I need a break. I have multiple posts half written that strip me down, but they also include pieces of my family. This is me, and this is not for children.
I cannot smile right now. I mean I can. It’s the smile you see that looks like my face is cracking. It looks like my eyes are watering. I tell you it’s allergies, or my contacts. But it’s a clear day and I’m wearing glasses. I’ll tell you why. I just can’t.
It’s not just the fight with insurance, or creditors, or the unfinished floor that juts nails out at my feet, or the cat who is slowly dying, or the brakes that need replacing. It’s not the money, insurance or organic food… or, should I say, the lack-there-of. It’s the everyday that’s becoming harder to portray as OK, simply because I don’t want to let anyone know.
It’s embarrassing to not be in control of your feelings.
It’s been a decade.
A decade since I met Dave- almost exactly- during the second trimester at Johnson & Wales.
A decade since I lived, officially, in Huntingdon Valley.
A decade since I actively sought treatment for depression.
Depression is not just sadness in the eyes of a cartoon mom on a 3 minute commercial in between breaks of your favorite TV shows. It’s not an actor on the couch, or a concerned dad sipping tea unable to sleep. It’s the woman in the grocery store grabbing milk and chicken, then rushing home to cook dinner. She puts the kids to bed, watches a movie with her husband, maybe they’re intimate- because she loves him- but not because she loves herself. She’s the same woman that cries in the kitchen while getting herself a glass of water and is dry-eyed by the time she gets back to the bedroom. She is strong as long as she can be, and then isn’t only when she’s alone. During those times she can share with herself, because looking into the eyes of her child, she can see herself staring at her father. Knowing that he is smiling not because he is happy, but because she is.
Depression is me.
It’s been a decade.
This Monday evening I will join in my last beginning of mom’s group with Rhode Island New Moms. The groups were always for our children, but I feel like I need them for me. I need to know I am not alone. Three women I call sisters surround me with love. They are also doing something I’m not sure Dave and I can afford to do again. They are growing new life. This was the beginning of something inside me that darkened my days.
It began with less nights spent writing and more staring blankly at the computer screen, scrolling through college pictures, then after, my days in Virginia and DC, then early dating days with Dave when there was nothing that could stop us. The days we entertained the idea of shutting down B Sharp and running away. But we stayed, bought a house, married. We worked for it- but we didn’t work hard enough- because here we are. I dragged Dave into my debts, my inner turmoil and worst of all, it’s creeping back in.
The shame and sadness I left behind. The feeling of hopelessness. The shallow gasps for breath that leave me paralyzed with a racing heart and pain in my chest. The panic. The constant cleaning and then days of unmade beds. There are so many similarities, and one thing that is so glaringly different.
The light of my life wakes up from her nap.
Maaaaahm. MahMaaaah!It gets louder and I leap over the bed, dropping my book on the unfinished wood floor. I stub my toe on the 10 square feet of laminate flooring I have laid down in an attempt to convince myself it will someday be finished. I laugh at my gollywowgeefryingbananasthatwaswoah! phrasing that comes out. What I meant was #*&% that hurt!
But I have her.
I hold her in the crook of my arm and she falls back into a gentle sleep. Her sweat pooling on my arm as her curls tighten to her head. Her breathing becomes steady and her binky falls to the mattress. I want to sleep, but my mind is racing… How many days did I nap with my father like this? His heart only settling on OK thoughts when I was in his arms? The only peace being me, or my siblings. Even being in the arms of someone you love cannot compare to having a piece of you in your own limbs. It feels like wrapping the broken part of you up and keeping it safe. Not letting the fragile shell holding all those scattered pieces inside break apart onto the floor. For those few moments, you are protecting yourself by holding your child.
That’s my sadness. That crept up on me for days. Then weeks. It’s moved into a month now, and I know I am verging on the six weeks. That’s diagnosable as depression. That’s when the lack of mental health care in the country reminds me that if I feel sad, if I need help, my only option is checking myself in. That’s a dismal outlook. So I wait. I talk to friends and hope they don’t grow weary of my gloom, the same way I have. I want you gone, so GO!
I write this to let you know… every reader out there who reads more than my blog. All the blogs of all the parents who make light of the bad days, or never write to them at all. It’s OK to not have a marvelous Monday. It’s OK to have a downright shitty Monday. And Tuesday. It’s OK if Wednesday through Saturday look pretty rained out, too. Some weeks are like that. I also beg you, Reader, if it’s more than a week. When it blurs the lines into months, or when a friend starts to fade away. Reach out. I know you’re sick of the pain and the tears and the unexpected side effects of not being able to stop the sadness- even when the world’s most precious being happens to be your child. When it’s just one of those days, that turns into this feeling isn’t just a thing. When a good day becomes something you wait for and a bad day the inevitable. When sadness becomes more.
Ask for help.
And if you don’t know anyone, volunteer or write a letter campaigning for better mental health coverage in your state.
Someone out there needs you, and thinks they are alone.
Right now I hurt. I have asked for help and I am patiently awaiting the system to offer it to me. I am simply overwhelmed and sad.
Thankfully, I have a wonderful support group around me. I am not alone. Friends, family, and now strangers know how I feel.
I am sad.
I know how many roll their eyes at the prospect of therapy, but speaking to someone who has no relation to your circumstance and is speaking to you in a professional manner, can change your life. I’m not talking hippie-dippy hold hands and sing. I mean someone who listens to your thoughts, reorganizes them and helps you solve your own issues. Sure, handing me $20,000 would definitely be quicker, but the predicament in my heart would remain the same. I don’t love me anymore. Or my love has changed.
The same way we must reconnect with our partners, I must make peace with myself. Stop blaming myself for all the things that haven’t happened to Addie. Stop telling myself Dave would be better off touring the country as a musician and cherish our life. We may not have a lot, but a lot remains relative. I have two hands to hold, two loves to kiss and many more years of happiness to uncover.
So begins my Monday. It may not be marvelous, but it’s Monday. I have a life so many would envy, but yesterday, today and maybe tomorrow I will let the most awful words slip. I hate my life. I love my husband, my baby girl, this house we built from scraps and the family I have spread all over the US. I just hate how I feel inside. I hate the demons. I hate knowing the overwhelming feelings that stem from some combination of imbalance and layering life issues can bring me to a down-spiral. But I do not hate my life. I love every moment. It’s Monday, Damn it. And I’m gonna live it!