More of my story…
I have to back up a little bit to tell the story so please bear with me while I give you a little background.
In Spring 2015 I left a job I had been at for almost 8 years and took a new job at an acute rehab hospital about 50 miles from home. I was already driving 30 miles one way to work so I didn't think adding an extra 20 miles each way would be too bad. I was wrong! But, I enjoyed the work and liked the people I worked with. After being there for nine months I was offered a promotion at a sister hospital a few miles away (further away) and I started over... again. The combination of 12 hour work days, over an hour commute each way, and never being "off the clock" led me to simply exist for six months. My emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health was suffering and I couldn't handle it anymore. I was broken in every way! I was depressed, suffering almost daily panic attacks, crying all the time, not sleeping, my blood pressure was dangerously high, I developed tachycardia (which is a fancy word for my heart rate would never go below 130 even when I was resting and most of the time it stayed up around 150), and I wasn’t spending any time with my family or friends. But…I was making a salary that I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d make as a Social Worker and I had a “title”; AND I was absolutely miserable! Now, just so you know…I was diagnosed with depression back in 1998 and had been on a good medication regime since then without too much trouble over the years. But this was more than I could handle. My doctor was changing and increasing medication and for the first time in my life he prescribed anxiety meds. I felt alone, isolated, lonely, and like a great big FAKER! I think some people close to me knew how I was feeling, but if you didn’t know me I believe you would have thought I had it all together. I was performing well at the job, but it was taking EVERY bit of energy I could muster up to get through the day.
In mid-August last year, with the support of my family...I walked away. When I say walked away…I mean I did something completely out of character for me. I drove to work one morning, broke down in tears (again) after about 2 hours, told the CEO that I needed to leave, and drove home. I never stepped foot back in the hospital again after that morning. The guilt was heavy for leaving my team a work and for putting my family in a position where we lost my salary instantly, but I was at a breaking point and just couldn’t do it anymore. At that moment, it was truly a life or death decision for me. I don’t say that lightly, either. I needed help and I knew I had to hit the pause button on my life if I was going to make it through.
So…what did I do? I rested, prayed, cried bucket of tears, read, reconnected with my family, journaled, served others, found a Christian counselor (and saw her weekly), joined a Bible Study group, and began to be creative again. Some days I didn’t know what to do with myself but my family and friends held me up when I couldn’t hold myself up. I would not be here today without them. As the days turned into months, the physical symptoms I had been experiencing started to ease. My blood pressure and heart rate returned to normal, and I as I started working through things with my counselor, the panic attacks started happening less often and eventually subsided. Please don’t get me wrong, none of these things happened right away…it took months. Months of prayer and really hard work. During that time I had also started to paint and make wood signs and be creative. I heard a podcast in April with a guest named Jenny Randle who talked about how creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised and if we practice creative activities we can strengthen the muscle. Hearing that podcast made me realize that this was something I had missed in my life and I didn’t even realize it. Jenny said she believes everyone is created to create since we are created in the image of our Creator. 😊 Say that 3 times really fast…I dare you! 😊 That spoke straight to my heart and I haven’t been the same since. I’ve listened to that podcast multiple times since then and I am blessed by her story every single time! After I heard it the first time I reached out to Jenny to thank her for sharing. She was so wonderful and messaged me back with such a sweet note.
Like Jenny, I truly believe that everyone is CREATED to CREATE! I don't feel like it's overstating to say that being creative again, in conjunction with all the other work I did (and the work God did in me), saved my life…and changed my life!! The more I made things with my hands and used my imagination my "creative muscle" got stronger and stronger. I started gaining confidence and I started getting “better”. A couple of months ago I told someone I was starting to feel like myself again…but a “BETTER self”.
So…still want to know what all the crazy pictures are about? Jenny has written an interactive devotional book called “31 Day Create - Discover and Strengthen Your Creativity”. It is releasing soon and she asked me if I’d be willing to write a short testimony for her book’s website and include a picture of myself being creative. So…I called up my personal photographer and basically said “hey, I need you to come take some pictures of me, and oh yeah, you get to splatter me with all different colors of paint.” She was in and the pictures are the result of that short photo shoot!
Thank you so much for taking time to read all of this. This is the big umbrella overview and there are so many other parts to it that I will share in the future. I know it’s a lot, and I know it’s kinda heavy…but what I want you to know is this…if you are struggling with depression and/or anxiety…you CAN get better!! There is a God who loves you and has so many plans for you that you cannot even imagine right now. But if you’ll reach out and get help…and let Him change you…you will be so much better for it! I promise! ((Hugs)) ~Teresa
P.S...Pushing the "publish" button on this is one of the scariest things I've done in a while! But...I told God I'd do it...so here goes!