I crawled out of bed in my short robe with my hair tied up as my girlfriend sat in my bed watching me load laundry into a basket. She was getting to see something I let very few people see (and it wasn’t just the cellulite on my butt that was poking out.) I turned to look at her and said…”This is my depression…this is what it looks like.” With that sentence, I waved my arm around my bedroom, motioning to the heaps of laundry and stacks of dvds just sitting…waiting for someone to take care of them. She nodded her head. After several years of friendship, I knew she wouldn’t judge me and it was safe safe to let her into that space. You see…when I start falling down the rabbit hole, the whole world can think I am holding it together but behind the bedroom door a different story is told.
Depression and anxiety…when you say them together you think they could be wonder heros like Batman and Robin or something like that. I find that most who deal with one of these conditions are a wonder…when you deal with both you’re a fucking hero. I had anxiety growing up. I think it was a result of some of the situations and conditions I had to deal with as a child and teenager. I found as I aged it tended to get worse. It wasn’t always an overwhelming worry but more of a cement truck that would randomly decide to stop and back up on my chest slowly crushing me with all of its force. I would scream for help begging to be released from the crushing weight but it would only be in my head. Sometimes, my heart would be beating so hard I wouldn’t know why nobody else could hear it. Everyone would be asking me to do something and their worlds would whirl around and nothing would make sense…I would do everything I could to get everything done with a smile on my face but every ounce of me just knew I was failing…and letting everyone down…because…that.is.what.I.do.
….and DEPRESSION…I am a happy person. My nickname is Sunshine for fuck’s sake. I never had depression growing up. I was the girl who made everyone happy. I had jokes. I would just get sad every once in awhile. It is normal to lock yourself in the bathroom so nobody sees you cry. Nobody wants to see the happy girl cry. Sunshine can’t have storms. Every time I would go to the doctor and fill out the depression screening, I was “fine.” The more fine I was on the outside side…the more my body was screaming to be saved on the inside.
And one day, like Alice I fell down the rabbit’s hole. I was the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat and Queen of Hearts rolled into one. I learned quickly what it is like to feel like in a sea of darkness struggling to find any glimpse of light. The only thing I’ve ever found I am really good at is being a Mom. I’m not the fastest or smartest or prettiest girl. I will never make a million dollars or be famous. I am a good cook and can make you laugh but…I am a GREAT mom. That being said my body is not built to have babies. No matter how much I want them. 12 years ago today, at 1:14 pm my sweet daughter Elizabeth was born into Heaven. My pregnancy tried to take both of our lives and the hospital thought mine was more important. My placenta had ruptured and there was no way to save us both.
For the following 4 months, I was sad but there were no storms for this Sunshine. Then one day it got dark…and that darkness stayed. It stayed for a long time. People didn’t notice because I still was happy and I still cracked jokes. Inside I was dying. This is when I learned what my depression looks like. My depression looks like lack of self care. I stop painting my nails…because really…who cares if my hands and feet look nice? I mean, I like it but I feel like shit anyway and it’s just one more thing to do. My pretty simple makeup routine goes to just mascara and lip gloss…to just lip gloss. 10 more minutes sleep. If I don’t get my haircut, I can just wear a ponytail. I stop doing laundry for myself…as long as I have yoga pants and some sweatshirts to hide in.
I went from being joyous and outgoing to just wanting to fade away. The world still saw a happy me but inside I was dead. People would ask how I was doing…or if they hadn’t seen me in a long time how my baby was and I would politely smile and say I was fine or tell them there had been complications. Inside I felt like a rotting tree…shriveling with each question. I was sure the decay from any question would be the one that would take me to the ground.
Life started to seep back into my roots though. I had some rebirth. There was a Spring. The time came when I began to feel things and I wasn’t begging for sleep to come. However, anxiety and depression have attached themselves to me like those 5 extra pounds we always say we are going to lose after Christmas. We are going to live a long life together. We struggle with each other. We fight. We cry. We are the bitchy roommates who leave nasty notes about leaving the cap off of the toothpaste. The month of May, I always really hate them. Nevertheless, I know we are going to spend our lives together.
The thing I have learned is I don’t have to always let them win. I can fight back. I can try to do everything I can to keep control of my life. Right now, I am doing that by finding joy in the little things. I am getting some laundry done. I’m making sure I get to the doctor’s for the things I need to. Find happiness where you can…chat up your baristas, snap silly pictures, go for a drive, visit a waterfall…find peace wherever you can…AND BE OKAY WITH IT.