Thursday, August 14, 2014

fighting for joy

To my sweet little ones:

You are too young to understand. We live a life of privilege, a life in which heartache for you means an hour with a sitter or a misplaced toy. But this blog is my letter to recording of the things I hold dear, the things I know to be true. On these pages I try to capture the lessons I want to pass to you. So even though you are young now, you won't always be. And this is so important. It's life or death important. It's full or empty important. 

This week, a comic genius lost his battle with depression. He made the world laugh, but his world was filled with darkness. Sweet littles, please know that mental health is real. Depression,'s all real. I pray that by the time you are old enough to understand, the stigma has passed. That people will know, with certainty, that treating the sadness that may inhabit your brain is just the same as treating a tumor that might inhabit your brain. Neither are optional. Either requires treatment for your best life. But just in case people are still afraid....just in case those that seek help still do so in the shadows....

After Shep was born, things went a little haywire for me. I had this precious son, but I also had a crazy amount of change. New city. New house. Back to pumping. Feeling like a failure. And I got anxious. Really, really anxious. And then lots of unprocessed grief rolled into this anxiety ball and made it bigger and bigger and bigger. We are taught throughout life to be help lean towards selflessness. But sometimes we all need help. When your well is dry, or more accurately, when it feels and looks and seems dry to you, despite the fact that you know water is present, you have to get help. Sometimes the only way to love your family is to relearn focus on getting yourself well. Babies, I was so lucky to have your dad. He knew I needed help--more than he could give. He helped me find a professional, a counselor, to guide me back towards truth. 

You see, no matter how much I told myself it was okay, that I was blessed, that I had everything I ever wanted (literally), I couldn't just talk myself out of my anxiety. That's not how mental health works. Dad can't talk his pancreas into working--he takes insulin to "treat" his diabetes. Likewise, mental health diagnoses need treatment. It's not about being tough enough or smart enough. It's not about praying enough or having the right kind of faith. God gave us resources. There is no shame in using them. 

Here's the thing--I love Jesus. I believe Christ is our light and truth. But I know that being a Christian does not guarantee a "happy" life. Happiness is not permanent. Happiness is based on circumstances, and circumstances change. What I do believe is that we can find joy in our Lord. We can hold on to that joy and memorize the way it feels. And hopefully, when the joy feels far away and the darkness closes in, we will remember that the joy does exist. And that it's worth fighting for. 

My little ones, I feel certain that each of you will face moments when life is just too much. When these occasions arise, never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. We are not meant to do life alone, and we are certainly not meant to do the tough parts by ourselves. Please, please ask for help. From me. From dad. From each other. From anyone. Asking for help is the bravest thing you can do. And remember how much you are loved. And how great the joy can be. And when the darkness comes, as it inevitably will at some point, please fight. And know that I will always be fighting beside you.

I love you so deeply,

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