One of the ways that my depression has manifested itself is that it causes me to avoid things that give me anxiety. Simple things that are part of being a productive adult — like going to the bank, checking my mail, paying an overdue bill — became so incredibly difficult. And then, the guilt and shame about not having done the “normal” adult things that are expected of all of us, amplified the anxiety and made doing those things harder with every passing day. As you can imagine, a consequence of not doing things like paying bills and returning phone calls, is that the simple, day-to-day operational parts of life began to fall apart. The shame-and-avoidance spiral seemed utterly hopeless and never-ending.
Since I started seeing the right therapist and have been pulling out of my depression, the list of things I have to “fix” after a long period of depression-neglect has been daunting. Some things are little, like writing an overdue thank-you note. Some are big and scary, like owning up to a major professional snafu. As I have been going through this process, with an anxiety-ridden task at hand almost every day, one phrase has become like battle cry for me, a motto as I harness my fear and charge ahead. The motto comes courtesy of an online bible study that I came across a few months ago. The title of the study is I Do Hard Things by Havilah Cunnington.
The bible study itself is fantastic. It’s a series of short videos in which Havilah guides us through scripture to help us grow as people of faith as we face the difficult things in life. The study is wonderful, and well worth spending at least a few minutes a day. But it’s the title of the study that hit me square between the eyes and will not get out of my brain. Just adopting those words as my personal mantra has been so incredibly helpful. When I’m preparing to do something difficult, I buck myself up with a pep talk along the lines of: “Heck yeah, I can do this! I’m Ms. Glowstick, and I DO HARD THINGS! It’s what I do, I tackle scary things and I triumph!!!” It may sound silly, but it is incredibly effective for me. And after I conquer something that scared me, I pat myself on the back and say, “That’s right, I do hard things.” It makes me feel like a warrior, a gladiator, who is fighting one challenge at time, to reclaim the life that depression almost took from me.
For whatever reason, this phrase really captures my spirit and bucks up my resolve. What is your “I Do Hard Things”? What motto or phrase gets you psyched up to handle your challenges? I’d love to hear from you about what works for you!