Prior to the pandemic, I was going through it. I was numb, irritable, and constantly fatigue. I figured something had to be going on with me physically. I went to the doctor thinking maybe I had a vitamin D deficiency or any kind of deficiency for that matter, but all the tests came back fine. Which lead the doctor to do a depression screening on me.
Mind you, although I am not practicing, I am a mental health professional by trade, you would have thought that I would have been more aware of any signs and symptoms, but I was so convinced that something was physically wrong that I didn’t think to attribute anything I was experiencing to depression. As the doctors started asking the screening questions, I fought back tears as I realized the answer to most of the questions was “yes.” He discussed prescribing some “anti-depressants” but I knew that wasn’t an option I wanted to explore at the moment. (Nothing against them, I just felt as though I wasn’t at a place that I needed medicated assistance especially after only a screening and not a full assessment). I knew something had to give, and I had to make some serious changes in my life.
I started to think of what all could have been contributing to these feelings. The main theme that kept coming to the surface was stress and lack of self-care. All my time and energy were going to everyone else but me. Between work and my family, I just couldn’t seem to find time to just focus on me. My thoughts, my likes and interests, and my hobbies had taken the back burner, and I wasn’t handling stress very well. Then, COVID hit, and we were in the midst of pandemic. I wasn’t sure what would become of it at the time. I slowly began to realize that as ugly as it seemed to the world, God, was giving us all time to get ourselves together. He shut down EVERYTHING so that all we had was ourselves and Him. Well, at least, that is my thoughts on the matter. I remember thinking and feeling like I needed a break, and BOOM, here it was. I began to work remotely, my daughter was doing virtual learning, and my youngest was no longer going to daycare. At first, it was even more overwhelming, but as the initial shock wore off, I began to settle into a routine and started using the nighttime as my “me time.” I no longer had to get up early for school, daycare, and work so I took this opportunity to stay up later than usual to reflect on me!! Besides binge watching, “She Gotta Have It” on Netflix, I began to read my Bible and just journal my thoughts. I was overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of work, parenting, wifing (pronounced-wife-ing, lol, I know that is not a word), and just life in general and couldn’t find a way to manage it all. I felt disconnected from God, it was like He had forgotten me. He just left me out here while I was struggling to stay afloat, and my faith was wavering. I was struggling to find peace. I was trying to pour out of an empty cup, and nothing was pouring into me. I had no mental strength and no energy to pull from.
The more I read and journaled, the more I recognized how toxic my thoughts were and how I had allowed my stress to change my whole spirit. I had been dealing with it all the wrong way. I was careless about what I let in my spirit, was constantly complaining, and was putting more energy into things I could not control rather than my faith. One of the ladies from my sister circle who routinely checks on me kept telling me how the devil was attacking my mind and encouraged me to be aware of my thoughts so that I can change them. After weeks, more like months, of me being intentional about my “me time,” reading the word (and praying), and just getting my thoughts out on paper, I was able to understand if I wanted to see changes in my life, I had to start with the renewing of my mind. The scripture says, “And be not conformed to this world, but be yet transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” I had to get rid of all of that negative, toxic waste that I was allowing into my mind; the complaining, the frustration, the bitterness, the lack of patience, the negative self-talk, all of the things that were contributing to my overall feelings of depression and being overwhelmed. If I wanted to be healthy, I had to take care of my mind as well as my body. They go, hand and hand. So, I started to make small changes. I made sure I did more self-care which included telling myself nice things, encouraging myself, looking at the things that I could change and changing them. I became more aware of the aura I was giving off, making sure that it was a positive one; if you didn’t match it, I would keep my distance. I reminded myself of how blessed I was to have the job that I had when people were getting laid off, left and right. I thought of how blessed my kids were to have at least one parent who can stay at home and work and be with them. I thought of how thankful I was for a husband who didn’t mind doing all the grocery shopping and errands since his work required him to be out anyway. I thought about all the people I had in my corner who see the beauty in me when I don’t always see it in myself. I started to see the benefits of everything being shut down. It forced me to have the break and time I needed to get myself together. You see, my feelings of depression came from my disconnect from God. I was trying to handle everything on my own because I thought He had forgotten about me. In reality, I had forgotten about Him. Well not forgotten, but definitely took His goodness for granted. I got lost in the ways of the world. The world around me was becoming so bitter and ungrateful, and here I was conforming. He knew that He had to shut some things down for me in order for me to reconnect with Him. Don’t get me wrong, it can still be a struggle working on this renewing of the mind thing, but thank God I am not in that “pre-COVID” headspace anymore. I can now recognize what was hindering me and make the necessary changes to fix it. So tell me, what did y’all learn from being shut down in 2020??