Self Care Saturday: From Survival to Thriving / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

After getting everyone dressed, fed, and ready for their make-up swim class, I ventured out for a 30 minute run. Swim dad—aka hubby—was on duty, which gave me a little time for myself before heading to NY to spend time with my folks. It was evident after a few minutes that I didn’t have a run in me, so I decided to walk for 3 miles. My Nike app was being finicky, but I know the 3 mile turnaround point in my neighborhood so I did not need to rely on my watch for metrics. 

As I walked, my senses were opened. I felt the warmth of the sun on my face and the gentle breeze intermittently blowing. I smelled the fresh soil, hydrangeas and even someone lighting up a BBQ grill. I heard the birds chirping and cars whizzing by through my trap music. Of all my senses, my eyes were the most engaged; I saw the vibrant colors of Spring—the bright blue sky, the green of the foliage, and the yellows, pinks, purples and whites blooming all round me. 

My physical senses weren’t the only ones opened. My spiritual senses were opened, too. With eyes, ears, and spirit opened, I was overcome with an overwhelming gratitude. I became grateful to God for life and the opportunity to experience the beauty and vibrancy and hope of Spring. This sounds trite, but for me, this is so real. See, in 2002 I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Many people experience blues due to the cold and short days of Winter, but 3 million people  in the US suffers depression during the Winter months. Although I wasn’t diagnosed until my late twenties, I suffered with SAD even as a young child. Real talk: even with my coping mechanisms and support, my depression has deepened since having children. For some reason, this felt like the longest Winter ever. Getting through the Winter is about surviving. Period. It’s about holding on to God and trusting that God will get me to Spring.

Back to my walk. Slowing down and being opened allowed me to recognize that I’ve survived Winter by the grace and mercy of God. This recognition was profound. Winter is not forever; Spring comes! Depression doesn’t have the final say; Joy abounds! Barenesss (not to be confused with barrenness) does not have the final say; Flowers bloom! Surviving is not the only way to be; Thriving is possible! And as we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, death does not have the final say; Life wins!