you’re or I’m not worth it. If ABC didn’t work, then what’s the point? I’m not good enough, so what’s the point? It’s a very quick, blindsiding, snowballing effect. So suddenly there’s just this void, this very wide, very empty chasm that once filled with goals and ambition and dreams. I’ve got this new business name, I’ve got credentials and education, I’ve got at least some talent and this heart-thumping desire to do whatever I can to make families’ lives better through photographs…but I can’t do anything. I’m frozen.
Do you ever feel that way? Just, frozen? You know what you have to do, what you should do. Whether your focus is to be home and raise your kids, to run a small business, or to provide for your family through another job – you have all these bullet points in your brain of tasks and problems and solutions for the problems and you just. can’t.
You just can’t.
And of course it affects your family life, your personal life. You’re angrier than you should be because you’re angry at yourself. You’re mad that you just can’t get it right! I should be able to be successful and my business should be thriving because I had a plan and I prayed and I hoped…but instead I’m left with this heavy pressure against my chest and the constant desire to cry except the tears just aren’t there anymore. I don’t want my son to hear me yell, I don’t want my husband to have to deal with my anger for yet another day. But it’s this vicious cycle. It’s over and over and it’s…
Exhausting. It’s just exhausting.
In the end, though, I’m writing this article and I’m (slowly) trying to figure out XYZ because – and this is the truth – depression and anxiety – cannot win. We can’t let them win. Listen to me! Setbacks are not losing. My months of absence from my business was a loss but it is not losing. If I can do this..if I can finally FINALLY sit down and type these words, then that’s a sign that there is something, Someone, greater at work. And I won’t get into a whole spiel about Jesus, not this time anyway. Though, I will definitively say that He is the reason I am able to overcome, because He already overcame it all. John 16:33
So what does this all amount to? If you are in the situation that I am in, whether you’re a stay at home parent, run a small business, or are just a working parent in general – you are not alone. Depression and anxiety (and ADD) are oppressive, awful illnesses to deal with. It’s like a 24/7 guilt trip and you’re never quite clear enough on how to define grace for yourself. There will be days/weeks/months that go by when you feel frozen even though you’re very aware of what needs to be done. You will always know, during the good days, that the bad days are coming. But through it all, you’ll come out on the other side because you’re a fighter. You fight for your kids, for your spouse, for your business, and more importantly – your own life. It’s what we do.