MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH SINCE 1949
Did you know Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949?! Am I the only one just now joining the bandwagon of recognizing this debilitating life-threatening illness. Fifteen years ago I would have thought calling mental health issues “life-threatening” an exaggeration. I guess it’s part of the stigma of why awareness has taken so long to take root. There is shame in discussing this illness. But why?
ATTILA THE HUN
I’ll speak for myself.
I grew up in a family where you were taught to be strong and independent. If you’re sad or hurt, rub dirt on it and move on. My Dad told me to read the book Attila the Hun so I could learn how to navigate life.
Attila the Hun was the greatest battle captain of his age, his reputation striking terror in his enemies who both feared and respected the Scourge of God. More than fifteen hundred years later, his name remains synonymous with aggressive cavalry and the warrior ethos.
It doesn’t get more bad axx than that! The only feelings that seemed acceptable to express were strength, determination and conquest (of my goals.)
DAD, ARE YOU PROUD OF ME?
I know I’m not alone in growing up during a time where it was honorable to dismiss your feelings. Acknowledging your feelings, much less discussing them, meant weakness. This trait was great at work. It helped me climb the corporate world in a job that was 97% men. I wasn’t soft, I didn’t complain, I was fierce. I worked hard with my head down to outproduce all my colleagues and competitors.
Early on in my career (1991 – 25 yrs old) I had moved from Chattanooga, TN to Walnut Creek, CA (25 min NE of S.F.) My family lived outside Orlando in Altamonte Springs. I called my Dad one day because I was missing home terribly and asked him if he was “proud of me?” I remember choking up when I asked him the question. Dad replied in a strong gruff voice saying, “Of course, I am.” In other words don’t ask such a stupid question. But I needed to hear the words. And even though he replied in a dismissive way, it was music to my ears. I still remember where I was driving in Silicon Valley (my sales territory at the time.)
As a little side note to parents: your words carry so much weight, remember to use them often for good.
FIRST TRIGGERING EVENT OF DEPRESSION
Fast forward 3 years later, I moved back to Orlando because my Dad had been put into an assisted living home. My empathy was in overdrive and I couldn’t stand the thought of him sleeping and waking up with other strangers. I appealed to senior management for a cross country transfer. The company needed a position to cover Puerto Rico and since Hawaii was also part of my territory I knew I would be an excellent candidate with hazardous waste maritime experience. Wish granted.
Once I made it to Orlando, I quickly rented a two bedroom apartment and kidnapped my Dad at 2 in the morning (not kidding) out of a low cost assisted living facility. I was horrified by the conditions of this place. But in defense of how he got there, Dad had no money, no insurance and was unable to live on his own anymore. He needed around the clock care. Dad lived 4 more months but I’m grateful for all the final moments we had together including the time when I brought breakfast into his room and sat on the side of the bed while he ate. When he was done eating I laid my head on his chest and when I went to get up he held my head down a bit longer…not usually his style. It still brings me to tears.
One morning he woke up disoriented. I called 911 and took him to the hospital where they said his O2 intake was off. I thought, “Okay, now that we’re here at the hospital just fix it.” Little did I know this was the beginning of the end. He also was on dialysis every two days which would knock him out. This time they were doing dialysis twice in one day. He was in a room with several other very sick people lying in bed getting his dialysis. The room was dim and quiet. When he opened his eyes they were so bloodshot. I knew getting a second dialysis treatment was exhausting him so I said goodnight and told him “I love you.” He lifted his head with all his might and whispered, “I love you, too” as I gave him a kiss goodnight.
That was the last time he was conscious. He passed away 48 hours later. It was 1994.
MY DRUG OF CHOICE
I do believe this was the event that triggered the beginning of my depression. I had always been a sentimental more sensitive child growing up. As I look back on my childhood one consistent thing I did was oversleep. I slept so much my parents wondered if I had mono. You know the ‘kissing disease.’ Fatigue is one of the main symptoms and can take up to 6 months to recover from. I never had mono but even as an adult I still require a good 10 hours of sleep to feel good. Certainly my drug of choice. More on this later.
MY IDENTITY WAVERED
In 1996, the company moved me up to Atlanta from Orlando. It was a couple years later I found my home church at Northpoint Community Church (NPCC,) where I have been ever since. In 1999, I had gone through a relationship assessment test with someone I had been seriously dating. The results were pretty bad. There are 4 quadrants you could fall into. The first quadrant indicates you’re a pretty good match. The 2nd and 3rd quadrants get progressively worse and present issues that should be addressed before you get married. But the 4th quadrant is where they don’t recommend working on your issues. They recommend you breakup! We fell in the 4th quadrant. Debbie Causey, counselor who reviewed our results, asked me one simple question and helped me see a different path for myself.
After breaking things off with my boyfriend, Debbie asked if she could walk me through some curriculum on identity and who we are in Christ. I grew up Presbyterian and never had this type of teaching so I was intrigued and said yes.
She uncovered some deep rooted issues and we worked through a lot of my negative thinking patterns. It helped me to break through my depression but she warned me that once you’ve experienced depression you are 50% likely to have it again. It was so awful the first time I told her I’d never go back to that dark place again! Oh sweet naive Danielle.
In 2007 my cat was violently killed in my front yard. I’ve recovered from pets dying in my past but the violence of this act triggered some deep rooted anger, which was enough to throw me back into deep depression again. In addition to the depression, I was also struggling with my faith. Embarrassingly, it took until 2015 for it to break. Our counselor would say I never left the faith but in his words I was walking through a “spiritual wilderness.” The depression was broken through a significant spiritual healing prayer. I’m so grateful for the spiritual healing Karen McAdams poured out over me. Little did I know the worst was yet to come and it was right around the corner.
MOM, PLEASE DON’T GO…
In summer of 2016 my Mom passed away quickly. She went from a high quality of life (as high as it can be living with Multiple Myeloma) to entering the hospital for a chemo treatment and dying 29 days later. The emotional aspect of losing my Mom was rough but coupled with administering morphine orally wrecked me…still to this day.
Shortly after this loss in 2016, two additional most unexpected events took place. I won’t go into detail about them but experiencing the grief of losing my Mom, the PTSD of spending 29 days with someone who is dying and not sleeping myself, completely broke me. I had lost any resilience left in my cup and couldn’t weather these two new storms, in addition to losing my Mom.
PRIDE WAS MY RULER
I remember when I came home from Orlando after Mom had passed in Summer 2016, I asked a counselor if I should consider taking “something.” This was a bold question for me to ask because I always believed you should exhaust eating right, exercising and going to counseling before you take drugs to help you because you “feel down.”
He recommended me to hold off and see how I felt 90 days later. I liked the idea of waiting because I was scared of even considering taking something. Why, you ask? I had spent my whole life getting by on my own determination, my own strength, my own will. It was how I was conditioned. Learning about my identity in Christ was something that came later in life and wasn’t part of my core upbringing. So when I went low, I didn’t know how to cling to Christ nor to others, so I slipped even lower into depression.
Everyday for almost two years 2016 – 2018 (minus 12 weeks*) was like grasping for air, not knowing how to breathe. I felt so much shame and couldn’t discuss it with friends because if I’m a Christian I wouldn’t be struggling so much, right? With shame in my walk, I became even more silent. The enemy was having a field day.
I THINK IT’S TIME…
Let me take you back to a brief period of calmness in the middle of 2016 – 2018. In April 2017, I sat exhausted in front of my counselor, Dr Boyd Whaley, and he strongly recommended that I try some kind of anti-depressant. I knew it was time so I called up a dear friend, who is also my primary care doctor, and asked for her opinion. When I met with her and described my journey with depression and my concerns for taking anti-depressants, she recommended Trintellix. It is a new anti-depressant that helps prevents weight gain. This would certainly address one of my concerns since working out was so important to me.
With tears in my eyes, I asked her if she really thought I should get on something. I laugh when I think back to this day because I was a hot mess. I was in no shape to be asking and questioning now two doctors’ opinions. I needed someone to tell me what to do. I’m so fortunate to have such a gracious Dr who tiptoed around my pride and gently helped me see that this was a good solution.
ALMOST A REPRIEVE FROM THE PAIN
Boy was it ever! First, I started off on 5mg but burned through the effects of the dosage by the third week. So we upped it to 10 mg. Burned through it again by the third week. We upped it to 15mg. Yep, burned through it by the third week. And then when we went to 20mg and it still lost it’s effect after 3 weeks, I weaned myself off the medication. It had been appx 4 months and I was ready to get off the medicine. It had brought me 12 weeks of relief and I knew I wanted this to be a short term solution. I would have been embarrassed for anyone to know I was taking an anti-depressant. Although this provided a brief respite, even my doctor said it was too soon to stop and that I should consider alternatives instead of going cold turkey again.
ONE OF THE WORST DAYS BESIDES LOSING MY PARENTS
So it’s late fall 2017, I’m off of the Trintellix and I move through the rest of the year working hard on myself and my relationships. Then comes January 30, 2018. If there is a day more heartbreaking than losing your parents, this was it. My 22 year old nephew had passed away via suicide. There are no adequate words to describe this time but when I try to explain it is the most gut wrenching horrifying feeling you could ever experience and that’s from an Aunt’s perspective. I’ll never know fully how awful this has been for my sister’s family.
A few months later my Aunt from Holland passes away. Her daughter, my cousin, walked through every day with me when my Mom was dying so I was reliving this with her as much as I could via text and the time difference of Atlanta vs Holland. It was like reliving my pain over again of losing Mom. It was extremely hard for me to be there for my cousin but she deserved all of me considering how generous she was with me every day for 29 days when my Mom was dying.
Then our second cousin, great friend of our family and my Mom’s best friend in the States, passes away a couple months later. I had talked to her everyday since Mom passed so it felt like another part of Mom was gone, as well.
During this time, Russ lost a close high school friend to suicide and his Uncle passed away.
Death hit our family hard.
I chose to go back on Trintellix August 2018 but my depression only seemed to get worse. I took the 20 mg dosage and soon was sleeping 14 – 16 hours. By September I was getting up to eat breakfast and going back to bed and sleeping hard for several hours even after a full night of sleeping. I instinctively knew something was deeply wrong and this medicine wasn’t helping so I weaned off of it again. Now what do I do?!
During this time, I had wonderful dear friends calling and wanting to meet up. To show you how depressed I was, it never occurred to me to reach out to them and ask for help. All I wanted to do was to stay in my dark cold bedroom and escape into a deep sleep. But before I move on I need to share something extremely sensitive. It was also during this time I was having suicidal ideations. I knew I wouldn’t do anything but I just wanted to fall asleep and not wake up again. I was so tortured by my thoughts.
It’s another reason why it pains me that I did not share my rocky journey with depression with my nephew. I didn’t know he was struggling. I’ll always regret this decision to keep quiet but my shame prevented me from opening up. I’ll never know if it would have made a difference but it’s why I don’t care who knows about my journey now.
This rocky journey has taught me that we can’t isolate ourselves into healthy living. I honestly thought when I came home from my mother passing that I could CrossFit my way into being healthy again. I thought I could grieve on my own. There were suggestions to join a small group of people who are grieving but I’m so empathetic I knew I couldn’t handle listening to other people’s pain in addition to my own. I needed to lean on healthy friends who could help me weather this storm but I didn’t. I honestly didn’t feel worthy of connection.
For those of you who reached out to me and have been patient with me…thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thankfully I did spend time in counseling and probably leaned on Russ a bit too much. The worst thing a depressed person could do is stay isolated. Thank goodness for my Crossfit community and the necessity to produce content for this website to keep me active or I would have curled up in ball never to be seen again.
The first 1/2 of 2018 events took a mental and physical toll on both Russ and I and by December 2018 I was sitting tearfully back in Boyd’s office exhausted, emotionally exhausted. This time he said it’s time to reconsider medication or do an intensive meditation retreat where you can learn to meditate yourself through this. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to invest in a meditation retreat so I reluctantly accepted the medicine path.
Here we go again.
I met with a psychiatrist. Just going to that appointment was embarrassing. Hopefully I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew? Maybe if I just eat better or do more Crossfit? Maybe I should take supplements? I drilled the psychiatrist with a million questions before we landed on taking Prozac.
FOG HAS LIFTED?
Oh my goodness, you guys!!! Within one day I felt 50% better. By the next day, my whole body felt rested after I woke up. Within 48 hours I was a new person. I felt so rested. A rest so beautiful that it was the first time I felt good since Mom passed. It’s true when they say you don’t know how sick you are until you feel better. It was like I had been in a permanent fog everyday and everything took a lot of energy to move through all my activities. I hadn’t noticed how foggy it had become.
Another significant thing that stopped was the looping. I couldn’t get off the hamster wheel of dark deep thoughts. I would analyze and reanalyze how to solve some relationship issues but the analyzing only existed in a vacuum, never with the persons involved. Again, another example of how depression can cripple you.
After starting the medication, I went about my normal activities and didn’t experience any side effects other than my taste buds going bland and the weird ‘hot radioactive’ taste of the medicine in my mouth. This left after 90 days of taking the medicine.
VULNERABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY
So where did my embarrassment, the shame, the pride go?
I’ve learned through years of leading a short term marriage group with 4-6 other couples that transparency and vulnerability are the keys to unlocking shame. Thank goodness for Brené Brown sharing her research because I’ve learned that vulnerability feels weak when you’re sharing something hard but is received by others as courage.
Of course, our parents never wanted us to display that kind of vulnerability. They never tried it because their parents probably coached them the same way. It’s in this vulnerability that allows others to see themselves and know we are not alone. I’ve watched the incredible effects of transformation happen over and over in our married small group over the past 7 years with people learning the power of being vulnerable and transparent.
I’ve been sharing this struggle privately in our Thrive groups over the past 7 years but sharing this in an open forum like the world wide web is on another level. I’ve watched the TV commercials trying to normalize mental health issues and see people share openly about their struggles. Yet, I still believed I could conquer this fight with Crossfit and eating better and certainly not discussing it openly with others.
I had to let go of who I thought I should be. After taking Prozac I now see what a losing battle I was fighting.
For those of you who care for the more scientific explanation, Prozac (fluoxetine) is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used for treating depression, bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
The best way I can explain how this works for me is the Prozac prevents me from losing serotonin. Serotonin is produced while you sleep and for some reason it leaves my body as quickly as I make it. I still need a good 10 hours of sleep but now I’m not desperate to go back to sleep. I can see that serotonin was probably deficient even in my high school days. I’ve always required a lot of sleep. Today my mood has lifted but not in an artificial way. I actually feel more like myself again. Before I was extremely anxious and could never get my system to calm down.
3 LESSONS I’VE LEARNED:
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:
- Just like a diabetic needs their insulin sometimes our brains need a little help. Why is the brain the only organ that gets kicked to the curb when we are ailing? We treat everything else in our body?!
- It’s almost impossible to work on yourself and/or your relationships when your thoughts are skewed.
- Taking an anti-depressant is not a life sentence. I’m still working on my faith walk and who I am in Christ, as well as practicing self-care. Like any medicine, I’d prefer not to be on something long-term. Maybe one day, I will stop taking it but only with a drs approval this time.
So are you ready to address your mental health issues? Yes, I still cringe at the phrase “mental health issues” but I refuse to keep quiet any longer. I’m here for you and happy to share more details about this rocky journey.
BEFORE I GO…ONE MORE THING
Clay Scroggins, our NPCC local pastor, recently interviewed Sheryl Sandberg about her Option B book. It was about resilience.
Resilience: The speed and strength at which you respond to adversity — and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone. – Sheryl Sandberg
Clay went on to discuss the Victor Frankl quote referenced in Sheryl’s book that our suffering ceases to be suffering the moment it finds meaning and purpose.
So as nervous as I am to put this post out into the world my hope and desire is it will free someone up enough to ask for help. For someone to recognize they are not alone even though the depression causes them to isolate themselves. Remember that it feels weak to be vulnerable but what is received by others is how courageous you are for reaching out. My hope is you won’t wait as long as I did. It’s called being stubborn!
Through prayer, medication and some godly doctors who I call dear friends, God has helped me build my resilience back up. I love the verse 2 Corinthians 1:7 Clay references in his talk:
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (notice the key word: share)
1. You can’t bounce back alone.
2. There are other people in your life that can’t bounce back without you.
3. There’s someone that needs your struggle. Others need to know how you made it through.
4. Your suffering just might be your superpower.
Perhaps depression is not your battle and you want to be there for others but not sure what to say? Here are some suggestions from the Gottman Institute:
If you find that you are in need of some professional help please follow the link below or call the hotline provided.
Michael Teston says
This is GOLD. Thank you. As a pastoral coach and counselor, I am usually hesitant to suggest that a person consider medication, simply because meds can so easily create a mask that only treats symptoms and not causes.
Your story is the model I wish everyone needing meds could follow. Your body has a genuine need for help with serotonin, AND you are being so wise to pay attention to your spiritual development. Thanks for being brave enough to post this. May God use it to give others permission to get the help they need.
danielle west says
Mike, wow, thanks for your encouragement!! As you can imagine I’m having a major vulnerability hangover this morning. haha But it’s a post I believed in and wanted to help release others from the shackles of shame that come with mental health issues. Again, thank you for your words. They are like a spiritual hug. All the best from Russ and myself!
Mikela Hallmark - Atlanta Counselor says
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing! This is important on so many levels. So many of us are afraid to really work on being vulnerable enough to seek support when dealing with mental health issues, and yet they’re there. And, it impacts our relationships so significantly. I love that Russ has been a great support, and I love that you continue to do the brave thing of allowing others to help you along in the mental health journey. As we continue to share our knowledge and journeys in these areas, it helps destigmatize the idea of other people doing the same. It helps people know and understand that they are not alone, they are not the only ones, mental health impacts ALL types of people, and there is nothing wrong with facing mental health issues and working on them. It’s a brave thing to allow other people to see vulnerability and imperfection (yet we all have vulnerabilities and we All are imperfect.) Thank you for being a leader in this area Danielle! Your willingness to speak on this is simply a reflection of how you are walking in the purpose for your life, and as you do that you change and bless the lives of those who you come in contact with.
danielle west says
I love how you said, “As we continue to share our knowledge and journeys in these areas, it helps destigmatize the idea of other people doing the same.” It’s just hard being the first one out when you don’t know others who are struggling. The shame gets compounded. The best gift has been hearing the reaction because the hollow shell I isolated myself in immediately got filled up with lots of love. Thanks for being one of those friends in my life.
Meriam Dolan says
I love this post!! I know it took tremendous courage for you to be so vulnerable. I love you and am so thankful for the example you set for me and so many others. You lead so well and I do believe this post will encourage many others!!
danielle west says
Ironically, you introduce me to others as your mentor but it was really you and Geremy who displayed such beautiful transparency when we apprenticed under you for Thrive. You set the bar high and I thought I would never be so open. You have inspired me along the way of how intentional and purposeful you are with your marriage and your friendships. You are the one who taught me what it’s like to be vulnerable and transparent and to observe the transformation that follows. Love your leadership and love you!
Holly Peed says
Danielle, this is awesome. I relate to this so well. Thank you for being strong and not afraid to share your journey. I’m lot brave enough to share mine on here in this moment quite yet, but I’m finding help (like you did) and I see the difference. This was so encouraging for me. Love you, lady!
danielle west says
Holly, I love how we’ve stayed in touch via your husband, Joseph. You have the sweetest gentlest soul and I can only imagine how your sweet soul might struggle with what life throws at you. You’ve been through a lot and like me I believe you can free up others with your story. There’s a dynamic I’ve experienced that when we keep it to ourselves it seems to grow. But once it’s brought out into the light it loses all its power. Love that you’re in our Mastermind and I can’t wait to how our community of women will impact us all this year!
This blog post moved me so much, one of the main things that helps me cope with my mental illness is seeing other people’s stories and realizing how alike we all are as humans, thank you for sharing your story!
danielle west says
Rachel, thank you for your bravery in sharing your mental illness. We’re all in this together and hopefully together we can pull the mask off and show what real life looks like instead of protecting an image that none of us could ever live up too. I love the friendship you have with Chandler and I’m so glad you’re in our lives! xo P.S. I’m always here for you!
Danielle, what a wonderful blog and what a wonderful gift you are giving with your vulnerability and honesty. Sending #3 your way. Much love to you, my friend.
danielle west says
Gerri, you have been our biggest cheerleader for the Intentional Marriages website! Thank you!! And thank you for a friendship that goes back almost 23 years. You’ve seen the ups and downs and still loved me the same. I love you Queen Sheeba the Funky Diva!!
Danielle, You are an inspiration to me. Because of you and what you shared I was able to open up and eventually be myself in Thrive following your example. This is so powerful to read. And remember what you told me about how powerful being vulnerable is and how it’s brave too. That’s you. Thank you for sharing!
danielle west says
Andrea, my little sister from another mother! haha After each Thrive meeting Russ would comment and say you and Andrea are so “feisty!” haha I see myself in you. I’ve been so impressed with YOU. You committed to sharing more the second time around with Thrive and others were gifted with the lessons you’ve learned. I knew it wasn’t easy but every Monday night my admiration grew for you. Thanks for walking along this journey with me and here’s to us being more and more transparent! xo
Thank you for sharing your story. I knew you through these years you said we’re the hardest. Although you told me about all of these things and I knew you were going through some struggles, I never knew how bad you were feeling. You appeared so tough and resilient and all the while carried me through my worst nightmare! Such a testament to the selfless person you are and how much you’ve impacted other people probably more than you’ll ever know. So thankful the medication has worked so well and you’re back to feeling you again. We love you and Russ and are just so thankful for you!!
danielle west says
Kimeran, I never revealed much about the depression because everyday I thought it would get better. When it only got worse is when I had to lay my sword down and realize I was losing the battle. As I mentioned in the blog, the shame also kept me silent. Who wants to share that they slept 16 hours and had no motivation to do anything. I was embarrassed but didn’t realize I was so serotonin deficient. Your friendship with both you and Andrea have been highlights for me these past two years. Watching the transformation with you and Jack has been inspirational!! Love you dearly!
Hillary Kee says
Danielle, this was a holy journey you have shared with us and I feel blessed to have a friend who can be so vulnerable. I love Brene Brown’s quote, “Vulnerability is not about winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up even when you can’t control the outcome.” You embody this. She also says, “I found that vulnerability is the glue that holds relationships together. It’s the magic sauce.” Yep…I grew up stuffing everything down. It protects me from pain. As a 48 year old woman I am just now practicing (daily) to express myself authentically and not be who everyone thinks I am. I grew up with a fierce “warrior” mentality. Now I like to be called a “Soft Warrior”…I’ll never lose my competitive, driven, conquer a goal type of mindset….but I attempt to do it softly , submissively and with humility. I’m not afraid or embarrassed to cry. You, my friend are in the arena, and if you’ve fallen at times, at least you are Daring Greatly. Because He lives, Hillary
danielle west says
And the beauty of this arena is that you’re in there with me! It’s been amazing how much we have in common. You are a treasure of a friend and I’m so grateful that a Craig’s listing for another friend brought you into our lives. Thank you Jeremy & Melinda Denison. I love the Soft Warrior mindset!! I might have to steal that line. You and Chad have been incredible supporters of our website, especially the Weekly Webinars. You are generous with your encouraging words knowing how unnerving it can be to produce, film and edit webinars week after week. Thank you for your love and the authenticity you bring to our friendship! Love you Soft Warrior!!
Mandy Hendrix says
Best. Post. Yet. Thank you for being so transparent and vulnerable with people like me. Even as a reader, you have no idea how much your words just spoke to me! So, thank you!!
danielle west says
Mandy, Russ and I love how intentional you and Andrew are with your marriage. You never present it to be perfect and this transparency is what has drawn me to you. When people take off the masks of an image they are trying to portray it allows us all to experience true friendship without judgement. Thank you for your encouraging words and know we’re always here for you guys! xo
Anna Bullis says
You are beautiful inside and out. I know it must have taken a lot of courage to be so vulnerable. So happy you are doing better. Maybe one day society will be more open to talk about mental illness. The brain should be treated and viewed just like you would treat any other organ in the body.
danielle west says
Anna, I’m not sure if I ever told you this but you being one of my first Crossfit Coaches is what inspired me to stick with it. I thought if this tall gal can do these strength moves, so can I. More importantly you were always encouraging and supportive, even though I was super awkward. haha All these years later Crossfit was one of the significant lifesavers. You have something to do with that! With your science background I know you can appreciate how we don’t have testing for this one important organ and rely on a person’s feelings to dictate our medical pathway. Thank you for your encouraging words. 3, 2, 1… xo
George Hicks says
Proud of you Danielle and can only imagine our Father in heaven is smiling warmly watching you.Thank you for your blog post, for demonstrating vulnerability so well and for being so committed to helping marriages grow.
danielle west says
George, awww your first sentence really moved me. I want nothing more to make God proud of me. I know that was and still can be part of the depression was thinking how disappointed He was in me for not being productive that day or being in a funk, or unable to rise above my thoughts. Thank you for your encouraging words. Russ and I have loved watching you and Kelly move from Thrive participants to Thrive leaders. Not only do other marriages benefit but we’ve watched how much it has impacted your family. We love you guys!
Russ West says
Words cannot adequately express how proud I am of my wife’s courage and vulnerability! Your constant desire to help others and make difference is so Christlike! I love you dearly!!!!
danielle west says
You are the rock star in this story. You have shouldered a lot with me and have carried me through these storms. I know it hasn’t been easy for you to watch me struggle. Thank you for listening to countless tearful worries and being so patient with me. God overwhelmed me with an incredible husband and father! Love you deeply!!
Chandler West says
I just got home and read your blog. Tears in my eyes I am so proud of you for using your platform to bring awareness to such an important topic. I know how gut wrenching your journey has been and I pray you find some weight lifted knowing how inspiring and authentic your story is to me and so many others. I would not be able to bounce back without you. I love you so much and am so so proud of you for posting.
danielle west says
Your words always have a way of filling up the empty place that I tried to keep so hidden. I’ve watched you grow into such a beautiful young woman who is more than just her gorgeous features. Your beauty runs through and through, Chandler. You have been there for me in countless ways, always a supportive conversation when I’ve been down, jokes to lift me up, or simply singing along to the radio in the car. Miss those daily sing alongs. haha You are someone who I can let the tears flow freely and feel only more loved afterwards. Love you bunches my sweet daughter!!
Jean FitzGerald says
Danielle you never cease to amaze me. I cannot imagine the tears you shed while writing this. But your willingness to be completely transparent (and oh so vulnerable) will be the balm someone will need for their wounds and will give them the courage to set aside their pride and seek help. Thank you for sharing ALL your story and not just the Instagram worthy moments. You rock sister!!!
danielle west says
Thanks so much, Jean! What a blessing it was to meet you last year. Guess Tim and Russ were keeping us all to themselves. I’ve loved getting to know you better via Thrive and now in our Mastermind. You exude such beauty and courage yourself in sharing your story. What you and Tim are building with these dinners for other couples who have lost children is life giving…literally. It’s like watching Romans 8:28 in action. I’m so sorry for the pain you have to endure daily and I’m so proud of how you are channeling it for good. Thanks for being such a great example to me and thank you for your encouraging words!!
Karen McAdams says
oh. my. gosh. that was so stinking amazing!! and brave. and powerful. and screams FREEDOM! i’m so incredibly sorry i didn’t know the extent of the battle u have been thru- wow just goes to show u how much we all walk around comparing everyone’s outside world with our own inside world and think we are the only ones! I love this post so much becuz so many people will have the courage to be honest, to say “me too”, to get help and to be comforted all because of your ONE voice. I relate to so much of your story on so many levels and admittedly was one who had been ashamed of my years of being on meds and i feel freed up from just reading this honestly!!! i was just listening to Brené Brown talk about how trust is “choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else. “ Today you chose to trust “us” with your heart and in doing so I gained a marble in my marble jar- because you just became the kind of person I know I can trust in return! Thanks for risking your heart ..you. are. some. kind. of. special.
danielle west says
Yes, freedom did come but it was unexpected. I was so apprehensive of sharing, what I thought was shameful behavior, that I was more worried about exposing myself than expecting anything good in return for myself. My biggest hope was for OTHERS walking a similar path. I was hopeful they would feel less alone and that together we can conquer this mental illness. I also wanted to release those who are extremely proud not to take medicine. It was me to the tenth degree!! I wanted others to give themselves permission to take meds before they become so distraught. So the freedom that came with posting this blog is icing on the cake! So GRATEFUL!! Another bright moment was how you shared your truth with me in taking meds. Thank you for freeing me up, as well. I’m so thankful our paths have crossed my dear trustworthy friend. xoxo
What a powerful testimony, Danielle! Thank you for sharing your story of with us.
danielle west says
Thank you for being the type of friend who is more like a sister. I’m so grateful for your friendship and eternal support!! xoxo