Hey you lovely Rags to Stitches readers! My name is Ashley and I blog over at 5ohWifey: life as a mommy and cop’s wife. I am so so excited that Alissa is allowing me to take over her space for a little bit and share a bit of myself with you. So, first, a little about me. I am amazed every day by what God is doing in my life. I am a southern girl now living in California against my will. I am the wife of 5ohHubby who is a police officer and wonderful man and no that’s not mutually exclusive. I am a stay at home mom to an amazing little girl I call 5ohBaby and she is my whole world. We have probably the cutest, ugly dog out there (5ohPup).
I try to blog about what I know. I try to keep it as real as possible. I love to blog about my faith. I blog about everything from holding on tight to my little one to the time I accidentally fed her jalapenos. I write about both the joys and the stresses of being in a police marriage. I love to cook and sometimes make up my own recipes. Sometimes I get a little crafty and dabble in fashion posts. I want my blog to be a place where we can laugh together, cry together, and just be real with one another.
But, there’s a topic that’s on my heart that I’ve never written about before because I’m insecure, I’m afraid, I want to pretend it’s not true I just haven’t gotten around to it. If you met me in real life, you’d see that on the outside, I have a bubbly personality. I smile, laugh and I try to be funny. And sometimes this is the real me.
But the truth is I struggle, and I mean really struggle, with depression.
It comes in waves. It started almost as far back as I can remember. I never really understood what it was until high school. I was a cheerleader, I had friends, I had a boyfriend, I did well in school. But I was never happy. There was always something eating away at me but I never could quite put my finger on it. I was sad. I had no ambition. I felt desperate. I would out on my daily mask, stand in front of the proverbial, and sometimes literal, crowd, with a smile on my face and a cheer on my lips. I felt like I was living a lie.
I’ve tried to fight it in every way I can think of.
I’ve tried therapy but could never really open myself up to the doctors.
I’ve tried anti-depressants but they left me feeling completely numb and contemplating the value of my life.
I’ve tried self medicating through relationships, alcohol and all sorts of other ways I’m not proud of.
I medically withdrew from college for a few semesters in the hopes of just waiting this thing out.
I’ve tried just stuffing it deep deep down and pretending it doesn’t exist.
But none of these methods worked for me. It was still a cycle. Year by year the days would get darker until it took all I had to just get out of bed. It took a lot of pain, a lot of heartache, and a lot of years to realize the only way I could get through the hard times was to lean on someone who just got me.
Now, that person is my husband. I lean on him because I just can’t do it on my own. I need to ride the wave with someone else, who even if he doesn’t completely understand, tries to. He lays down on the floor next to me when I feel like I can’t get up. He holds me when I cry. He reminds me to hold on to my friendships and to prepare myself preemptively for when the depression hits. He makes sure I talk to someone when I need to. He always reminds me that I can try medication again if I want. He focuses my eyes and heart on God. He does this because he loves me.
And because it’s not just me I need to get up out of bed for anymore.
Isn’t she the best? My daughter needs a mother who is healthy. Plain and simple. I can’t stew in my depression. When I feel it coming on I prepare myself. I make sure to make plans with friends. I take my daughter on long walks in the sunshine. I turn off the songs that make me feel like I’m starting to slip. I push thoughts out sadness out of my head instead of dwelling on them. I pray.. a lot.
I am not cured.
I am not perfect.
I am not always happy.
But I am fighting.
There is an old saying that I love and every time I think about my depression I think about this. The saying goes “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from making a nest in your hair”. For me, I realize that if I don’t want the numbness that medicine brings then I can’t help these feelings from coming. I can’t stop a thought from passing through my mind. But I can stop myself from dwelling on it, from spending all my time thinking about it, and from feeding in to it.
So that’s where I’m at today. Just now, after 27 years, able to share what’s on my heart. Doing everything I can to make sure my daughter’s world is full of happiness. And holding out hope for the future.
Thanks so much for opening up about this! I struggle with anxiety and have for years and a few months ago opened up about it on my blog and the response was over whelming. I felt like I wasn’t alone in a World where sometimes you feel like you’re the only one dealing with something. You are a strong, beautiful momma! Keep moving foward – this too shall pass! And…give your husband a big hug from all of us 🙂
you look oh so happy & pretty in the last picture with your babygirl (: I love it!!
Laurel Ann says
Ashley, I’m so very happy that you opened up to all of Alissa’s readers (I’m also one of your readers… 😉 about this because it’s more common than you would think. I struggle with serious anxiety and, as much as I hate that you’re going through it, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. WE are not alone. Just keep fighting.
Sending lots of love and positivity your way.
Once again, you’ve WOWED me with your honesty Ash. I just love your heart…really truly I do. MUAHHHHH!!!
I commend you for your honesty. I love your quote about the bird and the nest. It’s so true. I was on meds once upon a time- when I was 16…and never do I want the numbness again. Yet the highs and lows and life can be tough…and a struggle from day to day. Exercise, gardening, decorating, blogging, and being with true friends in person and through the internet help me…a ton. Off to find your blog and follow you…
Lindsay @ Trial By Sapphire says
Beautiful and honest post. I adore Ash. Been in the same boat. Meds aren’t for me. Neither is ending life. Or alcohol. Healthy lifestyle and surrounding myself with truly good people who challenge and support me do wonders. 🙂
Great guest post!
Wow! Thanks do much for sharing Ashely. I know that must have been hard for you, but it was very cool to read. Praying for you, girl!
I have told you before how much I enjoy your blog, Ashley, and now I will be a dedicated reader for however long you keep writing. Thank you for this post. I have struggled with depression for my entire life. More recently I have fought through postpartum depression and psychosis. I finally see light at the end of my personal tunnel but it’s been a long, hard, uphill, fight. Thank you for speaking up and for sharing.
Nadine in Nevada says
You are amazing. To open up your life to people who are on-line friends and strangers about depression.
I also suffer from depression and IT SUCKS! I can’t even begin to tell you when it started but I know it was before my 11 year old was born because I had to stop taking my antidepressents during pregnancy. That was a challenge for sure.
I tried counseling but – like you said – couldn’t really open up to the counselor. It’s hard to be honest with a counselor when you aren’t even being honest with yourself. I do take “happy pills” 😉 because I can’t do it alone. . .I’ve tried and it isn’t pretty for anyone. It was a long process to find a balance between the meds helping and hurting (zombie state). It also doesn’t “fix” everything. Like you, I still have good times and bad. I too can feel the dark days creeping up and try to clue my hubby in so he can prepare to be my support. I am blessed to have him. He has been there for 17+ years and I don’t see him going anywhere.
Take care of yourself and your beautiful family. Thank you again for opening up and sharing. It is always comforting to know that I’m not alone in the struggle.
Your Doctor's Wife says
Wow! That is so honest and touching. I follow your blog and just love it!
Isn’t it so amazing when you have a problem and you turn it over to the Lord it makes it so much more bearable? When I was 16 I struggled with depression and I never thought life would go on. I prayed a TON and I know that helped me so much. I was able to find better firends and find self worth in myself. I’m glad that you are able to be happy now : )
I too, struggle with depression, and PTSD, and I get frustrated, at times (read that as A LOT). Just today I posted on my blog about the changes I’m going through now as my husband has just become a police officer. He’s currently in the police academy and that is a big change for us (as I mention in my blog) and I know that only more changes lie ahead. I am 45, for pete’s sake…my life is supposed to be slowing down and settling, right? Not changing radically…but my life is the way God wants it to be…and in light of that…I’m leaning on Him to help me through the changes…I’m headed on over to follow your blog! Thanks for sharing your heart!
This is such a sweet, honest post. I love that you shared with such openness.
This is such a beautiful post. I love your honesty. Since I start following 5ohwifey just a few weeks ago, it’s been nothing but amazing, eye opening, “I can SO relate to that” posts. Thank you 🙂
Wow, what a raw and honest post. Thank you Ashley for sharing your heart on the matter… I’ve never struggled with depression but I have several close to me who do. Your words have helped me better understand what it looks like to support them. Blessing to your family, beautiful lady!
I have suffered from depression off and on since high school. It is so hard to explain to people as they don’t understand, they think you can “think” yourself out of it. The only way I can describe it is a dark cloud and no matter how much you may be enjoying yourself the darkness is still there. I take Paxil daily and I won’t go off of it. I tried a different medicine last year as I had been taking the Paxil for a long time. Oh, my, the depression returned!! I had forgotten how bad it was like. I went back on Paxil and am doing fine again. The new anti-depressants don’t make you tired and druggy feeling. I think of it as maintaining my health the same as a diabetic needs insulin. We are all different and what works for one doesn’t work for all, but you might want to try another seratonin uptake type, it has literally saved my emotional well being.
I wish you the best.
I love finding blogs that are filled with such honesty. I’m sure it was hard for you to put it out there and be vulnerable but you are totally letting God use your story and what you’ve learned to help others! Way to go Ashley!!
Julie Marie says
ashley, i am so glad i read this post… (and thank you alissa for having her over)..i did always “look” at you to be so happy. i always looked at myself that way actually.. 2009ish i hit a hard depression because of a long story of circumstances…and i had no clue people could ever feel so low. i posted it on it a few months ago, but i just wanted any way to escape my thoughts…and realistically, if i didnt have 3 kids that needed me, I would have found a way to end it. so i know what its like to feel this… i force myself to pick up daily and smile and enjoy life…i took myself off the depression drugs and other things i was doing and tried to make life work with God.. oh man i have come a LONG way.. but the weird thing is, I dont know if this is how it is for you..but when something makes me sad or hurts or offends me now, it feels REALLY EASY to slip back into a MAJOR depression really fast… i HATE that… i was never like that… its hard, and by the grace of God I am determined to let his joy be my strength.. thanks ashley.. love ya girl… =)
Ashley – I just stumbled on this post via Casey Wiegand. Thank you so much for this! So encouraging to hear from someone else who struggles like I do. Encouragement that while much of the struggle I have no control over, I can control some of my reaction. I pray God continues to prune and nurture you through this “thorn in your side” – I know He does with me, although I’m rarely grateful for that PRIVILEGE. xo Alanna