When I Realised I Was Not OK.

The pressure. Sometimes it builds up. The endless to do list constantly scrolling through the mind like an eternal tele-prompter. The inner rebukes from you own self that constantly chastises your every move for what you haven’t achieved. The re-runs that continue to loop over and over in the brain’s own movie theatre of the low moments because lest I forget that I am a flawed human. Add to that the negativity swirling in the atmosphere around. It’s been stormy. Storms are fine when you are snug inside, but when you are in the middle of it, you don’t feel safe, life is uncomfortable and things you have no control over make you feel despondent and don’t make sense.

This was me. I was just battling on, trying to do it all. Be the mythical super mum, the growing blogger, the accepting friend and good Christian girl. Being a good Mum, friend, Christian and blogger are all good things. But sometimes when life gets hard, you need to pull back and gain some perspective, because sometimes the pressure builds and you start trying so hard to do it all that you suddenly realise that you’re hardly being effective at all.

I suddenly realised about two weeks ago that I was on the edge and staring down into the swirling vortex of depression. I am very grateful that I was able to recognise my locale in time to back away from the edge. It’s not that way for everyone. Some get sucked into that vortex so quickly like a merciless invisible and powerful vacuum. Others gaze into the vortex and cannot look up, cannot recognise that the hypnotic swirl of despondency is sucking them in. Some of us get the opportunity to recognise what is happening. Sometimes being on the brink, (or maybe standing in the shallow muddy waters), of mild depression is an overwhelming place to be, and even though the signs are recognised, the mist and fog that are descending blur the arrows showing the way out and you lack the energy to search for the exit.

For me, there was a moment that through the perpetual discouragement I suddenly thought. “I’m not OK.” Once I realised this I knew I needed to fight to find the path to the sunshine. My family needed me to be OK. Depression breeds sadness. It starts in one life and spreads to others. I knew I could make changes to ensure that I could face challenges with positivity and determination to succeed.

For me, I realised that I was at the brink of depression after I had gone to a friend’s house and had been negative during conversation because I was feeling overwhelmed before I left home. I also realised after I had written my ProBlogger Debrief that once again I wasn’t feeling happy and a conference that I had just loved was tinged with sadness that normally I wouldn’t be bogged down by. (The last few paragraphs of the post were the giveaway.) I have also just experienced an incident that has been totally out of my control where I have lost myriads of friends and acquaintances as they have stopped turning up at our common meeting place. (That is another story and not one for here or now.) I was hurting but by recognising that the actions of others didn’t need to affect my own happiness or my own responses, I started to count the blessings that I do have and re-gain some perspective.

Almost depressed and walking away from the brink.
Hard to believe I could come home from the Gold Coast and be feeling very low.

If you are struggling to remain positive at the moment, here are some of my tips that have helped me so that if anyone asked, R U OK?,  I can smile and say, “Yes”.

1. Look Up
Get in touch with your soul.  My faith is very important to me. It is my guiding light, so when I realised that the light was fading, I had to recognise that this was not because the light had disappeared, it’s because I was no longer looking at it, or I had to wipe the tears so it wasn’t blurred anymore. A lady in our church had recently shared an encouragement, “Things are not what they seem.” I had to realise that I had to completely place my trust that God was in control and that he is a God of goodness.  No matter what people are saying, His master plan is good and the future may have dark moments, but the light will always shine brighter then the darkness. As I looked up and a new calmness surrounded me giving me peace and clarity. I know and respect that people have various spiritual journeys. If you are not spiritual and don’t know where to start, pray your confusion to God and believe he hears you in Heaven. Then sit still and listen, you may be surprised, but most often rational thoughts and direction will be whispered into your soul. I think this is the voice of God. Whatever the case, I’m fairly confident that answers you hear will be worthy of at least further consideration and action.

2. Step Down
You don’t need to go and cancel everything out of your diary and retreat to your shell. This might not be helpful at all, in fact. However, I found that I needed to prioritise what is important and start be focussing my energies there. That is why, if you noticed, my posts on this blog have been less and a little more infrequent lately. Blogging is one of my loves in life, but it can also be a pressure. By taking a short break, I was able to remind myself to breathe and while I did I did a little cleaning in the house which made me feel better also. (I can’t believe I admitted that! Cleaning doesn’t normally equal happiness for me!) I also deliberately enjoyed my children and the relationships that I do have. I didn’t cancel all my commitments, but I slowed down and tried to stop rushing around madly and somehow in the calmness I was able to still do most things.

3. Enjoy the Little Things
Because I had been so busy, I had been pushing the little things to one side and forgetting that the sum of the little things is actually a big deal. So I started baking with the children, sitting outside and watching them play and reading a chapter (or two…) of my novel, taking time to sip the tea and contemplative silence while they children were playing happily or walking the children down to the garden and picking some blooms. Paying full attention to my husband as he spoke and enjoying each other’s company. Not only did it calm me, it calmed those around me also.

lemon drizzle loaf
Find the recipe for this Lemon Drizzle Loaf here

4. Acknowledge Your Humanity
I was trying to do it all. I’m only human. I started to get more focus when writing a daily To Do list. (Thanks Kikki K.) I wrote less on my To Do list for that day but had a list next to it for the rest of the week, so knew I wasn’t going to forget those things. The beauty was, it felt better to accomplish today’s tasks and when I did, I could cross off some of the upcoming tasks as well. I also had to admit to myself that doing less is not cheating.

5. You Deserve to Walk Away From the Chocolate.
OK, so truthfully, I’ve had varying degrees of success with this point. Normally we gals like to admit that chocolate gets us through the hard times. And it does. But then it can also cause another hard time to arise as we battle with health and weight issues. I’m trying to remind myself that healthy choices are helpful to my well being. Yes, I deserve that chocolate, but even more I deserve the apple, because after a bag of apples, my body will be happier than after the block of chocolate…or cake, or biscuits, cheese or hot chips, etc. You get my drift? But, if you really do need a hit, I’ve found that a bag of Tim Tam Chocolicious buried deep at the back of the pantry is wonderful. It’s only a little bit, they are individually wrapped, so you can resist the temptation of eating a whole pack of Tim Tams and it just gives you that moment of indulgence to continue on life’s merry way. Because life is merry, the bleak moments don’t need to last forever.

Combat Depression by taking time to smell flowers

Have you ever suffered depression? Did you recognise the signs? What do you do to pull yourself out of despair if you are feeling down?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT (I Blog On Tuesdays.)

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  1. I love your honesty Caitlin. I love your tips too. I think you are amazing at what you accomplish with a bigger family. I’m gonna keep you in my prayers. Be encouraged that God sees your heart and knows exactly how you feel. Spend time with Him and see how better you will see your world. Bless you gorgeous girl. X

  2. The biggest hugs coming your way. I hope you have eased the pain, and I promise you that it gets easier. Sending the best vibes your way. It’s a horrible thing, the ole black dog and I have seen my 2 closest people in my life suffer. SO much love. x

  3. I’m glad you recognised the signs and have stepped back from the brink. I’ve been there, done that myself. There are so many things to do to help conquer depression, the trouble is sometimes with depression you can’t be bothered actually doing them! The word that keeps coming to my mind is LAUGHTER – maybe it’s a Word for you? Get intentional about getting more laughter in your day! lots of love and hugs xxx

  4. Oh Caitlin you are amazing for recognising the signs and doing something to change the way you are feeling. You are even more amazing for sharing it so openly here. Sending lots of fairy wishes and butterfly kisses your way from #teamIBOT

  5. I’m so glad that you were able to recognise the signs in yourself while you were on the brink. I hope that you continue to notice the signs and care for yourself. Nipping things in the bud early can really make all of the difference xx

  6. Wow I had no idea Cailtlin, but thank you for sharing with us.
    I can tell when the black dog is hunting me down these days, and manage to get on top of it reasonably quickly. God helps. I’d be screwed without Him.

  7. Sorry to hear you are feeling low but great you recognised the signs. I think, from a blogging perspective, it is common to feel flat after Problogger – I rolled into my intensive yoga training so stayed on a high but then came thumping down back at work and realising that I am not doing what I really want with my blog. Hugs and prayers to you.

  8. This is truly beautiful. Your honesty is truly inspiring and you share some beautiful ways to recognise the good and rescue yourself from your sadness. Even whilst in the middle of a depressive period you are amazing. Big big hugs to you. xS

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