Are you okay? Yes?
You force a smile on your face and swallow the bullshit without even a second thought. You are the rock that people lean on, you should be able to stand on your own, right?
Rocks roll downhill. Rocks can crumble and break into pieces. You are the strong one, but you are not infallible. You are the rock, but you are not invincible. You are the shoulder everyone leans on, but you are human. You will have your moments of weakness and in those moments you have to remember that it is okay to walk in your truth, that you are in need of your own rock. Your own shoulder. Your own strong one.
There is no shame in asking for help. There is no punishment for hitting rock bottom and you will not face a tribunal that reprimands you for being depressed. But I’d rather convene in coming to help you, then celebrating the life you allowed me into at your funeral, because you couldn’t bring yourself to admit that there was a pain within you that no medication could reach. I would rather you call me in the middle of the night screaming and venting than to never hear your voice again.
Last year, I hit my lowest point and had a nervous breakdown. I had pushed myself so hard through workaholism, perfectionism, a terminal marriage, shame at motherhood, etc. And through it all, I pushed through because I thought that’s what strong women do. I helped everyone, gave advice to friends, colleagues, even employees…advice that I could never follow myself. I extended a grace to others that I myself did not appreciate until life finally reached out and stopped me. A counselor told me that I had probably been depressed my entire life and now I was being triggered after having gone through so much hell. I had reached my breaking point – and I broke. At my lowest, even with two young daughters hanging on my every word, I felt that their lives would be better without me in it. They wouldn’t have to guess if their mother loved them more than work. They wouldn’t have to worry about me. In truth, I knew that the energy that fueled my depression wouldn’t die to me, it would only pass on to them. And this is a cycle I’m determined to break before that happens.
I’m not perfect. I’m not going to be loved by everyone. I’m not going to win first place every time. And I’m not always going to be the right shoulder for someone to lean on. And all of that is okay. It doesn’t matter what you think you should be doing or what you thought you’d be doing by now. What matters is that every day you get up, you have the opportunity to have a do-over. You can fix what is worth fixing and you can let go of the rest. That opportunity stops with your last breath.
Your presence is a present, it’s a gift to those of us who love you. Every breath is a blessing, even through the pain. The pain is weakness leaving the body and a reminder that you are still here. As long as you’re still here, the fight can go on and life can be the dream you want it to be, whatever that may be. Having weak moments is part of our humanity. But I’d rather you have weak moments, then no moments ever again.
So let’s try this again. Are you okay? No? Ok. Let’s fix it.