When "Living the Dream" Isn't Enough

We sat in therapy and he had tears in his eyes, "I just don't understand. We are living the dream. House, kids, everything we prayed for. Why isn't that enough?"

This will stand out to me for a long time. Not just because I saw my husband cry, which rarely happens. Not because I felt guilty or shamed in any way (I didn't at all). Not because there was an uncomfortable amount of silence following this question.

It will stand out for a long time because it helped shift my perspective massively even in the throes of depression.

Depression soaks the color up out of my life like a sponge. The days get dark and dreary and I can't shake the feeling away. Life not only looks colorless, it feels dull. I lose my energy and motivation for things, even things I enjoy. Motherhood feels like this impossible task that never ends. I feel like a failure at life.

Previous to my diagnosis of Bipolar Depression (in 2017), I would have said I was "in a funk." The problem with that is I was convinced I could just pull myself up out of that place and set my feet on more steady ground. I thought I was doing something wrong because I continued to find myself in a place of struggling, again. And again. And again.

Adding the term "downswing" to describe my times of depression has given me hope. It isn't that I am failing at life and find myself in this place of struggling that I should be able to climb out of by my own willpower and strength. I am depressed. Something isn't inherently wrong with me as a person. I still have value and worth, even when I'm depressed. The problem can be, at times, remembering this truth.

My husband is such a huge help and support to me. That is why I wasn't offended or felt shame when he asked the question above. I knew his heart was for me. But he can still struggle to understand the reality of living with the struggle of depression.

So he asked this question. And I paused. Why wasn't this amazing life that I live enough for me? The answer is simply that depression lies. Depression leaves me thinking that I'm not good enough, I'm failing, there must be something more to life than this. It steals the joy from my life.

The key here is shifting my perspective. Because my husband is right. We are indeed living the dream. We are seeing the fruit of our many, many prayers over the years. We have four children. We own our home. We are on track financially, more than we've ever been before. Life is pretty stable. There hasn't been any crazy crisis in a while. I truly can't complain right now.

But depression tricks me. So I can help remind myself of the truth in the trenches. I am living the dream even when it doesn't feel like it. And even when life is hard, because believe me we still have hard days, I can rest in the knowledge that I am right where the Lord has called me to be. I'm not doing anything wrong to bring about this struggle, this depression. And there's nothing I can do to pull myself out by my bootstraps either.

There's freedom to be found in that reality. I can't do anything to control this. I've just got to learn how to "ride the waves." This involves lots of grace for my downswings. Lots of understanding from my dear husband and children. And hope that life won't always feel like it does when I'm depressed. Trusting that eventually, the depression will lift.

Life will feel steady again.

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