I confess, it’s been hard to get back to normal in my head. My body’s been going through the motions of my daily life, taking care of the kids, going to work, wrapping Christmas presents, finishing the Hanukkah celebrations, and preparing for the holiday parties at school.

But my head’s not in the game and that worries me.

It worries me because I have struggled most of my life with depression and anxiety. I’ve been on and off medication for it in the past and while it helps it also requires a lot of work on my part: daily effort to stay ahead of the waves that are crashing over my head.

Fortunately, since I began this diet in May I have been anxiety free and the anxiety is almost always the forerunner of depression for me.

But since last Friday I’ve been feeling unshakably sad. There is no anxiety, not even about sending my children to school yesterday morning. It was a little bit hard watching them walk away from me, but not much more than usual. My reason and intellect have me well rooted in the reality that my children are no less safe at their schools today than they were last week. But the sadness feels to be wrapped around me like blanket and I can’t see my way out.

5 years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, I fell into the depths of the worst depressive episode I’ve ever experienced in my life. Luckily, I have a husband, friends, family, and a doctor who have no fear of mental illness; who believe it is like any other disease and doesn’t need to be hidden, it needs to be treated. It took me nearly a year to pull out of that spiral downward, but I did. Each winter my Seasonal Affective Disorder rears it’s head and I sometimes need medication to get through, sometimes I don’t.

But, 5 years ago, that bout of depression began with the news that someone I didn’t know personally, but felt a closeness to nonetheless, had been murdered.  Shot to death in his home while protecting his wife and child from a home invasion. I was in acute pain for days and that was all the depression needed to get its venomous grips into me.

I had so been hoping that this winter I would find my anxiety and depression absent in light of my changed eating habits. But this sadness makes me fear I’m in for another ride down the track of a major depressive episode. Despite that fear I need to remember that I don’t have to accept depression as inevitable. I have tools, I have assistance, and I will do the work each day to keep my head above water and keep the waves at bay. If I’m lucky the waves don’t have to crash over me.

I must stay positive.

So for me, my focus today is on getting back to normal. The new normal that has been my life for the past seven months.

For today I will remember that, as a friend used to say, I am blessed and highly favored. I do not take these blessings and favors for granted.

For today I will allow myself to feel sad when I am sad without judgment or a demand to be something that I am not.

For today I will allow myself to feel happy when I am happy without judgement or an expectation that something else might be more appropriate.

For today I will remember that normal is relative and being me is what matters more.

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