This is, by far, the hardest post I’ve ever written. I’ve drafted countless versions and dithered over whether to actually post it. So here I go.
I am officially declaring myself in the grips of depression.
It’s been a long, slow slide down, but having been down here before, I recognize the signs and symptoms.
When I get up in the morning, instead of looking forward to the day ahead, I start counting the hours until I can crawl back in to my sanctuary and pull the covers over my head.
Throughout my adult life, whenever I get stressed and my world spins out of control, I lose my appetite and stop eating. And while I’m still eating right now, it’s a daily struggle. I have no desire to eat at all – I even turned down cupcakes last week AND left another birthday party before cake was served. I never turn down baked goods.
I am a recluse by nature, but when I am depressed, I become even more housebound. Going to social events leaves me shaking and trembling with anxiety afterwards. Two weeks before Christmas, I went to a work meeting and left with my hands shaking and my teeth chattering so hard I could barely talk. I excused myself to the others by saying I was cold, but it was pure stress. It took me five minutes of sitting in the car before I could pull myself together to drive. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t want to go out with my closest friends.
More and more I’m finding myself short-tempered and impatient with the kids. I know that part of it is because of the prednisone I’m on for asthma, but it’s been going on for longer than I’ve been on the meds.
This has all been a long time coming. During the fall I kept hoping the next week would be better, and then the next and then the next. Then I pinned my hopes on the trip to New York City and the marathon to lift me out of the funk. And it did, for the five days I was gone. Then I came back to a mountain of laundry and a lice outbreak. As soon as I’d cleared up all the sheets and bedding and such, everyone got a stomach bug, and I had to start over again.
I feel like I can’t catch a break and like I’m barely keeping my head above the water.
I also feel like I’m being whiny and self-indulgent. I don’t have time for this. I have four kids, a husband, a house, a freelance job – I don’t have the time to sit around and feel sorry for myself. Besides, what do I have to be depressed about? I have a pretty good life. While it’s a bit on the small side, I have a nice, safe roof over my head. I don’t have to worry about where our next paycheck or meal is going to come from. I have four kid who are thriving, current illnesses aside. I have a husband, who, after 16 years together, is still my favorite person to hang out with. I have a loving, supportive family and a wealth of friends. What the hell is my problem?
But here I am. Depressed.
In the past few weeks, two of my closest friends - one face-to-face, one in a kind and thoughtful e-mail - suggested that maybe it was time for me to get some help because it is obvious that I’m not doing well.
And so Friday I made a call to a therapist. It was the hardest call I’ve made in a long, long time.
I hate admitting that I need help, and I really, really hate asking for help.
If I was asked for one word to describe myself, I’d pick capable. I’m the one who can handle things. I’m the one who can wrangle four kids while running a house and working part time. I’m the one who is supposed to be able to take whatever life throws at me. But lately, I can’t.
The funny thing is, now that I’ve taken the steps of admitting that I’m depressed – to myself, to my husband, to my family, to you – and making the call for help, I’m feeling a tiny bit better. What I’m dealing with does have a name and it does have a treatment. And I’ve taken the first two steps to getting back to being a better wife, mother, friend and self.
I’ve been down in this hole before, and I know I can climb out now that I’ve asked for help. It may take a while, but I’ll get there.