Several months before my mom passed away, I decided it would be in my best interest (and my family's best interest) if I sought help for some feelings of depression that I had been experiencing.
I told my husband that I was thinking of talking to a therapist, that I needed to work through some stuff that had been building...that an inexplicable sadness was overtaking me, overwhelming me.
I am no stranger to these feelings, yet I have always struggled with reaching out for help.
I've become quite "good" at pushing through and sucking it up...
I've become quite good at recognizing depression within myself, yet I've often tricked myself into thinking a series of hard rides or challenging runs or a stint in the yoga studio will absolve me of depression.
While those "tools" are certainly helpful and healthy outlets, those strategies aren't always enough on their own.
I kept putting off seeing a therapist. I continued to ride/run/move...busy myself with my kids...busy myself with tasks and activities.
Then, my mom died and the distractions felt like work.
My kids and my husband were getting the worst of me and I knew it was time to make the dreaded call.
I began seeing a therapist weekly and shortly thereafter began taking a low dose antidepressant under the care of my family doctor.
I felt better knowing I was moving in a healthier direction.
I have limited experience with antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds; I have taken them in the short term over the years and realize they are something I will likely need sometimes throughout my life to pull me out of times like this. When the sadness is bigger than me. When the sadness robs me of things that normally bring me comfort and joy.
I do regret, wholeheartedly, never having talked to my mom about this because she struggled with depression, herself.
The difference is, she never hid it from us.
I was always afraid to share my own struggles with her because I didn't want to burden her.
I didn't want her to consider for one second that it could be remotely her fault in some way, as depression has genetic components and runs in families (and wow, was/is it rampant in her family).
That's ridiculous, right??
I know she wouldn't have judged me, I know she could have offered some insight...we could have commiserated. My mom was such a compassionate, understanding woman...I could talk to her about anything, but was always so afraid of disappointing her (or either of my parents for that matter...remember when it took me nearly six MONTHS to tell them I was getting divorced?? I can almost laugh about that now...)
She would have done anything to help me.
I know that.
I never talked to either of my parents, or really anyone close to me about my anxiety or depression.
I touched on it during bad bouts of insomnia or when I was going through my divorce...but, I never said the word. I never admitted that I was diagnosed or had any treatment.
Part of me was afraid it would be dismissed as me not being able to handle my shit...again, ridiculous, right?
As a parent myself, I want my children to know they don't have to hide anything from me and that if they need help, I will never judge or question it or assume that they just can't cope with rough times.
My sadness, my depression, is not circumstantial or reactionary.
It comes and goes in inexplicable waves; sometimes it hits hardest when everything is in place, when everything is fine.
This time, I happened to be in the midst of it when my mom died...
So, yeah, the timing sucked.
I've been dutifully taking my meds (adjusting to my meds, which is always a challenge) and seeing my therapist.
I'd been feeling productive...functioning.
Then, Sunday night, I had a breakdown of sorts.
I woke up at midnight (per the norm) feeling extremely agitated and anxious (not the norm).
While I've spent many nights over the past six or so weeks not sleeping through the night, this was a completely different and hopeless feeling.
I felt more panicked and rage-y than I'd ever felt.
I woke Bill and upon describing what I was feeling, it seemed as though I was talking about somebody else.
I felt scared, distrustful, paranoid...
I couldn't discern what was real and what was a dream...
Physically, I was sweating and shaky.
Mostly, I was just frightened and wanted to escape or hide...in short, I felt...crazed.
By Monday morning, I wouldn't leave my bed.
I know there were phone calls to my family doctor and my therapist. Much of Sunday night was a blur and I continued to just lay in bed...staring out the window.
Ignoring the sounds of my kids starting their day.
I left my bed to take a bath and use the bathroom and spent the rest of the day and night hiding from my family in my room.
Tuesday night, at the urging of my doctor, Bill took me to see a psychiatrist.
We talked about some background information.
We talked about my "history"...about my family...about my mom's death...about my brother.
"What do you hope to get out of this?" he asked.
"I just...want to be able to function more fully to better take care of myself and my kids."
I know there is no quick fix.
As we walked out of his office, I couldn't help feeling defeated knowing I would still be the same the next morning. And the morning after that. And so on...
That's the hardest part.
There are times when bad shit happens and I can just put one foot in front of the other, face the day, do what needs to be done...move forward.
This time, it is bigger than me, though.
If I could put one foot in front of the other, face the day, do what needs to be done...move forward...
I asked Bill, in frustration, "What makes me not able to just get through something without all this 'help', without all these concessions? How come some people don't 'have' this?"
He said, "That's like asking why all people don't look the same."
I've been here before and I'll be here again...
and the best thing to have come out of this is that I don't feel like it's something I need to hide anymore.