Crista Tharp

I Came, I Saw, I Did. And now I’m Done!

When I was younger, I thought I could do anything. If I wanted it – I went for it. Period.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with that, but I certainly never stopped to consider what I was doing to my health – both mental and physical. A new pregnancy every 7-8 months post-birth, running a business that created a lot of stress, and never taking the time to heal and recharge.

Well, it caught up with me.

As I share in my new book, “Ditch the F**king Cape: Confessions of a so-called Superwoman”, I am one of the millions who experience depression and anxiety. Actually, mental health is my family’s kryptonite. Almost all 12 of us suffer with one or the other (or both) and it can be overwhelming, exhaustive, and frankly, fucking horrific.

Growing up, I knew the highs and lows of depression intimately. Looking back, I can still feel the overwhelming ick. It makes me shiver just thinking of it. I also realize that I never knew that I suffered with anxiety as well. I just thought I was stressed or worse. I now know that stress is anxieties’ red headed stepchild. Most of the time I was just angry. Years later, I finally figured out my yelling came from undealt with anxiety.

Yay me.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I have made the decision to be raw, honest, and painfully transparent in hopes of helping other women out there.

So, here goes…

I am just coming out of a particularly harsh depressive episode. Yes, me – the woman who has just launched a new book and business – 6 of my 10 children are out of the house and thriving – my husband is freaking gorgeous – and life is just GOOD.

What does that mean? It means that two weeks ago, I woke up with zero desire to live.

Yes, that’s pretty hard to type, but it is 100% true.

Depression for me, can come as a complete sneak attack. I went to bed happy and opened my eyes the next morning in complete and utter despair. I sleep for 18 hours of the day – for a week! While I am stuck in bed, I barrage myself with horrible taunts like, “Crista! Get your ass out of bed! What the hell are you doing? You have soooo much to do. This is ridiculous!”

But then the sad, panicked side of me would beg, “No, I can’t! I just want off the ride. I don’t feel safe. I am protected here in bed with the covers over my head. I can do this for today. Just today. Then I will be better tomorrow. Please let me stay.”

Sometimes, I was better the next day; but often, it lasted for days or even weeks. This episode has been a full two weeks and I am finally making my way out of it. Let me tell you, it has royally sucked.

Usually, we hide this part of us. The imperfections we experience daily are so relatable because we all go through this on some level. But we keep our failures covered or at the very least, we downplay them. This adds to more shame, guilt, and just down-right disgust.

This is burnout – BUT THERE IS HOPE!

I wanted to share with you the “story” I was telling myself during this last depressive incident, how I coped, and finally, how I started working out of it in hopes this helps even just one person who reads this.

First, I know what triggered it. I had to get a uterine biopsy (I’m fine – all good) but that procedure threw my hormones into a frenzy and they ultimately said to me, “annnd we’re done.” I thought I would be able to get around it but I then started throwing up. I thought I had the stomach flu. That is absolutely understandable – I had the flu. No one would judge me for taking off a few days to rest and recover, right? of course!

Oh, but it wasn’t the flu.

As I tried to navigate life the past two weeks, my mental health was pushed to the limit. I have several kids going through their own fight with mental health. I have a son with strange pains in his belly that we can’t explain. The older kids are now taking their mobile phones off our plan as well as car insurance (praise Jesus!) and doing their taxes for the first time on their own. There are LOTS of questions, lots of texts, lots of phone calls. Then our son, Terin, who works at Disney World, went to the hospital with a 7mm kidney stone they had to surgically removed and I couldn’t be there to help.

BREATHE.

Our mortgage escrow (taxes and insurance) went up $300 a month.

BREATHE.

Kids have car issues that Chad needs to take care of.

BREATHE.

In order to get my new business and book off the ground I need to master social media. I am completely failing at that.

FUCKING BREATHE!

After a week of these intense feelings just piling up and up and up – I was truly a mess. While my family AWAYS understood when I was going through this, it still sucked. I felt like I was failing them. I didn’t go to the Howard County Music Festival for our daughter, Ava. I missed Catie’s Scout Bridging ceremony. All because I would have felt exposed and trapped.

I needed help – so I got it.

I reached out to my incredible therapist. Guys, everyone should be getting therapy. It helps so much to speak to someone qualified to help with coping mechanisms who aren’t family and sometimes, you just need to be validated.

“Why yes, Crista, your life is utterly freaking crazy. It is totally understandable why you feel so lost and overwhelmed!”

When you are depressed – you feel no joy. No peace. No contentment. Nothing you usually enjoy feels good anymore. No food, no laughter, just dark, gloomy, and very lonely. You feel like you are in a pit that is 1000 feet high and there is no way out which makes you sadder, angry, and throws you into complete misery. You don’t want to be around anyone because you feel like a blob of gloominess and it frustrates anyone around you.

So, how did I start working out of it towards the light?

First, I had to recognize it for what it was. I was experiencing a very rough depressive episode with the extra bonus of anxiety thrown in. I needed to take care of myself. Self-care became crucial and I had to accept that my feelings were worthy of being felt and expressed. The only way out is through, and I had to stop berating myself for the very real crisis my mind was experiencing.

“The only way out, is through.”

Robert Frost

Second, I had to start taking baby steps. My therapist gave me homework to start on. I had to wake up at 9 am (suck). I normally don’t get up until 10 am on NORMAL days. But, I had to stop sleeping for 18 hours a day. Then I needed good healthy food in the morning. Add more water as well. The first day, all I did was get up at 9 am, eat and then plopped on the couch and binged Netflix all day until the kids came home. The most important part of this was feeling no guilt. Baby steps remember? But each day since, I have added more and more to my plate – like movement. I HATE the “E” word (exercise) but I have fallen in love with the Beat Saver game on VR & I think I am going to spring for an oculus 2 so I can do more movement that is fun. I’m finding a way that works for me.

Third, I had to join the world again. This was hard, but I did it slowly and today I am actually out of my house! When you work from home, you can get swallowed in the creature comforts of your house. For me – it is TV. So I had to leave and I am getting things done.

Now, I have added a fourth step – Sharing all of this to let other women know they are NOT ALONE. Mental health should no longer be embarrassing to talk about. Every single one of us has a brain. That brain is very complicated and it WILL short-circuit on you. You need to be prepared and be gentle with yourself when it happens.

Listen, I could be embarrassed by this or I could use my big mouth and voice to bring it out into the light. The more we see, the more we understand. The more we share, the more we learn. The more we relate, the more we realize we are much more alike than we ever knew.

I am embracing this Monday. I am going to be myself, write what makes me happy and grab the joy that I can. Then I will go home and be encircled by my loving family.

Heaven.

Finding my Blyss and living it unapologetically is not just my mission, it is my purpose. If you are struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone. Reach out – ask for help – and make your health and happiness a priority. Please know I am here if you need a friendly ear or even just a swift kick in the ass.

Let’s get blyssed.

Love,

Crista

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