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I have ALWAYS struggled with my mental health. Even as a young teenager. Postpartum and circumstance pushed me to the edge, and was in the process of shoving me off. Three years ago someone extended a hand and pulled me back from the edge and into the best hug of my life. From that day forward, everything was extraordinary. Now I don't mean fancy cars or parties in big houses or anything along those lines. I mean he listened to me, he laughed with me, he made me feel safe, and he was everything I didn't have and everything I needed.
I thought my depression would go away. Here's everything I wanted. Every dream I had. Every wish I had sent to the stars was standing in front of me, but I was still so freaking sad. I couldn't turn it off, no matter what "deep breathing exercise" I did. I shoved all the emotions deep into my throat, swallowing hard and breathing through my nose to keep the depression vomit from spewing out like acid, and onto the ones that I love. It worked for a while. I forced a smile and kept myself busy.
Then one day, I wasn't able to. That day, I didn't get off the couch. I didn't eat. I couldn't explain what was wrong, because I didn't know. The tears streamed for no apparent reason. My body ached, my head screamed all my inadequacies, and my eyes ran like faucets. This went on for several weeks, with brief commercial breaks of happiness, then returned to our regularly scheduled program of inconsolable sadness. I felt like I was dying. But I had to be mom, and now I had to be a wife for the second time. Which was terrifying because I wasn't great at it the first time.
No one tells you how hard depression is to begin with, but then you add children. Man, that's hard. Kids do not understand why mommy can't seem to get out of bed. They don't understand why she's crying, but she's saying she's fine. They can't make it better and can you imagine how that must feel in their tiny little heads.
Some days my depression manifests itself as anger. The strong desire to make everything be quiet overtakes me, an impossible task with three small children. So I erupt, screaming for everything to stop. Just stop talking, stop touching me, stop being so damn loud. Then I see their little lights dim and the smiles leave their faces. Is it possible to be depressed about your depression? Seems to be. I have went to bed several nights vowing to be better, to not be such an angry mom, to remember that they are little, but it's hard.
My depression doesn't care that I am a mom. My depression doesn't care that I am a wife to an amazing husband. It still raises its ugly head and tells me I'm not good enough. "How could he love you?" it whispers in my ear. "You are everything he doesn't need. Look at all he does for you, and you stay in this miserable state. Everything would be better if you were gone." Maybe my depression is right.
My family and friends don't seem to understand. They see a happy person, beautiful kids, a loving husband, and a life people dream about. But some days I do not want to live. That is not to say that I want to die. I do not. However, occasionally my brain will whisper that no one would care if I did. Randomly, as I travel down a highway with my children buzzing in the backseat, holding my amazing husband's hand, I imagine throwing myself from the vehicle. I'm not suicidal, but I have suicidal thoughts.
My mom says, "Well, what are you sad about?" and I cannot tell her because I do not know. How can I tell the woman who gave me life, that more times than not, I do not want it. I try to say that it's hard for me, but she tells me that I need to look around at all the things I have to be grateful for. She mentions a God, that I do not believe in, and I have never felt more distant from her than I do in that moment. I know, I am broken.
A friend says, "Maybe getting out of the house will help?" She does not understand that the bed wraps giant invisible arms around me and I do not want to move. I dare not mention that I haven't moved from one spot on my couch for three days and that I can feel the clock on the living room wall ticking in my chest. A lump rises in my throat and threatens to choke the life out of me, as I type, "So much to do, rain check," knowing I will not get anything done. I know, I have disappointed her... again.
My husband smiles a weak smile and brushes a rage tear from my cheek. He says tomorrow will be better. He is probably right, but I cannot see past the inadequacies of today. How can someone be so forgiving when everyday is a battle? I can tell he is tired and blames himself, wishing to love the sadness away and everyday failing at a war that is not his to fight. Yet, everyday he suits up and takes on my demons. I know, he deserves more.
I take a deep breath, pull myself together, and go back into the house. My kids need me. I am stone cold as I go through the motions, supper... homework... bath... bedtime. I can see in their eyes, they know something is not right. I kiss tiny faces and whisper into the darkness, that tomorrow I will be better. I know, that they are going to one day, see through my promises of better days and a happier mom.
I am trying so hard, but I'm not sure it will ever matter. I can't make it stop. I can't make my brain be happier. The medication seems to hold it at bay most days and just as I feel like things may finally be better, it happens again and I have lost. I did not tell you this for sympathy or judgement. I am asking that if you know someone who suffers from depression, be kind. We know, we have made it hard to love us. We are not trying to burden you. We need you.