Thursday, April 14, 2011

It is what it is.

Oh God. Here it comes again.

After several days where it seemed to have abated, it is pushing up through the cracks like filthy ground water. I can feel it wetting me, and turning me back into the monster who peers out of her cave at the world but never joins it, and feeds on its own misery.

I have been fighting my depression for most of my life. Even as a kid I remember being somber and morose. I was disappointed a lot. I always anticipated the worst. And as an adult that sort of “realism” won me the nickname “little black cloud” because I was always there to point out how quickly things could go wrong.

I have tried to find joy in the little things. I have managed on a few occasions to claw myself out of this vacuum and to actually breathe the air of normalcy. I gathered enough energy to make a go of moving across the country once; of going to college another time. I even tried my hand being a mother. But those times where I was doing more than just barely functioning were always suddenly drowned in a surge of mud that seemed to pour in out of nowhere and solidify itself before I had a chance to fight through it.

Every so often, as happened last week, I have a break. I have a few days where the going is not quite so tough. I can get out of bed without having to convince myself that there’s something worthwhile outside my dark room. I manage to get dressed and go to work and even play with my daughter without tripping all over myself and making everyone miserable in the process. I am a good mother then, and we read together and I hold her and stroke her hair. She doesn’t worry that I am going to start yelling over little misdeeds and she sometimes seems surprised when I laugh as she drops her (yet another) glass of milk. I love being that woman.

Unfortunately, that is not the person I usually am. Medication only seems to work for a little while. Therapy helps me to have longer stretches of sanity but then I seem to always fall further back than where I started – more sad, more angry, less Me. And I have to wonder, every time: “What did I do now to make this come back? Because I was okay yesterday, but today I am not. “

What’s worse is that it isn’t just all about me anymore. I am no longer the only one suffering, which makes my prognosis that much more unbearable. You see, I lived through my mother’s grueling struggle with this same demon. I watched her shrivel and atrophy so that she could barely move. I saw how she could transform into someone I hated at the drop of a hat. And I swore that I would never do that to my own. Not just because it is cruel and debilitating, but because I never want my baby to have to face this creature in her own world. And aren’t I simply passing all my failures to her?

Instead I hide. My mother kept her sadness out in the open and exposed us all to the constant derangement of drinking and rage and compulsive cleaning. I like to run; to put myself back into bed where I can’t hurt anyone with the things I do to them. Instead I only hurt them with the things I fail to do.

My mother never taught me to swim. She never made me take lessons from anyone else, either. And my whole life I have never felt like I can handle water that is deeper than a bath. This is not only indicative of her inability to give me the basic life skill that could save me, but also a fitting metaphor for the fact that I feel helpless and defenseless against the rising waters that threaten to overwhelm me and I know that I can learn how but I can’t get out of the deep end long enough to catch my breath. I don’t want to be rescued. I just want to be able to swim.

I want my girl to know how to swim.

I want to be able to teach her.


  1. I have the same issues. I suffer from severe depression and I am so tired of it. Right now I am so tired of fighting I want to give up. But I don't want my kids to have the same childhood I had. I want them to remember going to the park and having fun with their mother. And I want to have fun too.

  2. You know, I realized recently that I do not think my mother EVER took me to the park when I was a kid. I always went with the older kids in my neighborhood. Then my parents bought me a swing set, and I played on that without them too...

  3. You should find a hobby/class/activity that is something that exhilarates YOU and make time for it. Something crazy you would have done in your 20's. My mom was really depressed too. Looking back, she never had any friends or outside interests, just the kids.

  4. Oh, you are so not alone in your struggles with this. I hope you find some contentment soon. I gave you an award at my site...will be up in a few!

  5. Oh honey. I can't pretend to know what you are dealing with. I have never been thru it.

    I know that it is never too late and you and your daughter can learn to swim.

  6. I have severe depression myself, and the advice about finding some hobby that "you" like would be great. There's one problem. Many times, during the worst of depression, you don't think very rationally and everything seems impossible to do. At least, that's the way it is for me, anyway. I did find out that I have a low thyroid hormone level that caused part of the problem. It didn't solve the depression completely, since it's been treated, but it doesn't seem as bad. I also have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Last, I have sleep hypopnea. Long way to my point, a lot of my depression symptoms stem from medical problems. Get checked if you can. It would stink if you had some easily treatable problem and you could feel better, and you're not getting checked.

  7. *HUGS*

    I wish I was there so I could be there for you for real. Instead all I can do is read your words, feel your sadness, and try to come up with something to write that will convey my empathy and maybe offer some advice that doesn't come off as hollow or clueless. But I don't have any advice for you, I don't think. Medication, therapy - the only thing I can say is seek out help with becoming the kind of mother you want to be and kick depression's ass.

    Is there anything you can think of that, imagining it in your head, would make dealing with the depression easier, or maybe help it to be less severe? I mean, even the obvious things one might think of, like money or endless supplies of wine and chocolate? Do you need more friends around you?

    Because I'm just thinking that if you could look at this in baby steps - choose one thing that you think might make you feel better and work toward that one goal for now, not only might it help ease some of the depression and give you some motivation, but I'm also thinking that having that goal might take away some of that frustration of "Every day is exactly the same" in motherhood. Which makes ALL of us climb the friggin' walls.

  8. I love you guys...seriously. The low energy is really the worst part because I KNOW that there are some things I can do (exercise, getting out of the house more) that would help and yet it is just SOOOOOO exhausting. I had a thyroid test last month and am going to my follow up appointment to get the results next week. With no insurance, it's all out of pocket so I have to sort of narrow it down one thing at a time. I secretly HOPE it's a thyroid thing because I know there's a treatment for that.

    JLK: Yes, part of the problem is that I feel very alone. I have never been someone with a lot of friends and I really don't reach out when I should because I don't feel that close to anyone. This is a focus of the therapy.

    I DID just start seeing someone a therapist and so I am (slightly) hopeful that I can drag myself out of this. But right now, it just feels so bad.

    And I am combatting the guilt that I feel for being an asshole whiner when so many people are so much worse off than I am. Because although I KNOW I am entitled to my feelings, I still FEEL like a bitchy whiner.

  9. Oh, and so that you know, sometimes, the T3 and T4 thyroid tests can be wrong. They tested me for years using those tests and found nothing wrong, but I kept having symptoms of a thyroid problem, so they tested my TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone levels, and it was high. That's how they found out the the thyroid hormone level was low. So, just because they say nothing is wrong doesn't mean that it's true. I speculate that maybe they wanted more money, but who knows.

  10. I would love to comment something amazingly insightful, but I am so with you right now. And every time I try to type something I delete it all and think, what's the point? Hopefully you know by now that you are not alone in this. That I am sitting on my couch staring into space wondering what the hell I am going to do with my kids and how to pretend that everything is OK so they don't grow up telling stories about their mom being a freak. And then I think that I should talk to someone but who the hell wants to listen to me whine? No one. Because everyone else is fine and they have no clue what is going on in your head. Maybe I should just give you my number. Anyway. I'm sending hugs from afar, and hoping that there are answers in the tests. I just had my bloodwork done and I'm hoping that maybe it's anemia! I would take a physical illness with a cure over this any day.

    And isn't it just so shitty that as soon as you finish a tirade about how much life is beating you down and you can't catch your breath and why can't you just wake up earlier and go to the damn GYM because you KNOW it will help, then you think about the people of Japan, or the poor children starving all over the world and think....well, look what a selfish cow I am! FANTASTIC!!!! You ARE entitled to your feelings. Keep repeating that. And grab on tight to those wonderful moments...the ones that keep you going. Try not to let them fade!

  11. Hi Selena, found you over at the Mom Pledge Community.

    Your post really struck a cord, because 5 months after my daughter was born (that was over 6 years ago), I was diagnosed as having Postpartum Psychosis. I didn't want to come out of my bed, I hate looking at myself in the mirror, I was filled with guilt for being such a horrible mom, and I was crying basically throughout my waking hours. I also developed OCD. I scrubbed my face and body like there's no tomorrow. Before long, my face, especially, was full of blisters. I had scrubbed it so much that a mere poke from my baby's fingers would make my skin bleed. On top of all that, I was depressed, spiraling out of control to the point where I just felt like shriveling up and die.

    It is still very hard for me to talk about it. Even to my close friends, they would've never guessed that I went through all that. Outwardly, I've always been the kind of person who likes to laugh at herself. Even now, I find myself always seeing the funny side of things while talking about unpleasant stuff.

    Today, through therapy and medications (I'm still taking meds right now), I find that to a certain extent, my condition is stable. Even then I still have "episodes" where I would have a nervous breakdown or panic attack.

    I wish you all the best! I know it's a pain in the butt, but don't stop trying to find a good therapist and don't give up. Today, despite the ugly memories surrounding my daughter's birth, I thank God everyday for giving me her. She's the best thing that's ever happened to me, and she's the reason why I want to be better.

    Big hug,

  12. That's the hardest part for me with my depression. I feel guilty feeling the way I do because rationally, there's so much else that could be wrong in my life, and so many others who are worse off. Which in turn makes me more depressed, etc etc.

    Hope everything goes well for you and Ms. Lila, miss you guys!


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