I wrestle with depression. I have since I was seven years old. I was thirteen the first time a doctor looked at me and told me I was hyperventilating and under thirty when another doctor told me what I thought were heart palpitations were panic attacks. I don't have Asperger's, but I had to be taught to empathize, painstakingly, implicitly, repeatedly taught. Even now, I draft something once and go back later to add the feelings. I have never been diagnosed with ADHD, but my thoughts come in a rush, often so fast I can't form sentences. I don't run around like some children, but I was never able to sit still either. I can't count the number of chairs I've broken by wiggling too much. I'm great at multi-tasking. I can't single task. I can count on one hand the nights I've fallen asleep easily.
People might say I'm just weak or it's all in my head. I know I'm not and it's not. I know these issues run in my family. I know I've passed them on to my children.
I fight these tendencies with conscious control of my thoughts, deep breathing, meditation at times, exercise, prayer and praise, lists, alarms, and reminders—more coping skills than I have time to write about.
I didn't talk about these things before my children struggled with them because I didn't want them to define me. Yes, I will most likely struggle with these issues all the days of my life, but they are not who I am, who I choose to be. I could let them carry me away, but I will not go gentle into that good night.
Some people are confused and think that a depressed person can feel no
joy. It's not true. The joy is muted at times, yes, but for me, joy is
a weapon. Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. For me, this isn't a putting on instead of but a putting on in response to, a kind of medication for, a conscious choice to fight.
So many times in life, it rains.
You can't stop the rain, but you can choose how you react to it.
You must choose to laugh or cry. I choose to laugh. Again and again, I choose to laugh.
And for my children's sake, I've decided it's time to be shameless and joyful. And that's why I published Dancing in the Rain, which is free on Amazon from Thanksgiving Day until Sunday, November 25, 2012.
Dancing in the rain tells five (hilarious) true stories of our struggles with our issues. My hope is that it shows that there is joy in parenting these children and that, first and foremost, these children are people and not diagnoses. They are full of love, joy, and creativity and fill my life with blessings every day—even the ones when we're asked to leave the store, playground, or church.
I am not ashamed of who we are. I know who we are becoming. And I am thankful I can share it.