Yesterday I was depressed I felt like my insides had been sucked out of me. I did nothing for most of the day. I didn’t eat or drink anything till after 6:30 PM when I forced myself to warm up and eat dinner. Why did I finally get up and make myself eat dinner? I briefly looked at Facebook and saw a memory posted. It was of this note I had posted on Facebook five years ago. I thought I would share the note with you. I have never thought very much about affirmations being helpful, but these affirmations empowered me yesterday. Maybe they will inspire you to write your own. Here is what I had written and what made me feel better:
When a person is depressed, they do not just feel sad. Often times they have no sense of worth, think of themselves as a failure, feel guilty, experience insecurity, and sometimes believe the world would be better off with them dead. This is how I have felt for fourteen years. I struggled to not have negative thoughts, challenged the idea that I had no worth, and surrounded myself with caring people. Still, I felt the above. There was a chemical imbalance and, while I could intellectually understand that these things were untrue, I could not experience the real truth of my life.
After all those years, I became happy, really happy. Actually, I had a hypo-manic episode and I really enjoyed it. The psychiatrist said I had bipolar disorder.
At this time of happiness, I was visiting with a friend who was very depressed and suicidal. She had lost her job, couldn’t find work, was turned down for disability, had lost her unemployment, was evicted from her apartment and had no income at all. Not all was bad. She had temporary housing with a friend, she had a bus pass and food stamps, and vocational rehab was helping.
My friend said she was discouraged and asked if there really was a reason to keep living when it was such a struggle. Many times I have asked myself the same question and, like her, had little to no hope. But this time, I had an answer. I told her the struggle was worth it. I said I had lost many things: home, parents, husband, security, vocation, dreams, hopes, and some of my faith. I had thought death would let me have peace. Then I told her that the struggle had been more than worth it because I have seen my daughters grow into remarkable persons, held my granddaughters, and was at that moment happy. I am not sure if it helped her a lot, but the litany certainly helped me by affirming where I was now.
Later that day, I was lying down and reflecting. Suddenly, I had an insight, and I am sure God gave it to me because it was so crystal clear. Not only had I survived so many losses, but I had overcome them, and I was no failure or weakling at all. I got up and wrote what I had learned about myself:
I am not weak or incapable of taking care of myself.
I am not invincible, but I can survive all sorts of tragedies.
I can lose my home, possessions, hopes, dreams, security, independence, mind, and loved ones.
I can endure intense pain, overcome deep depression, move through grief, face fears, and have my faith challenged.
There were times when I was sure there was no reason for going on, but there are a great many.
I’ve seen my daughters grow into remarkable persons, held my grandchildren, made the world a little better, and come to know a loving God.
Today, miracle of miracles, I am happy.
And there is so much more!
I affirm today as I write this blog that, even though I’m still somewhat depressed, my struggles have been worth it. And I know things will get better. I have hope. I can live my life. I can do this! I am doing this!
Rev. Mary Alice Do, who has bipolar disorder, is a retired Disciples of Christ minister and has worked 16 years in the mental health community providing recovery information and advocacy. Read the rest of her posts for IBPF here, or watch her webinar on How Churches Can Promote Recovery. She also has a blog of her life story called Journey Towards Wellness.