Quietly Suffering

People often used to say to me, “You always look like you have it so together.” What they didn’t know was that I was quietly suffering. I had always felt that something was off, even when I was experiencing success in certain areas of my life. Deep inside, though, I was hurting. I would think, “I should be elated with this success!” But I wasn’t. I was frustrated and angry most of the time, and I would just shut down.

Quietly Suffering from Postpartum Depression

It took years for me to figure out that I was not the only one quietly suffering. I always felt like something was wrong with me. I battled a bad case of postpartum depression. But again, no one was talking about it in the nineties when I had my three kids. After I had my third child, I could not get out of bed. I was depleted, and my self-talk was miserable. I thought, “Why don’t I have the energy to do just the simple things?” Then I saw an interview in which Tom Cruise shamed Brooke Shields about her postpartum depression. After that, I did not want to speak up.

Brooke Shields decided to take antidepressants to battle her depression. I had such a mental fog after my third child, and my body hurt. Physically I felt like I had just run back-to-back marathons—which, in a way, I did. I had three kids in three and a half years, and I was hands-on mothering full time. I was tired every day.  I went low into dark places in my mind.

How I Woke Up

One day, a friend of mine invited me over and said, “Let me take you mountain biking. You need to move your body and get in the sun.” I went with him, and I felt so much better. I was not good at mountain biking, and I struggled climbing up the hills, but something about being outside sweating in the sun changed my low feelings. I also began my yoga journey in 1995, and in 1998 I revved that up too. I began training and started to find myself again.

I joined a running group and went on runs before yoga class. When I first started running, I could not run a mile! This whole new world opened up to me. This was my adventure racing phase. I have always been an athlete. I just forgot it somewhere along the way. I grew up figure skating in Los Angeles. This new journey brought me back to my true self. My attitude changed, and I started feeling purpose. I was a better mom. I had natural endorphins pumping through my body. I trained every day and started racing with a team of women in the High-Tech Series. I had planned on doing the Eco-Challenge in Borneo, Malaysia (the televised seven-day race Mark Burnett created before Survivor), but I had to cancel. The race would have kept me away for three weeks and made me miss my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. Plus, my “wasbund” was nervous about my getting injured.

Going Back Down the Rabbit Hole

When I stopped adventure racing in 2002, I began to quietly suffer again. I was so frustrated. I mean, I would go work out, but it wasn’t the same as training. Plus, around this time we moved our family to Park City, Utah. We thought our kids would love this environment—having access to nature, walking to school, taking the free city bus, riding bikes everywhere, and of course skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

When the first winter hit, I knew I was not doing well. I started to go down the rabbit hole again, and it got really bad. My wasbund and I had a disagreement about whether our young daughter should wear her jacket, and it was not a pleasant experience. I felt horrible and justified, and I know my kids were shocked because they had never seen us fight. Of course, this was not divorce material, but for me, it felt like the end of the world.

I began searching for everything and anything outside of myself to feel better. I started drinking heavily to self-medicate and knock myself out at night. Others might depend on prescriptions, sex, food, or shopping. Anything outside of myself could be used to make me feel better. I was not purpose driven at all. I was working two jobs. I was barely functioning for a long time. Fear and anxiety began to impede any good night’s sleep I tried to have.

If you are suffering quietly, I see you! I get it! I went so far down that rabbit hole that I ended up in lockdown for seventy-two hours; then I had to do a detox and finally go to rehab. I had hit rock bottom.

You Don’t Have to Suffer Quietly Anymore

I was suffering quietly but did not know how to ask for help because I was embarrassed that my life had gotten to the point that I almost died. I drank and took a lot of Xanax. I am not used to taking so much medication, so the pills took me down fast. How grateful I am that I can share this painful story in the hopes that if you are suffering, you know that you don’t have to do it alone. Please ask for help!

I prided myself on having all the answers and getting stuff done, so asking for help seemed weak and defeated. Please do not feel that way. You are not alone. If you are quietly suffering, please reach out.  Sign up for my newsletter. Today I am also a life coach, so you can talk with me. I have such great resources and angels in my life. I have been on this journey of healing since 2017. I still have had my ups and downs. But as I write this, I am not embarrassed anymore about my mistakes or failures. They got me to this point in my life, and I am so grateful.

Suffering quietly is not necessary nowadays. Hundreds of books, seminars, retreats, and rehabs for depression and trauma are readily available. I know because I have gone to a few. I also am listening to a new book every two weeks on Audible. I love it because I go back and relisten to the chapters and ideas that truly resonate with me. My current book is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I have listened to the section “Defining Good and Bad Values” ten times! Every time, I have a new aha moment.

Everyone knows the saying “Be kind. You never know what people are going through.” Be kind to yourself! Be kind to others. We are all on this path together. I love you all, and I’ve got you! If I can pull myself out of the rabbit hole, so can you. I did not ask for help, but you can.

Quietly suffering is a thing of the past. It is outdated. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I thank God every day for this journey and for all of you. We’ve got this!

I often say the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Deborah Driggs

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