All my life, as far back as I can remember at least, “The Yucky Feeling” has been with me more often than not. As a child, people would tell me “you’re too sensitive”, and I would cry. A lot. I would yell at my mom, say hateful things and feel incredibly guilty all at the same time. I was angry. My environment gave me reasons to be angry.
The first time I remember crying uncontrollably was in the 2nd grade. In Mrs. Morrow’s class, I had my first what I now know to be panic attack. AKA emotion vomit. As soon as I got to school that day, I began to panic and beg for my mom. I cried, no, I bawled in the hallway. My mom ended up coming up to the school to comfort me because I was literally in hysterics. My wonderful 2nd Grade teacher was such a blessing to me during that time. I was messy, goofy and had terrible handwriting…a 2nd Grade teacher’s nightmare. I was a daydreaming, head in the clouds kind of girl. I thought surely I was born into this world to make it a better place, or become a rock star and open for New Kids On The Block. ‘Lots of confidence, and a sassy little attitude to go with it. I was precious. No, seriously, I love that little girl. She inspires me. Quirks and all.
Mrs. Morrow, if you’re reading this, first be proud that I know how to spell “you’re”. 😉 Second, I want you to know how much you meant to me. You were my “At School Mom” and that’s something I’ll never forget. I hope children who suffer from mental illnesses get someone as amazing, patient and loving as you. 😘
My parents had a rocky relationship. As long as I can remember, there was always tension in our home. In some of my earliest memories, I remember being able to pick up on emotions and how to read a room. I learned how to adapt and change who I was to please a person/people. Eventually, I shutout the real Carolyn. Unless I was having a meltdown. Which happened often. That was the real Carolyn crying out for help.
Please jot this down, “Children who seem the most unloveable, need love the most.” I saw this on a Facebook post. It’s so important to love the little stinkers. That’s what I call them. They’re trouble makers, but they’re also clever. They act out, but deep down they’re some of the most compassionate people in the planet. They need a kind person who understands their tiny but beautiful little brains. Who has compassion for them because 9 times out of 10, they’re carrying a major load that isn’t even theirs. Be the adult who cares, loves, and doesn’t judge.
As I grew, “The Yucky Feeling” never really went away. The Yucky Feeling got its name when I was about 8 years old. My mom was driving my sisters and I to our Grossemama and Grandaddy’ house for dinner one evening. It was in the winter or fall because it was pitch black outside. My stomach hurt and I was just plain old nervous. I told my mom I thought I was sick. What she didn’t know was I was actually scared I had a major disease and I was dying.
I was sick, but I wasn’t dying. That day The Yucky Feeling got its name. She asked me if I wanted my Uncle, her brother who’s a doctor, to give me a check up. I immediately declined. NO WAY I’m gonna talk about this out loud, that only made me more upset because I didn’t have the right words to describe it and it made me seem kind of crazy.
So Yucky Feeling AKA Anxiety and I were formally introduced.
Depression and I weren’t introduced until my teen years. By 16 I stopped caring. I literally told my mom that if my sister got hit by a bus, I wouldn’t care. I shut my emotions off. By this point in my life, my parents had divorced and remarried. We moved from Austin to East Texas. Lufkin to be exact. I started 8th grade in Lufkin. Lufkin is where my dad grew up. He had friends alllllll over town. He was known as being a bit of a little stinker himself.
We were a happy little family again for almost 2 years before all hell broke loose. Money was tight and the tension was back. My anxiety hung in there with me until I was almost 17. It passed the torch to Depression after my parents divorced again.
Depression didn’t get a name until very recently. It’s crazy how many lies I believed about myself that keep that nasty little cloud hovering over my head. For most of my life I believed I was lazy, ugly, fat, dumb and had nothing to offer this world. I had some hope because of the people I hung out with. For the most part, they were worse off than me. They had children in their families who called their grandparents Mom and Dad. Severe mental illness in their families, secret adoptions, suffered tragic losses like death by suicide, and had children themselves. I had compassion for my friends but the compassion I had for them, had somehow skipped me. I’m learning now about codependency. How I tend to focus more on others to avoid my own pain and issues.
Examples of my depression were so obvious to me now looking back. Some days, I just wouldn’t get up for school. I’d lay in bed and sleep, calculating in my head how many unexcused absences I could have before I’d get Saturday school. Eventually, I stopped caring about that too.
My mom, 2 sisters and I were living in a 2 bedroom apartment and I shared a room with my MOM. Every 16 year old’s dream right? At this point I started skipping school, smoking weed regularly and I unwillingly lost my virginity. I can remember my exact thoughts when it was over. “Well, you’re officially a slut now.” I didn’t really go up from there. I spiraled, dropped out of high school, got kicked out of my house, moved in with a bunch of guys. I was raped by two of my friends. Since I was already a slut in my mind, I also slept with my best friend’s boyfriend. A trend I seemed be starting since it was my OTHER friend’s boyfriend who raped me. I had sex with two different guys the same night and guess what, I got pregnant. Yes, I had no clue who the father was until my beautiful boy was born. By the way, they both bailed.
After my sweet kiddo was born, my depression got deeper and deeper. And The Yucky Feeling” started to return. I started having panic attacks again. I had one in the grocery store parking lot. Couldn’t even make it into the store to get my baby food. I was sure I was going to vomit, but I willed myself through it. I also had a very intense fear of throwing up. I wouldn’t know how bad that would effect me until later. It just became another quirk. I pushed it aside because it was irrational, weird, terrifying and a monster I didn’t want to face.
My baby made me think outside of myself for the first time. I was totally suffering from Post Partum Depression and didn’t even know it. My obstetrician prescribed me an antidepressant and it was just enough to take the edge off, but I definitely needed more.
When I began to realize the obstacles I was going to face, my self confidence began to rapidly decline and I dropped out of community college. I was so ashamed and disappointed in myself. I gave up. For almost a year I stayed in that place. I broke up with my boyfriend and gave all my attention to the one thing that made me smile. My adorable baby.
I loved him, and I knew I couldn’t do this parenting thing alone. I was terrified of screwing him up, of being what my grandparents and family said we’d be. He’d be a bratty kid and I’d be a lazy mom. The only one who had some measure of faith in me was my Dad. Weird, cause before I got pregnant, we weren’t exactly on speaking terms. So, I prayed. I asked for help, said I was scared and was ready to turn it all over to Him and do it His way.
That’s the first time I really met…
Immediately after I prayed, I had a good cry and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t cry myself to sleep. I was still scared, still sad and depressed. But I had hope. Someone to cling on to. I began to stand up for me and my son. I broke it off with a toxic relationship and just had fun with my family.
I got reacquainted with someone I had briefly met before. When I met him the first time, something in my spirit told me he was special. We had an immediate connection and quickly became friends. I told my mom I was going to marry him and we hadn’t even started dating yet. You could just tell he was a good man. An honest person who had integrity. If he said he’d do something, you bet your hind parts he’d do it. He’s still that way today. <Insert heart eyes here.>
I knew what I had to do though. I couldn’t trust myself and I didn’t know if all of this was in my head and I was being stupid again. So I asked Jesus to take it and wanted to know if he was the one. I sobbed but I willingly let go. We’ve been married 17 years now. I think I have my answer.
We’ve been through hell and back together. Jesus gave me such an incredible gift. He fights for me, even when he doesn’t understand what the hell’s going on with me. He asks God for more love for me when I’m being a little stinker. Thankfully those days are now behind us. Whew! Jesus has used this man to show me what he looks like.
Eventually I realized that even those most amazing gift from God would come with flaws. Because he’s human, and he has his precious little quirks too. Our daughter is his clone with the quirks. Which makes me love him even more.
Jesus has shown me its ok to trust again, it’s ok to be vulnerable, authentic. It’s ok to not be ok. He gave me promises that directly combat my anxiety and depression. He has given me life in places that have been dead for years. He has given me so much hope. Some days it’s hard to receive it, but knowing it’ll be there when the depression attacks, and waiting for me when I’m able to reach for it again helps me hang on. He’s provided for our family in incredible ways, tons of Because of Jesus stories. He’s shown me glimpses of my future with him and reignited my passions.
Jesus also introduced my to…
It started with a question from Jesus. “What’s Your Favorite Color?” Something I had a script for. “Oh! It’s green. And sometimes blue.” Was my wrote answer. Those were my parent’s favorite colors, so I just agreed. I never even realized I had specific preferences, likes and dislikes. Remember, I can read a room, I got so good at it, it became my identity. So I began to explore and I discovered red is actually my favorite color. Although, blue is also my jam.
Over the last 5 years I’ve been slowly getting to know Carolyn. It wasn’t until the last 3 months that I actually started to like Carolyn. Jesus showed me that my identity was wrapped up in what I do and not who he created me to be. My previous post Jesus Paid it All, All to Him I…? is allllll about that.
Anxiety, Depression, Jesus and myself all showed up together in some extremely hard battles these last 5 years, but each time I become freer, and I gain a piece of myself back. This time he has freed me from guilt, shame, lies, anger, hurt, and judgment which has allowed me to see Carolyn, love Carolyn, and accept Carolyn.
At 16 when I shut my feeling off, I thought that was the best thing to do. It was straight up survival. I literally stopped feeling. The closer I got to Jesus, the more I began to see the holes in my heart and the places where my feelings were off and depriving me of his joy. I asked him to turn them on and over the last 5 years, I have been learning how to feel again. Jesus reminded me of my request to turn them back on. He told me I didn’t need to be scared, but this was a process.
I’ve come to embrace me, all of me. The way my brain tends to feel alllll the feels of anyone anytime. I’ve learned I need medication to manage that. It’s a gift, a powerful one. I’ve learned that when I’m weighed down with my emotions, one way my brain signals me to slow down and pay attention is to demand rest and down time. I now know I need a medication to help that not turn into a major bout of depression. This also happens because he created me to feel deeply. One day, when I’m in heaven and without to limits of this wonderful human body he’s given me, there won’t be a need for any medication. But for now, while I’m still here on this earth, I’m going to take it one day at a time, with Jesus.
I’ve learned to embrace and even appreciate Anxiety and Depression. They’re signals to me that I’m taking on too much. With good counselors and now a Psychiatrist, I am finally starting to climb out of this hole.
If you’re struggling too, please know you too are special and unique. God has a plan for your struggles. Invite him in and let him help you learn how to manage it. Our brains are built to protect us. We need to let our selves know that we are thankful for our beautifully created brains. And that with help from Jesus, we can tell ourselves there’s a friend who’s going to help. He brings hope, help and grace. Nothing is too big for him to handle. DON’T give up! Someone is out there to help you. If you are close to giving up, and/or struggling with negative thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline tel:1-800-273-8255. It won’t be like this forever.