Climbing Out of a Black Hole

I try to keep things 100% real here, but it’s hard when things get tough. I mean, the title of my blog has “happy” in it. If I’m not happy, what am I? But this is my blog after all, so here goes:

When I started this fitness journey back in 2004, I was more than 100 lbs heavier & suffered from crippling anxiety, OCD, and depression. My hands would crack and bleed from over-washing and some days I couldn’t even leave my dorm. With 5 years of exercise, therapy, medication, and a healthier diet, I managed to find my way out of that hole. And even though I managed to wean off the OCD medicine (and haven’t had an episode in years), I will occasionally fall back into that hole.

Which is where I’m at right now.

For the past three weeks or so, I’ve been in an emotionally bad place. The best way I can describe it is like I’ve been watching a movie of my life. Some days it takes a huge effort just to get out of bed. A few days, I slept 18+ hours and have had no motivation to do anything. One day my husband had to physically pull me out of the car to take a walk at the park, and all I wanted to do was cry the whole two miles. At holiday gatherings I found myself fighting back tears while watching everyone else laugh. I’d put on a happy face to go for a run or to a movie, and then fall right back into staring at the TV or a blank wall, trying not to cry.

Some more well-adjusted folks might read that and think “What a head case!” Hell, I even think that sometimes – I’ve had a perfectly happy holiday season, I have family and friends that love me, a great job, a roof over my head… what the hell could I possibly be so depressed about? And when I think that, I get even more upset, and it spirals from there. Those of you who’ve experienced depression or anxiety know what I’m talking about, and it sucks.

What brought it on? Is it just the Holiday Blues? The lack of structure being off from work for so long? The unhealthy food and abundance of wine? All three? Who knows. And it’s hard to even put into words exactly what goes through my head when I’m in the middle of it. But I’m lucky: my friends and family have all been nothing but supportive. And to be honest, today is one of my first good days. Coming back to work, monitoring my diet, and forcing myself to be physically active are all helping, but it takes time. I’m pretty sure I’m bouncing back slowly, but there’s always a fear that it’ll creep back up and paralyze me again.

I don’t have a specific purpose for writing this post, to be honest. Part of me needed to write it to clear my head, but it’s also for anyone who has gone through – or is going through – something similar. If you’re in the middle of it, know you’re not alone, no matter how lonely you might feel. The sun will come out. It always does. And don’t be ashamed to talk about it or seek help. Negative thoughts spread like wildfire and sometimes all you need to do to break the cycle is talk to someone else, even if it hurts.

I also hope that anyone lucky enough to have never experienced depression or anxiety realizes it’s not trivial. With physical illness, you experience symptoms that others can see; runny nose, broken bones. But with mental illness, the symptoms are hidden. So be kind to others. Even if they’re smiling and seem happy on the outside, you never know what kind of battle they’re fighting on the inside.

30 thoughts on “Climbing Out of a Black Hole

  1. It sounds like you’re stuck in a mile-deep rut, and you need to climb out one foothold at a time. You’ve bounced back before and you can do it again. Time to sample something a little new and different maybe? An intelligent gal like you might consider something totally off-the-wall and far away from your comfort zone.

    However you decide you reset yourself, I’m cheering you on all the way!

    • Thank you, mama! I’m getting there, switching things up to break out of the rut, and going back into the office really does help. As much as we say we hate “the grind”, there’s something comforting about routine and knowing I’ll get to use my brain all day (instead of sitting around in my own head and going further down the spiral)! Love you!

  2. Thanks for this post. I’ve never been close to having depression before…ever in my entire life! But these dopey anti cancer meds I’m on have depression as a side effect. Yeesh! Not fun. The good news for me is that the episodes only last for a bout 90 minutes. And I can totally eliminate them by exercising first thing in the morning! So guess who’s on an indefinite everyday running streak?!
    God bless you and I hope you get through this soon.

    • Bless you for going through your ordeal and knowing how to cope with the medicine and get through this terrible time with a positive outlook! I’m glad exercising is helping for you, I’ve had to switch my workouts up the past few days just to get stuff done (running is almost painful because of this, so I’m biking and swimming more) and it’s helping. One day at a time! ❤

  3. I’ve been there and it sucks, no two ways about it. And unfortunately, there’s no easy answer that is standard for everyone. The fear that it’s always lurking, ready to creep up on me is always there. I know you’ll be able to shake this and come through stronger on the other side. Big hugs to you, my friend. ❤️

    • You nailed it – everyone is different and what works for one person might not do a thing for another. But every day will get a little better, hour by hour and minute by minute! Just like a marathon: one foot in front of the other. Thank you! ❤

  4. So many hugs to you friend. I have been there before and it can be so hard to pull yourself out of it. Talking about it does help. Know that you are supported and that you will find your way again .

  5. I had no idea 😦 Hope things are much better now (perhaps with just letting it go on your blog) – honesty is what makes a blog…great. Keep writing, we’ll keep reading.

  6. Thank you for sharing this. My brother has crippling anxiety, and uses his writing to remind his readers on social that the holidays are very hard times for those with any form of anxiety, depression, etc – even though, as you write, you can’t always see it on the outside like physical illness. So thank you for being vocal and adding to the words, ideas, and expressions about mental illness on the internet – every one counts and is a step toward removing the stigma around “invisible” illnesses.

  7. Thank you so much for this. It rings a lot of bells for me – I have clinical depression that is mostly well controlled with medication. But I understand those dark days. It helps me to know that others have them too. Keep up the good honest blogging and running. x

  8. Have you heard of the author Matt Haig? He wrote a book last year called “Reasons to Stay Alive” and it’ll be released in the US next month. I bought a copy from Amazon UK and it’s one of those books I know I’ll always have around and will read many times. He writes about pretty much exactly what you wrote in this post. This kind of stuff doesn’t get talked about much, and I found it comforting to know someone else has had similar experiences, and encouraging to know there’s a way out of the black hole. He’s got some excerpt videos on his website if you’re interested: http://www.matthaig.com. Sending virtual hugs! ❤

  9. Tears in my eyes reading this… I’ve been feeling very similar for the past month and while I’m quite aware of my recent triggers, it’s still difficult to resolve this hole I’m in. Thank you for sharing, sometimes it helps to know that we’re not alone (even though I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel this way). Stay strong! hugs ❤

  10. So true, I suffer from depression and anxiety and the last couple days, I’ve been so sick from my stress and depression, that I’ve been throwing up. I don’t know if that happens to you, but I try to stay positive, even when I really feel horrible. Sometimes different things trigger it, other times, I don’t know why it happens. Just keep your head up and try and do things you love doing, for yourself. That should give your day a little bit of cheer. Good luck, hun!

    • Oh thank you SO much for your note! I’m sorry you’ve been feeling low lately too, and getting physically ill over it – that’s the worst! I’ve been there, thankfully not this go-round, but I definitely know what it’s like. I’m sending lots of positive, bright thoughts your way, take care of yourself!! ❤

  11. Girl, you are NOT alone!! I have been in a funk myself the last few weeks… super depressed, sad, angry… to the point where I saw candy canes at work and started belittling them for tasting awful and who would ever eat them… after that, i took a step back and just starting laughing at myself. I mean, candy canes. Seriously, I felt ridiculous.

    I used to struggle with depression and anxiety 6 years ago, and now those old friends come back every once in a while. I like to just let them ride out and observe them – sometimes it’s just old crap you might be ready to deal with, and you just gotta let it run its course. I hate when people say, oh, it will all be ok… no, you just gotta be you and deal with whatever it is and face whatever it is that’s making you feel that way. and sometimes that means taking a night or 2 off, eating ice cream, or yelling at candy. Or even a good cry or 2 or 3 or 4… you get my drift. but it won’t be ok until you can see the light, which eventually comes, whether its in 1 week or 1 month. But you are the decider of how you feel, and if that overwhelming feeling is to cry, then do it!

    Anyways, you are awesome, a shining beacon of hope and light to so many people… I love following you, happy or sad! Keep doing whatever you are doing, you rock!

    • oh my goodness I know EXACTLY what you mean! “Yelling at Candy” – that should be the title of your memoir 😉 It’s true though – it’s all about taking the time you need, and everyone is different. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and leave these words of encouragement – thank you for sticking around with me on this crazy ride! 🙂

  12. Hey Jessica. First off, thank you very much for sharing this, it intrigued me to share my feelings lately…. Before Christmas, I was feeling “off” as well. I have a co worker right now who’s about to retire in two days, & is very negative & depressing to be around. It’s all doom & gloom around my workplace in his mind, & I don’t do well with negative energy. I had even thought about confronting him, even around others, & telling him off, (which is so not me). I’m not sure if that put me in an “I don’t care” mood regarding the holiday season, but I felt so down for a few weeks. It was tough to not give off negative vibes, & a few times, I denyed it, but was called out on it a couple of times by my wife. One night, I took a long shower, & let the tears flow, & I must say, it helped a lot. I used my time off from work to forget about the negative vibes & have embraced 2016 so far.
    I’m very grateful to have gotten to know you, Jessica. I love reading your blog posts, following you on IG, & seeing your life through your FB. You’re such an inspiring ray of light, please keep being yourself, & keeping it real. It’s what people like & love about each other.

    • You said it perfectly: “I don’t do well with negative energy” – YES! I’m the same exact way, and people who aren’t sensitive to that kind of thing just don’t get it. You’ve got to do what’s best for you, if that means having a good cry in the shower or being alone for a few hours, whatever it takes. I really appreciate you coming along on this journey with me, I’m glad we’ve connected and look forward to what the future holds for all of us! Thanks for being you! ❤

      • That’s exactly right, some people have tough skin, & nothing bothers them. I’m known at work & in life, as being an easy going & positive person, so when I’m not feeling as such, I feel the need to put on a mask & hide it, instead of just being a cranky pants, for the world to see. One of the reasons why I love getting out there on my bike & laying down an 80km+ ride is the being alone part. I do enjoy the company too, but that alone time is great therapy, just me, the wind in my face, some good music, & maybe a big hill to bust my ass a bit!! I’m sure running gives you the same feelings, besides, aren’t those endorphins the greatest!!! 🙂

  13. Aw, thanks for sharing. I try to keep my blog positive, like you, and I like to read positive, ‘happy’ blogs cuz it really helps, but the depression and anxiety just never leave me. I end up not blogging when I don’t feel I can be positive, so I know how hard it must have been for you to post this. I can really relate to your struggles, you are not alone! I hope you continue on the upward trend and keep doing the things you know help- work, exercise, etc. Hugs

    • You’re right, the motivation to post when you’re in a funk is just GONE, so it’s hard. I knew by writing this it would alienate some folks, but when you’ve got that storm in your brain and you just need to get it out, sometimes that stuff doesn’t matter. I’m glad you can relate and hope the sun comes out for you too! Sending you a virtual hug and wishes for a happy weekend! 🙂

  14. Pingback: My First Acupuncture Session | Jess Runs Happy

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