Last summer I kinda broke.
It had been coming for a while. A slow downward spiral into depression.
I think after the suicide of the beloved actor Robin Williams depression really came under the spotlight. More and more people were coming out about their struggle with depression. Social media platforms were plastered with memes about depression. Thousands of blogs were written about depression. Nearly everyone was talking about depression and the real effects it has on people and those around them.
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The idea of depression that seems to be prevalent is that of sadness. The image of a sad person moping around through their every day trying to make it to the next day.
I’ve been depressed. I’ve been depressed like this. That overwhelming sadness. The lack of ability to function any more than I absolutely must. But typically this depression for me has been symptomatic of specific situations or events. Like when my grandfather died or when I graduated from high school and had to decide what to do with my life.
But the depression I went through this past summer wasn’t that sad kind. It wasn’t moping about or indifference to life. There wasn’t any specific event that triggered it. I wasn’t sad.
I was angry. I WAS ANGRY.
I was angry at my husband. I was angry at my kids. I was angry at my friends. I was angry at my mom, dad, sisters, in-laws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I was angry at the grocery store clerk. I was angry at the other drivers on the road. I was angry at my shoes, pants, shirts, and underwear. I was angry at the radio DJ. I was angry at Facebook. I was angry at the world and everything in it. I was angry at God, the Heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars… you get the idea here.
My anger was palpable. Everyone around me could feel it and those closest to me were responding to it… with anger. My kids were angry with me and with each other. My husband and I were angry at each other. I had more than one conflict with neighbors and friends and that poor grocery store clerk.
Some of my anger was based in reason. I wasn’t just angry to be angry. But some of my anger was irrational reactions to my anger at large. I was taking it out on my kids and the grocery store clerk because I couldn’t say what I wanted or needed to the people that I was genuinely angry at. I don’t like conflict. I avoid it. But that means bottling it up and letting it fester. And you know what happens with that eventually.
By July, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Besides being angry at the world at large, I was overeating (and gaining weight like crazy). I couldn’t sleep at night which meant I was overly tired every day and this certainly compounded the problem. I was ignoring healthy habits like bathing and cleaning the house. I was beyond the point of being “a hot mess”. I was just a mess.
I went to the doctor. Now, I could have tried some natural remedies like oils, aroma therapy, etc., but I don’t think like that. Plus, I needed something more immediate. I needed a heavy dose of valium… like stat.
On the day of my appointment I was so nervous. What would the doctor say? Would I be able to tell her? Even if I was able to tell her, could I tell her everything? Could I be as blunt as I needed to be? Would she understand the depths of my anger?
As I sat there, nervously awaiting her to come in I had that giant rock in my throat. You know the one. The one that blocks anything but tears and sobs from coming out. I had to hold onto that rock and keep the tears back through the nurses taking my vitals (even the 4 times they had to take my blood pressure because for some reason I am actually dead and frequently doctors and nurses can’t find my blood pressure.)
Finally, she came in. We talked about me- who I was, what my life was like, and several of the “other issues” I wanted to address, then I took a deep trembling breath and said with great hesitation… “I am very angry. All. The. Time.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I am angry. Like. I hate my family. I hate my kids. I hate my husband. I hate the poor grocery clerk I yelled at last week.”
Then she said something that I didn’t expect. Something that took me by surprise.
She said, “This is really normal for the stay-at-home mom. You don’t know how many moms I see that say the exact same thing.”
Nope. I didn’t expect that. I mean, I knew that I wasn’t the only one in the world that suffered this, but I thought that maybe mine wasn’t a common case of depression. Really, I hadn’t even labeled it as depression. My doctor told me it was depression. A common type of depression that stay-at-home parents get, especially those dealing with children under 3 (I had 2). A type of depression extremely common to the homeschool parent. She said that it has a lot of factors, but some of those factors being:
- Lack of sleep- being up frequently with babies/toddlers, and never reaching a good REM cycle.
- Lack of healthy eating- eating on the run while trying to take care of the kids.
- Lack of “me time”- SAH and Homeschool parents are frequently 24/7 parents with their partner not stepping up to take over because we all enjoy our precious children so much that spending every second of every day with them IS our “me time,” right?
- Lack of identity- I am The Husband’s wife and The kids’ mom, but who am I without them?
- Lack of opportunity to be adults- when you spend 24/7 with your kids you miss out on the time when you talk with grown-ups. The few times you do talk with grown-ups, what are you talking about? Kids
The question now was how to alleviate these problems so I could regain my sanity. I’m a pretty laid back person naturally. My patience is not endless, but certainly, I have always had a long fuse. How do I become ME again?
It wasn’t an easy answer. First, the doctor put me on an antidepressant. After a month on it, I could feel a significant difference but still asked to up my dose. My new dose was perfect. I could feel a lot of the old me coming back.
The second part was I had to tell The Husband that our current life wasn’t working for me. I needed some changes. I needed some sleep. I needed some ME time. I needed some support from him to take on the kids. I needed some time to be a grown-up. He stepped right up to the plate. He kept the kids overnight so I could take my Oldest back to college. He started waking up with the kids one weekend day every week so I could sleep in. He has the kids for my once a month girls’ night out. And most importantly, he recognizes that my sanity depends on these times. He doesn’t always see when I need time in the immediate, but when I say, “Hey. I need an hour.” He really tries to accommodate.
The third part has been reaching out to make friends. I am a very social person. I thrive on my relationships and time spent with others. Facebook likes and connections on Snapchat are not enough for me. I need to talk to people- on the phone or in-person for long conversations. I’m happy to see family photos plastered on Instagram, but I need to hang out with the family, love on the baby, pet those furry children. I want to make people laugh (I’m funny, have you noticed that?). I want to be a shoulder to cry on. I want to hug and kiss and hold hands. Yes, my friends. Absolutely.
I have been reaching out. This past year I have really been reaching out and I have made some wonderful new friends. I have rekindled with some old friends. I have built stronger friendships with current friends. I have been blessed with some of the most wonderful women to grace my life. They are strong, intelligent, beautiful (inside and out), fearless, influential, amazing women. How I have lived my life without these women in my life until now… well, it explains a lot of my early failures in life and why now I finally feel powerful within myself.
This is the perfect segue to the last part of my keeping my sanity- rebuilding my sense of self. A lot has gone into tearing me down. Slowly, through the vision of others, I am beginning to see how wonderful I am. Those wonderful women I spoke of earlier constantly remind me how awesome they think I am. I have an inner voice in my oldest daughter always telling me how much I am loved even when her siblings are still too young to appreciate me. Despite how crazy some of my notions are, my husband continues to support and encourage me to live to the fullest potential. My parents remind me how proud they are of me and who I am and what I have, can, and will accomplish.
I am beginning to remember who I am. The funny, stupidly sarcastic, laid back person that I used to be. I have found my silly and fun side and I let it shine. The ME that I lost is finding her way back. Every day I am closer and closer to the happy ME; the ME before anger took over.