Originally Published November 2017
My life is a paradox. At least it is right now. I know that if I eat healthier, go outside more, and get daily exercise, the anxiety and depression I suffer with will subside. But because of my anxiety and depression, I feel nervous about going outside, have no motivation to exercise, and lack the energy I need to prepare healthy foods. I also spend my days with two adorable energy vampires. Self-care—whether it’s writing, reading, or enjoying a good opera—usually takes a back seat. It doesn’t help that I like to be informed, but the news rarely shows the good side of the world and the bad news only inspires a weight of hopelessness. Anxiety and depression don’t just suck the joy out of life, they suck the life out of joy. In the happy moments, I think to myself, This is nice, but what bad things will happen tomorrow?
Still, despite the gloomy moments and stunted emotions, I have faith.
My life isn’t supposed to be easy. How would I grow stronger if it were? God has helped me out of darkness before and He will do it again. I am making a greater effort to pray to Him every morning and every night, and as often as I can throughout the day. I study the scriptures at least once a day and hope to create more opportunities to immerse myself in the word of God. Experience has taught me that these things will bring about a change that nothing else can.
God does not expect me to rely on my faith alone. He has given me so many insights into how my body works and He expects me to use that knowledge. I take medication daily. I set goals to eat healthier and exercise. The next step is to act on these goals, and being more forgiving of myself when I don’t meet them perfectly. When I can’t do aerobics because my children don’t want to be more than three inches away from me, I can take them for a walk. The sunlight will do us all good. I can remind myself that they will be just fine if I take a few minutes to cut up a carrot or peel an orange.
I’m grateful for the moments of light and joy, even on my darkest days. When I set down my smartphone and watch the children play together, making each other laugh. When Wolfie tells me what he has learned about the wonders of the world. When I watch Brunhilda develop new skills. When our family dances to upbeat music, whether it’s music from our own collection or a song that comes on in a TV show. When the children smile or make silly faces. And especially when Wolfie says, “Mom, I love you—so much!”
It wears me down to deal with the anxiety and depression, but, with God, I am stronger than my ailments. When I feel like I need to be in control of everything around me, I can focus on controlling my thoughts. I have complete confidence that I can find more life in my joy and create more joy in my life.