£14,000 is a lot of money. There is an awful lot you could do with it...right? But what if you had spent that amount of money and had nothing to show for it except a lot of bills, wild anxiety and an empty bank balance? You would be pretty down about it wouldn’t you? Ok, so what if spending made you feel better, and even if just for the few minutes it takes to purchase something online, you had a feeling of exhilaration and excitement enough to have a better day. Feeling fulfilled, if only momentarily, by what you had ordered or bought, and how happy you would be to receive these things when they arrived, or that amazing feeling you get when you get home after a successful shopping trip for the day. Trying on clothes you had bought and that oh so perfect pair of shoes you just had to have... because life is short right? Well for many years, and over time, I have eased my depression with this mindset. I’ve played into the hands of my mania by erratic spending...something I now know is a symptom of my depression...and a fact that I learnt about depression £14,000 and one debt relief order too late.
See, depression can and does come in so many different forms. And for a lot of people, it isn't just feeling like you can't go on...sometimes it's intense and manic behaviour like overspending,overeating, or being the life and soul of the party to exhausting extents. A lot of people hide their depression by overcompensating the good aspects like smiling and laughing through the day when inside they are at breaking point. Or cleaning obsessively, or manically redecorating like I described in my last blog. But also like the previous blog…”All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28) ‘All things’...that means the good and the bad. Even the very bad things in life get used and woven into the tapestry of our lives...to ultimately work out for good.
Author of ‘Purpose Driven Life’ Rick Warren was speaking about this bible verse in his book, and he went on to explain that life is a tapestry...and there are two sides to it. We as humans are on the underside where all we can see are the bits of chaotic wool or thread that seem to go all over the place, making no sense and looking a complete mess to us. But God is above, and He sees what a beautiful creation this tapestry is because He sees it from His perspective. And it struck me that this is what it means..that all things in our lives, the good the bad and the ugly really do weave together and make something quite exquisite. We may feel like all our problems and the awful parts of our lives that we don’t want anyone to see or know about, are the things that keep us from being who we would like to be. But actually, we wouldn't be ourselves without them.
I learned far too late about the lesser known signs and symptoms of depression, convinced that if it felt good then it must be good for my wellbeing. And thankfully I no longer have that mindset or the resulting debt. But I wonder how many people don’t discuss or share with anybody, the things that they hide behind their fake smiles and laughter...How many people feel that their ‘bad parts’ are too awful to reveal to anyone or ask for help, while they sink further into debt and depression.
God loves us no matter who we are or how awful we feel about ourselves...and He can use the bad as well as the good to weave our lives into something beautiful.
Learning how to recognise my symptoms and triggers to depression has helped me massively, and it took a long time to get the right help and support, but had I kept these things to myself and been too afraid to ask for help...there’s no telling how my life would be now. It’s so important to talk...and if you don’t feel like you can take the step to professional help yet, then maybe just confiding in a friend could be a start. But take that step...depression is too lonely a place to do it alone.
Love, Ceri. Xx