A Love Letter to My Depressed Self

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  1. M_Olive

Dear Depressed Me,

I love you. But I haven’t always loved you like this. I used to struggle with accepting who you were. I used to love you partially—with some reservations and hesitancies. I used to dislike you. Resent you at times, even. But my love for you is different now. It’s deeper and fuller.

It’s been a journey, of course. I’ve had a lot of help along the way. God, in his grace and mercy, has brought a lot of healing to me in this process. Much of it has been through other people: my husband, our family, my counsellor and a handful of friends.

Because of you, I am more grounded in where my identity and value lie. Things you feel ashamed of, such as your inability to get out of bed some days, or your lack of productivity, have forced me to examine whether my worth comes from how much I can do. You have pointed me to the truth that Christ says I am valuable. And that’s that. You’ve taught me how to live in that truth.

Your limited capacity has been the cause of some angst for me. Your neediness has pushed me to ask for help. It’s been a struggle to put aside my pride and experience the beauty of accepting help from others. To truly live in community. To be seen and to be known. You’ve shown me that it’s okay if I can’t do it all myself. That there is grace, even for me. And that we all have our turn to be carried.

In the process of figuring out who you were, I had to seriously consider who I was made to be. I was reminded afresh that I must feed my creative spirit with regular times to paint and write—even if it means scheduling it into my calendar as if it were a work project. I also rediscovered the calming effect that putting jigsaw puzzles together has on me. And the energizing effect Zumba dancing has.

Not only have you reminded me who I am, you have given me the permission to be myself. This is perhaps one of the biggest gifts you have given me. You gave me the time and space to explore what it means to practice self-care. You taught me how to give myself permission to say “no” to things that don’t give me life and to say “yes” to the things that do. What an incredible gift you have given me, and my children—to see their mother being attentive to her own needs and honouring them. I pray that they would grow up to extend this same permission to themselves.

You brought me to places so emotionally dark and difficult. In doing so, you gave me a glimpse into the grief of the world. I see people through a different lens now because I know what it’s like to be fighting an invisible battle every day. I hope I have become more compassionate and empathetic because of you.

I used to watch my mother make wedding cakes. She would cut pieces of wooden dowels and insert them into the bottom tier of the cake so the weight of the top two tiers wouldn’t crush it. In a way, all these gifts you have given me are my hidden pillars of support. Even when other storms come and I find myself in dark places again, I will be stronger because you have given me these gifts.

You have been instrumental to me becoming who I am today.

So, thank you. Thank you for being the catalyst for a more grace-filled, gentler, whole-hearted way of living. Thank you for highlighting to me who my support network is. I am more confident knowing I have these people to do life with. Thank you for showing me that I am stronger than I think and braver than I’d imagined.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for being weak and weary and despairing and needy. Thank you for showing me that these things are not to be feared. That there is no shame in being human. Thank you for teaching me a fuller, more complete understanding of love.

You. Are. So. Loved.

Xoxo,
Me

______________

About Olive:

Olive headshot copyOlive aspires to be a conduit of grace, rest and beauty in this hurried and chaotic world. In an ideal day, she would paint, eat chocolate croissants and take lots of naps. In reality, she’s primarily occupied with her two lovely little ladies, Alena and Kayla and making sure her husband, Tim, does not have to eat McDonald’s too often. She has co-written two books with Tim and takes breaks from the little people by working on websites with their small company, Coracle Marketing.

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  • HeleneBurns

    Thanks for sharing your heart and your journey Olive… grace, grace. xoxo

    • olivechan

      Thank you for reading, Helene. Always more grace. xoxo

  • Yes, this has been my experience as well, gaining compassion and empathy for others in their dark times, because we remember what it is to be mired in the pit. Blessings to you as you share this message of hope.

    • olivechan

      “Mired in the pit,” describes it so well. Compassion and empathy are such gifts to one who is suffering. Here’s to being more like Jesus. Xoxo

  • Giving ourselves grace is so important. Blessings!

    • olivechan

      Indeed! Blessings to you as well, Alina!

  • Roos Woller

    Thank you for sharing this is so important and true “…have forced me to examine whether my worth comes from how much I can do. You have pointed me to the truth that Christ says I am valuable. And that’s that.” So good!

    • olivechan

      It’s so easy to forget that core truth about ourselves, eh? I’ve had to remind myself multiple times today already. Thanks for reading and cheering me on, friend! xoxo

  • cjdeboer

    Wow, Olive! I wish I had been able to write something so raw, honest, self nourishing and perceptive after going through my own depression. I’m so glad that something so dark has led you to such a beautiful place of wisdom and self love. xoxox

    • olivechan

      Oh Claire, it’s not too late for you to write yourself a letter too. 🙂 I’m grateful that redemption exists. xoxo

  • I LOVE the contrast of Jigsaw puzzles vs. Zumba. How wonderfully eclectic and fascinating you are!

    And I love the imagery of the wooden dowels hidden in the bottom tier of the cake so that the top tier won’t crush it. I’m going to remember that! Our inner strength hidden in the recesses of our being.

    Thank you for letting us into your journey of healing, self-discovery and love

    It makes me feel less alone.

    Journey on, friend.

    Much love,
    Tina

    • olivechan

      Thank you, Teen. I had hoped that sharing this would mean at least one person would feel less alone. Thank YOU for journeying with me. <3

  • Love the humane, kind voice in this post. Bless you for sharing.

    • olivechan

      Thank you for reading and for commenting, Ganise. May you be blessed today with the awareness of God’s kindness and gentleness toward you.

  • Harjeet Sandhu

    Olive,

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    I struggle with depression too and the hardest thing I had to do was to learn to be compassionate and empathetic with myself. I find it easy to be compassionate towards others, but have always been hard on myself. I learned to tell myself it’s ok to get out of bed a little later and to let go of some of my perfectionist tendencies.

    Your words about it being an “invisible battle” really resonated with me. It reminds me of the up hill battle I am challenged with every day. I know we have to keep climbing this mountain that nobody can physically see!

    You are so loved! Harj xoxo

    • olivechan

      Oh Harj, I so get that. It’s much, much easier for me to be compassionate toward others. I’m very glad you’re learning to let go of some of your perfectionist tendencies. You are so not alone in this!

      Here’s to being recovering perfectionists and people more deeply formed by grace. Xoxo

  • kristen gunning

    Thanks for sharing! I am learning that embracing our vulnerability, and finding self acceptance really is the answer! Beautiful piece that so many of us can relate to!

    • olivechan

      Thank you, Kristen! “Embracing our vulnerability and finding self-acceptance”… such huge lessons! And such vital parts to being whole. Blessings to you!

      • kristen gunning

        Thank you.

  • I find it so beautiful that you have allowed Depression to teach you, Olive. That you have allowed it to speak to you and remind you to paint (YEAH!!!!) and be kind to yourself and go to zumba. To learn to love yourself. This sounds like transformation.

    Beautiful.
    xo

    • olivechan

      I am indebted to several people in my life who have guided me toward learning these lessons. But yes, transformation! Thank you, Idelette, for encouraging me and supporting me. May we be drawn ever deeper into the Love that transforms us. Xoxo

  • Kristy

    I’m inspired by your ability to learn so much from a difficult time. Your view of this situation is such an example to me. I can’t imagine what an example it’s been for your daughters.

    • olivechan

      Thank you for your kind words, Kristy. My dad says there’s always something to learn. Blessings to you!

  • Megan Gahan

    I have never described my experience with post partum depression as a positive. It was always something taking away from who I am, taking away from my kids, taking away from my marriage. I never saw it as something teaching me to accept myself, to give myself grace, to love free of the expectations of productivity. At least, I never saw it that way until I read this piece. This piece was like being wrapped in the coziest, warmest blanket. You can’t help but exhale and settle in. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being brave. I am so very proud of you and so very blessed by your words. xx

    • Oh Megan, you and me both on the journey of learning to love and accept ourselves. Thank YOU for your companionship and for affirming that I am enough. You are so loved! xoxo

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    This is so encouraging. Thank you Olive.

    • olivechan

      Thanks for reading, Nicole. Grace and peace to you. <3

  • Alexandria

    Wow. This letter reminds me that some of the best aspects of life come from where we let our weakest or most broken parts of ourselves be seen. Your words remind me to be more loving and grateful for those aspects that bring greater wholeness.

    • “Some of the best aspects of life come from where we let our weakest or most broken parts of ourselves be seen.” Yes! So counter-cultural and counter-intuitive, even. But so true.

  • Alia_Joy

    Thank you for sharing this tender post. I write a lot about depression and bipolar disorder and on the bad days it’s hard to imagine anything good could come from so much despair but I agree with what you said about identity and value. There’s something that is distilled during seasons of depression and it brings the gospel to life in a way that nothing else ever has for me. The truth of our poverty and weakness and the grace that makes it ok, better even, to come empty and be filled. Beautiful words. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of your work.

    • Oh yes. Coming empty isn’t easy, but it does bring the gospel to life like nothing else, like you say. Thank you, Alia. Now I want to read all your writing too! Blessings on you, sister.

  • Saskia Wishart

    Stunningly written dear Olive. Thank you.

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