Anxiety and depression have been constant companions throughout my life. It seemed like I always had to fight a little harder than others, but I had developed excellent coping mechanisms after years of struggle and had managed to lead a full and successful life.
In the summer of 2017, after having 3 children in 3 1/2 years and facing mounting social and professional demands, I experienced a new depth of anxiety and depression the likes of which I had never seen before. I couldn’t sleep, as panic attacks invaded my nights. I couldn’t eat, as I had lost all sense of appetite and purpose.
I remember looking at the most beautiful sunset and thinking, “Hmmm, there was a time I would have really enjoyed that.” It was as if I couldn’t enjoy anything—almost like life had lost its sweetness. I knew that I needed help and that my children needed me to be well and whole.
My husband was immensely supportive and alleviated as much of my burden as he could. I was released from all church and community responsibilities. Even though it was difficult to admit I needed help, I sought counseling and confided in trusted friends and family members. I re-evaluated many of the ways I was living my life. Perfectionism was my poison, and I had to learn to let it go.
That summer was one of the hardest of my life, but now I look back and truly am thankful for that experience. I learned to let go of others; I learned how to not just cope but truly heal. I learned that I am of infinite worth no matter how much I offer. I learned to connect with others in deeper ways and to care for myself more holistically. The other day I was outside at dusk and was profoundly grateful for the beauty of the world. I can enjoy those sunsets again.
I choreographed a dance film in response to this episode in my life entitled, “The Light that Shineth.” It is about finding hope through struggles with anxiety and depression:
Keep fighting, keep working, keep hoping. The dawn will truly come.