This past week has been especially difficult for me. I don’t know how it has been for Blake, but I have seriously been knocked flat. It’s not so much the events of the week, but it is all about how I have been coping – and I haven’t been coping well at all. My old companion, depression, has come for a visit and, frankly, she’s a lousy houseguest.
I’ve delved little into my own mental health, or anyone else’s in the family, since I began this blog. Blake obviously does not live in a vacuum where everyone else around him has perfect emotional health – far from it. We have our share of severe depression, anxiety and a whole host of other issues. My own brother shared with me only a year-and-a-half ago that he has struggled with OCD for a long time, but he has kept it hidden from us – that, however, is a story for another time.
A Depressed Teen
I have struggled on and off with depression at least since I was a teenager. I didn’t really understand what it was back then. I only knew that there were days when the only food I could stomach was chocolate chip mint ice cream from the ice cream shop across the street from my high school. It became a kind of joke for our yard supervisors.
“There she is again with her ice cream!” they’d joyfully proclaim, but nobody recognized that the happy looking food was my only way to put a bright spot in a day where I’d rather be in bed, away from everyone.
Indeed, almost no one knew of the days I spent unable to see anything bright on the horizon. On those days, I got out of bed to get to school, but got back in just as soon as I could. And there was absolutely nobody who knew of the times I’d contemplated ending it all – letting myself out of what felt like the never-ending pain and despair in my own mind. One well-timed step off the curb in front of an oncoming car. That would do it. Yet something held me back. I silently knew that something was not right – my feeling this way – and while it was my sister who was taken to therapy regularly for her own struggles, I knew that I belonged in that therapy room too.
As a young adult, I recognized that it was depression that I was dealing with. I got myself into treatment. Painful as the process was, the depressed times came less and less, and the fog that seemed ever present in my life lifted. I had no idea that it was possible to live life clear-headed, or to find beauty and meaning in small moments. And I was amazed to learn that, even if the dark moments came, I could see beyond them to better times that would surely come.
Bed Sounds So Good
This past week though, I’ve been slammed harder than I have in years. It started early in the week, with a vague tearfulness and a sense of self-doubt. It was exacerbated by Blake’s constant blaming my husband and I for things going wrong in his own life. He was two hours late for school one day because he over-slept, and it was our fault because we should have pulled him out of bed and “made” him get ready (no matter that we had been in his room three times telling him to get up). When he lost out on a sleepover with a friend because he had failed to finalize the plans (despite daily reminders that the deadline was coming), it was we who were “destroying” his friendship.
These are not unusual encounters in our regular dealings with Blake; it’s just that my resources were too depleted to be able to handle them well. I found myself withdrawing, descending deeper into the pit. When, one evening, I accidentally smacked my arm into something in the garage, I ended up in a crumpled heap, sobbing on the garage floor. I knew it wasn’t about the immediate pain; it was about the emotions that felt clogged up inside of me finally finding an escape route.
We attended a friend’s celebration yesterday as a family. It was one of those where the DJ works hard to get everyone up and participating. I tried hard to be in the moment, but all I could seem to do was feel the heaviness that is upon me. It did not help at all that Blake refused to even stay in the room and socialize. The food being served was all suspect and defied his rules, so he removed himself to the lobby to stay as far away from it as possible. My heavy heart broke a little more at the sight of my son, all alone for hours, unable to join the party because of the food in the room. I think of how hard it has to be to be him and the fog settles in a little deeper into my brain.
My hubby just took leave of me a moment ago after hugging me deeply and reassuring me that it will all get better. He had just taken a look at the title of this post.
“That’s a good title,” he told me. “That’s a good thing for you to be writing about.”
That’s what I am hoping, that by writing about it, it will release some of it from me and help me to move forward. He made me promise before he left that I will work out today. We both know that being active is one of my best tools for feeling a little better. So that is what I will do now. Move into the day and use the tools I have.
Until next time.