Every ounce of my being, simply wanted to just survive another day in the house, meet the bare minimum of my responsibilities as a mom( which ended up involving making a custom BLR- bacon lettuce ranch sand which, singing made up songs, and teaching a toddler how to color in the lines; smart), and just do NOTHING until my husband returned home from work to assist me in my bare minimum efforts; grasping straws for help is a normative these days. Just about the time that Derrick is making his way home and the weight of putting on “the best mom in the world face”, while resisting the temptation to give into the exhaustion depression makes me feel, sends me into a predictable state of intense fogginess; utter sadness that sweeps in faster than the speed of blinking my eyes. This was a top discussion in yesterday’s therapy session with AM. Why was I so routinely overcome by such an intense fog of sadness, around the same time each day, especially when my mood managed to stay at at least a stable 6 or 7 on the depression scale; functional?
Why were there nights, most recently, where I’m lying out face down on the floor in a puddle of tears, wailing from the daily frustration with these uncontrollable mood shifts? There are never any obvious triggers; occasionally I’m just mentally drained from caring for two kids two and under ( who wouldn’t be), but that’s nothing new, and I’ve been managing just fine until the last couple of weeks that have made me feel like I am taking a detour back to the beginning of this extremely long relapse (nearing 12 months in August). AM always seems to have the solution to problems such as this, that make me feel like I have accomplished nothing in this journey ( thank you negative nancy, aka depression; sarcasm). Redirecting your thought process from negative, which depression loves, to positive, is something that AM has told me is essential in making sure one bad thought doesn’t turn into one bad day or days. There’s some truth to this, because as soon as I gave into the frustrations of having to deal with this beast for over two years now, saying things like “I’m so tired of living like this”, only made the unequivocal wailing worse.
So, we analyzed what my thoughts may be in the evening or what stress I may be under, in order to figure out why I suddenly had so many evenings of swift shifts toward the negative in my mood. So often, as a mother, you do things and go above and beyond for your children, that subconsciously, you may not realize that your excessive need to do the most, can weigh heavily on a mind that is already stressed with searching for serotonin in a shallow stream every second of the day. There are days, well everyday that I am fortunate to be at home with my girls, at least while I have a hiatus from teaching at a local college, that I am like a hamster on a wheel. I do everything that is required of me without checking in with myself to see how I’m doing; the adult coloring book sits on the counter untouched, and the rain rain app is silenced on my phone, all because I feel “fine” enough and I don’t need it.
AM made a great point yesterday about this; because your subconscious may have a delayed reaction in how much stress you are putting on your already stressed mind throughout the day, it’s important to practice your coping mechanisms even when you are “fine”, like coloring or mindfulness, in order to try to combat that swift shift in your mood in the evenings. Hmmmm; now why didn’t I think of that? Well the obvious answer is that she’s been educated to recognize these things, but even without depression robbing me at times of my ability to reason, how important is it to just “check in” with yourself throughout the day? Am I doing too much? Should I lay the kids down for 10 minutes so I can breathe a little? Have I eaten?
These are all very good questions to ask yourself periodically throughout the day, even if you aren’t plagued with depression. I faintly recall this conversation between us seeming very familiar. I’m sure there are many things AM has had to repeat to me about how I can can cope with life with depression, but she never judges me for forgetting something I learned or shuns me for occasionally failing to resist falling into depression’s traps. Therapy is always my safe place and a reminder that no one is perfect, and that’s OK.
After talking for over 40 minutes about other topics of concern ( allowing myself to grieve the death of my grandparents, writing them letters, and planting them something in the garden to pay homage to their love for nature) , we finally got to the most important aspect of the hour long session; goals for the week. Goals are great and making plans are always a step in the right direction, but as the saying goes “when you make plans, God laughs at them”, the same can be said about how depression affects you meeting those goals. I always get excited about the opportunity to do things that are going to enhance my life and hopefully have a positive impact on my recovery, but when it comes to actually making the fist step to carrying out the task, the struggle becomes really real.
Today I woke up and had every intention of taking my girls outside, specifically to this cute little 35 acre garden and nursery in a nearby town, but as usual, the unshakable exhaustion that hovers over me like a cloud on a daily basis, coupled with the added exhaustion from attempting to be “normal mom”, put me in that predicament of struggle. The thought of getting dress was daunting, as much as getting the kids dressed to use the keys to drive the car to get to the place that was 30 minutes away, made me want to pass out in anguish. This is how unforgiving depression is. I made the effort to make a plan, but it was going to take heaven and earth to put that plan into action. As the kids finally laid down quietly to nap and I made a mental attempt to try and think about even leaving the house( at this point the nursery outing was out of the question), depression almost won, until the thing that always finds the smallest bit of motivation I have left and leeches onto it until my heart melts so much that my body moves, saves the day; the all consuming love for my girls.
When I think about them and how my actions of fighting against lack of motivation will benefit them, depression almost never wins; this was my saving grace today. Of course the beautifully colorful flower emoji I received from my new best friend ( he doesn’t know) David Self on Instagram ( I love his blog; it’s so quirky and real. Maybe that’s why I feel like he’s my new social media best friend), gave me a little motivation as well; how can you let down someone who cheers you on and gives you a virtual cartoon illustration of a bouquet of flowers?! Anyway, the love for my family and my love for doing things for others ( hence why I have created this blog), has always been the one safety raft that I have held onto at times when I didn’t want to fight against gravity. One day I hope to get to the point where I’m not only fighting for others, but also for myself; I’m ok with admitting this and I’m definitely ok with feeling this way right now (there’s freedom in honesty).
So with a melted heart and the added pep in my step, I got the kids in the car and put the key in the ignition with no idea of where we were going. I almost became satisfied with simply completing this task, but the excitement from my inquisitive two year old, asking me “where we going?!” (no typo), made me put the car in reverse to back out of the garage. I did it; I was out and away from the bed my brain wished I would have stayed in since the moment I opened my eyes this morning. With quick thinking, I remembered that there was a small playground on 49th that was right across from this little antique store I’ve always wanted to go to.
So that was our destination. By taking one step, I ended up going a mile, suddenly interested in and doing something I would have never wanted to do, had I not left the house. The interest is always there, it’s just the illness that masks its ability to breathe. We arrived in less than 10 minutes and I already had to denounce the thought of “going two places is too much work”. My legs moved toward the little antique shop as my mind fought earnestly to get back into control.
I enjoyed antiquing and watching my girls gleam with joy at the opportunity of going new places, and swinging on swings they have never swung on before. I let love be my motivation today, and love kept me from enduring another night, face down, in a puddle of tears.