Have you ever experienced a time you were struggling and didn’t realize how bad it was? Well that’s exactly what I walked into. Many can attest to this, because odds are you’ve gone through the same thing. For the majority of 2021 my mental health wasn’t the best and I struggled with both anxiety and depression and didn’t realize how bad it was till after September. What led to that were the events of the past two years prior to 2022. Throughout the past couple of years big changes happened with little time to process it; then it all hit at once in 2021. Those included several close calls with covid, and self-imposed lockdowns, a time I wasn’t working very much, a move from Birmingham to Mount Olive, losing a substantial amount of weight, and not being around a lot of community.
So, in January of 2021 we moved from Birmingham to Mount Olive. To get more into detail, while we were living in Homewood the house my family had was rented and we were told the Saturday before Thanksgiving that we had a week to buy the house or it would be sold. We attempted to find a way to stay with no luck, time fell through our hands, and we were forced to find a house and move by January 15. Now looking back on it, the move affected me a lot more than I thought it would. In that moment I should have taken it for what it was and realized that a move is a big change. Depending on the change it can be hard for me to handle, but by not taking that into consideration when I should have, I thought I was fine but really I wasn’t. The move put me in the mindset of not really wanting to work a lot, and I was at home more than usual, working only once a week. By being there once a week and trying to work from home the other days, productivity was a challenge for me. Plus for a time this was the only thing I left my house for and I didn’t see a lot of people which caused loneliness to creep in. As it crept in slowly I needed to make some kind of change or it would get worse than it already was. One small change I knew I could make was being at work more and spending more time outside the house. By making this change my productivity began growing and loneliness started fading away. The biggest thing that helped was seeing how good the Lord was, how every detail was worked out through Him to get a home before January 15. Today, I’ve been enjoying living in Mount Olive, for a while I’ve struggled with the fact that this is beyond my control but I have come to understand that there is a purpose in this move. Part of me believes maybe I needed to move out here to refocus or maybe take me out of my comfort zone. Whether it’s one of those, both, or none, I’m at peace with it.
Through struggling with depression and anxiety it also brought up problems with eating throughout the year. Those issues included getting full quicker than I usually do causing me to not finish meals or losing my appetite. This ultimately led to me lose a little over 20 pounds. To be completely honest with you this was one of the hardest things to share; the reason why is because I didn’t know when to bring it up. There would be a few times where a friend would help and they’d say “Khiry you’re a little lighter than usual.” I knew the reason why, but I wasn’t sure how to talk about it at that moment. There were also times I questioned if I was making any progress. For example, there would be a day that I’d eat dinner and be able to finish the entire meal, but the next day the struggle to eat would return. This made it feel like I was taking three steps forward and two steps back. With this constant back and forth I began to doubt if I’d ever get to a good weight, as this feeling began to come over me I started praying. Praying for the Lord’s help in gaining weight, an increased appetite, and to silence doubt. Once I prayed this it felt like an overflow of confidence hit me in the chest. Then, I started thinking of next steps to continue this journey. The first was patience, understanding it could take a while to get to where I wanted to be; knowing there would be days I make a lot of progress and days that I wouldn’t’, but if I remain confident I’ll get there. Through this I was able to challenge and encourage myself in a way that wasn’t forceful. This has honestly been a battle but I feel like I have made progress from where I once was to where I am now. Not only that but I feel like the Lord has been there every step of the way. Although it’s been slow I can say today that I’m finishing meals more often, I’m not losing my appetite, and have a strange feeling that I’m always hungry but I have snacks to cover that.
Although I’d gotten to a good place with moving and eating, the overarching battle of anxiety and depression still existed. During the time when I was overcome by these struggles, I wasn’t around a lot of community. A big portion of this was the severity of Covid at the time. At the time, the delta variant made it tough to be out and about often. Because of Muscular Dystrophy, I didn’t know how my body would respond to Covid. Another reason why I was still battling was because I lost my desire in pursuing the things I’m passionate about. I’d gotten to a point where I was unsure of my why and my willingness to do anything or reach out. I lost the desire to do everything; blogging, working on the company I’m starting up, speaking, and even hangouts (sorry if we haven’t hung out). Reaching out got to a point where I would either take forever to answer or type out a full text but soon after erase the text and not reply. What I believe played a factor in this was what if my struggle with depression and anxiety came up in conversation. This was a thought because I either didn’t want to talk about it or avoid talking about it entirely. Layered on top of that were lies that no one would understand the true extent of what I’m going through. And at the time my anxiety put me in the mindset that no one can know about this and I would eventually shut down. But with that came this large weight on my shoulders that kept increasing when I would be with friends or when someone would ask how I was. The weight would become so overwhelming that it would lead to a breakdown at work. When I came to terms with this I began seeing it for what it was; that I struggled with both depression and anxiety throughout most of 2021, and that I needed help. Not only did this realization bring so much healing, but it helped me become vulnerable again to talk about it even if it was just a small conversation. As this was happening the weight on my shoulders began to diminish a little but I knew this wasn’t just going to be a quick fix. The next steps, then, would be for me to search for therapy, but there was this thought of the time it would take to set it up. Going through the process did take a while and I questioned if I still needed therapy because I felt a little better. Despite that I stuck with it and the Lord started opening door after door and I got connected quicker than I thought. Sometimes it can take more than six months to a year to get therapy but I was in at about five months. But as I waited, I knew I would have to try to do the things I’m passionate about (writing, speaking, encouraging), not only that but to make the effort to be around community more. When I first started there was a little bit of hesitation but the patience of the Lord really showed. Through this entire process He never rushed me to get through it or do it alone, but He sat with me, waiting patiently in the struggle.
Now getting to this point I just let out the biggest exhale. For a while I wasn’t sure if I would make it to this point; I’ve ran into walls of doubting myself if I would ever finish and if I should post this or not. But every time I doubted myself both the Lord and my community reaffirmed me with confidence and encouragement which gave me the endurance to keep going. Then I started to think of what this could bring, as I’ve finished paragraph after paragraph, so much weight had been lifted. Not only that but I’ve also understood that we’re all going through something in some kind of way. When I thought this I came to the realization that if I just decide not to post it, it may not reach others that are struggling and need to hear that there is a way out. Despite this being the longest and hardest blog I’ve written, it has been a real treasure writing it. Writing this blog has brought so much joy and boosted both my overall confidence and mood. I’ve been smiling like before and I dance a little more often. Don’t stare, but when I’m in the zone at work you’ll probably see me moving to the music playing in my headphones. Slowly but surely I’m getting back to myself. Am I fully there yet? No, but I know that with time, patience, and perseverance I’ll get there.