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You Probably Didn’t Know I Was Depressed

I saw my doctor in August. He let me speak. He asked relevant questions. He asked questions about my past, about the last time I felt this low even though it was 15 years ago. I was a teenager and spending too much time on the computer at night. “How did you get out of it?” “Ha!”, I said, surprised to be saying it out loud, “I found God. Whether that was the catalyst or not, that’s what happened”. I didn’t think my dark experience as a teenager was relevant until he asked me about it. Of course it was relevant. It was real. It was depression.

He let me cry. He gave me a questionnaire to answer honestly. Questions like “In the last 2 – 3 months have you felt like you were a burden to your family: 1. Rarely 2. Sometimes 3. Most of the time 4. Always.” Questions that were hard to answer. He left me alone to answer these questions. I cried the entire way through because… because even though I was in the doctor’s office seeking help I still didn’t want to admit that I needed help.

Even when he said “so, what do you expect to come from this appointment?” I was still hesitant to say blatantly “I need help. I don’t know what that help looks like but I have tried all my usual tricks and I am in a very dark place that I cannot get out of.”

It had been nearly a year for me of trying to convince myself that my depression was situational. It would go away when winter was over, when I lost the last 10 pounds, when we could play outside again, when we started eating fresh seasonal food, when something else happened. I couldn’t blame it on the situation when I started hearing my thoughts lie to me. When my brain started to tell me that my family would be better off if I moved out, or that my friends were only pretending to like me because they liked Adam, or that my best friend should not be burdened with my struggle because she would probably use it against me to steal my life. Writing it now makes me feel just plain ridiculous but in that cloud of fog those thoughts were so real.

I had been sitting with my head in this dark fog for the last year and you probably didn’t know. I was still hosting board game nights regularly. I was still reaching out to friends for play dates and drinks (even if less frequently). I was laughing and smiling when it seemed appropriate to do so. I was polite and kind to others. But when I was home I was tired. I was so tired all the time because I was using any emotional energy I had to put on a brave face for others. I was finding myself unable to get off the couch to even do the dishes. I would just sit there for 20, 30, 45 minutes staring blankly at the floor while petting the dog, willing myself to just get up and be an adult. I stopped crafting and the frequency of my craft nights dwindled.

I wasn’t talking about it because my brain was telling me that no one wanted to hear about it or that I was making a big deal of nothing. Everyone gets sad and tired sometimes. Especially moms.

I started taking an SSRI about 6 weeks ago. Temporary side-effects aside, I could feel the cloud lifting off my head. I was smiling because… I was happy. I was laughing because something was funny. I was singing. I hadn’t realized that I had stopped singing. I was playing with my kid again instead of counting down the minutes until she was in bed and I could stop faking it.

Most importantly I can hear the lies for what they are: lies. My best friend is my best friend again. We are giggling together and being silly and talking about something other than the mundane details. We are loving each other again. I’m connecting with Adam again in a way I didn’t realize had gone away.

The only person whom I had the courage to mention my feelings was Adam. And if I could have avoided that, I would have because depression told me that he wouldn’t care. I had to tell him because we live together and by 9 pm I couldn’t hold it together anymore. He watched me break down more times than I could count and supported me in every effort to feel better. He was as scared as I was and I commend him for being my strong rock while I wept on the floor trying to describe why I was so tired all the fucking time.

I’m still hesitant to write about this. It still makes me nervous to tell anyone. It’s such a taboo subject. It still makes me feel like there are girls calling me an attention seeker. But I need to talk about it because someone like me needs to read about it. Needs to know that there is help. That your brain is lying to you. Depression LIES to you.

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Vocal and brave. Being vocal and brave. I am being vocal and brave.

It’s been roughly 10 months since I first started to describe myself as “exhausted” every day. Every single day.

In December I was blaming the course I was taking for making me exhausted – plus Christmas plus Beans being a handful plus winter approaching. It was justifiable.

In January my father-in-law died suddenly. Enough said.

In February Adam and I went on a date where we learned to make sushi. Instead of having such a great time all evening I had to rally myself to get dressed, go, be cheerful, and not cry when 10:00 pm hit because it had all been so much. I blamed the lack of vitamin D.

In March I made a joke that I should just stop saying I’m tired because it’s really my constant state of being.

In April I had a breakdown because I couldn’t fathom how other adult couples were keeping their lives afloat – I blamed my workload: it was the end of tax season after all.

In June I made a doctor’s appointment because there is no way that other adults are this tired all the time. There must be something wrong. We did blood work, he asked me if I was happy (which I answered “yes” because I am, technically. Other than this fucking exhaustion). My blood work came back normal. I swore at the nurse who told me this over the phone – I wanted an easy solution.

In July I began to think that maybe I’m not getting enough exercise. I will start doing Barre classes. Adam and I did a 16 km hiking/camping trip. I went for a run. I biked to work. No change to report. I had days where it took 20 mins to convince myself to stop sitting on the couch (literally doing nothing but resting my hand on the dog) and just put the toys away. I stopped crafting. I stopped planning. I stopped caring about what my house looked like (pictures have been falling off the walls and I don’t care about it enough to get new hooks). I stopped initiating board games. I stopped talking to my best friend because it was easier than admitting that I didn’t have the emotional energy for her.

In August I began having thoughts like “I’m trapped in this life” and “It would be easier on everyone if you left” and “There’s too much to do. You are a failure because you can’t get it all done”. This was my darkest moment. Luckily I have been educated enough to have recognized that these were lies. I know as fact that I love my life, my husband, kid, family and friends love me, and no one can get it all done (it’s not just me).

So, this afternoon I have a doctor’s appointment where I will try to fight my brain and tell my doctor that I need help. My brain will not convince me that this is my fault and that I am beyond help. I will fight for myself and if my doctor won’t listen I will find another doctor. I need help.

Last month was the darkest month I have ever experienced and it shouldn’t have been. It was filled with love, laughter, friends, family, sunshine, fresh air and a hundred other things I enjoy but I couldn’t enjoy it properly because there was this dark cloud – it looms over and around my head, clouding my judgement of myself, not allowing me to fully enjoy my life.

I want to fully enjoy my life and I’m ready for some medical help. I cannot do this on my own and I need someone to help me in a way that my husband, friends and family cannot. Let’s see how today goes.

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Dear Daughter, You are almost 2.

I want to capture this moment for myself to remember how you were when you were almost 2.

You are a spectacular creature. You are determined, strong willed, loving, generous, smart, clever and sweet.

You are determined. You are currently pushing all the boundaries you can find. This week we fought with you about whether you could sit on the seat in the canoe or if you had to sit on the floor. You can’t sit on the seat of the canoe until you are big enough to understand the movement of the canoe and that you could fall into the water if you reach too far. You fought with us about how close you can walk to the side of the road and if you could walk in the road. “No cars coming, Mommy.” I hope one day you understand that that was not the point.

You are strong willed and independent. We haven’t done up your car seat buckles in months because it’s honestly not worth the fight. I will gladly wait 10-20 minutes for you to do it yourself if I can avoid you crying all the way home. You’ve been walking up and down the stairs from the moment you realized you were physically capable. It’s been a terrifying 6 months.

You are loving and sweet. The way you hug the dog and say very sweetly “my Alice” will never get old. I will never forget the first time you ran up to me when I picked you up at daycare and yelled “my mommy is here!” I also love the way you say “Hello handsome daddy” when we pick him up from work.

You are generous and expect others to be so. We will never eat a meal where you haven’t offered your milk or food to us. I have never finished all of my meal because you ask “Mommy, may I have a bite?” and I have no will power to say no. You make sure bear has some play food for breakfast before you sit down. You offer me “mom bear” every morning when I enter your room.

You are smart and clever. You know how to unlock the front door. You have figured out games and puzzles so much faster than I could have expected. You told me last week that “Old MacDonald is my favourite song, mommy”. You can count to 10 (let’s ignore the fact that you skip 5 and 6 regularly) and have been singing your ABCs for months and recognize letters in the world. You think all Canadian flags deserve the exclamation of “Go, Canada, go!” You can put on your bath robe and tie up the strings by “self”.

I love you, my darling. I love your soft kisses, your tight hugs, your desire to be your own person, your love of others, your concern for others, your tiny little naked butt, your long toddler summer legs, your gorgeous hair with the soft curls you inherited from my dad. I love your smile, your giggle, your silliness, your Grover voice, your one-octave-too-high singing voice.

I love you. Never stop being you, my sweet nearly two year old.

 

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Who Am I?

I’ve been wrestling consistently since I was conscious with wondering who I am. I must be a hundred different people stuck in this one very crowded body.

Today the prominent person is longing to have time and drive to learn my dusty ukelele and write music and perform in front of a crowd. She wants to release the turmoil of emotion that has accumulated this year in a creative way. She wants to be given her chance to demonstrate herself. To show everyone. She wants to sit on a stool, play her uke and sing to a crowd with passion in her voice.

The second person fighting for escape in there is an androgynous woman who hates that I chose this frilly fucking collar this morning. Why did I put this stupid shirt on? Every time I wear it I hate it. This shirt is not me. This shirt is for someone who I thought I should be.

Another regular in this emotional rom-com is someone who is rock solid and needs no one. Who wears amazing outfits and walks her dog with confidence while listening to upbeat music. She’s the coolest part of me because she actually exists a lot of the time. I fucking love when I feel like this. I am confident, happy, musical, and social.

That little girl in the corner of the room is my mild social anxiety. She tends to sit in the centre of the stage, cross-legged, watching the audience interact while remaining alone in the spot light, trying to simultaneously disappear and draw attention to herself. She doesn’t quite know what to say in a crowd of people and always second guesses what she has said, if she says anything. If she says nothing she second guesses that too. She doesn’t feel remarkable but wants to be desperately.

There’s an incredibly strong woman working out in the other corner of the room who is trying very hard to be able to do a chin up. She can fit into her skinny jeans, has no muffin top and feels strong all the time. She’s not self-conscious of her body. She’s sitting there waiting to be pushed. She wants to get off her ass. She’s waiting for the excuses to run out.

There’s an early 20s woman who shows up far less often lately who wants to go out dancing and drinking and release her tension that way. She is easily talked down. She knows full well that being drunk sucks and there’s nowhere good to go dancing anyway.

Off to the side there, do you see her? The woman with the hair down to her ass, wearing my favourite flowy skirt, smoking a joint and telling anyone who will listen that love is the only religion we need. We just need to love each other, man.

A newer, more prominent character is the business woman. She’s confident, eager to learn, and excited about what the next step is. She’s the only one who is actively working to discover who she is. She doesn’t want to be the middle aged woman in a pencil skirt and blazer. She wants to re-define what it means for millennials to be professionals. While all the other characters are constant, this one is new so she has no history. She has no baggage. She can still be anyone. She wants to be all the above people at once. She is strongest when everyone is working in unison for the same goals. I am at my best when everyone in this crazy body is in agreement about what we look like, our core values, our musical taste, our preferred company. This career seeker is slowly taking over as the band leader. All of these women in my body are almost in time with each other. We are almost making beautiful music.

Today the music is stunning, energetic, full of drive and passion. Tomorrow the music will change. The next day we may or may not be talking to each other. Poor little social anxiety may just yell at everyone else to “shut the fuck up” and we will probably stay in that night. But after we’ve all become ok with that idea, miss hippie may take over and we will all relax a little and play board games and enjoy our husband’s company.

I am a hundred different people. I am variations of my emotions. I am I.

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Stop Fucking Copying Me

If you are like me, when you sit down in your car you become a slightly different person. You follow the rules are little more carefully and get a bit upset when other people do not.

Driving a car a privilege, not a right. At least, I think so. You are operating a 4,000 lb piece of machinery that can end someone’s life if used incorrectly. I happen to operate that machine with a small child in the backseat while listening to that sweet child skip all the middle letters of her ABCs. You must operate this machine while following the rules of the road in order for all of us to drive efficiently and safely.

I could list all the ways that other driver’s bother me, but it would be simpler to just say that all other drivers bother me.

It should really come as no surprise to you that I have a teensy bit of verbal road rage. I won’t cut anyone off, or follow to closely but you better believe you are getting a tongue lashing from the personal space of my driver’s seat, regardless of whether my windows are rolled up. You may get honked at, but I tend to reserve that for people who potentially put me in danger. I’m looking at you, no-signal/no-shoulder check merger. That’s how I will let you know that you are a dummy.

I wish I could explain this to my 21 month old daughter. I wish I could tell her not to listen to me while I’m driving. The problem is that it is crazy funny to hear a sweet toddler voice say “Go, you fucking dummy!” or “Damnit” over and over again.

I will admit that I have gotten better about my language in the car but sometimes there’s just that one fucking moron who thinks he can drive like no one else is on the road. I guess I should be glad that I’m teaching my kid the importance of road rules.

Image result for toddler swearing

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My new Friends are all Parents too

How do I write about this without hurting feelings? How do I address this issue without possibly making someone feel bad? Maybe by just being honest and non judgemental?

I had a baby 16 months ago. In the last 16 months I can name less than 10 of my former friends that have expressed interest in spending time with her. I say former, because, in reality I haven’t seen most of these people in probably 20 months. Most of them have never met my kid.

Last summer I was hugely pregnant and had a baby. I couldn’t drink, couldn’t party, and, probably without surprise, most of my friends disappeared. I don’t blame them.

When I was in my early 20’s, my friends were getting married and having babies and I didn’t fit into that world. I lost contact with them because we were in totally different places. I kept up with their lives (still do) on facebook, liking their kid pictures and enjoying seeing their family’s milestones, but I didn’t reach out. I didn’t try to get to know their kids.

Now I’m the one who has the kid and I get it. We have totally different day to day lives.

I eat breakfast hoping that my daughter won’t smear her yogurt hands on my nice work pants before I get a chance to clean her up. I pack four bags every night – my purse, my lunch, her backpack, her diapers – before I go to bed. I sing the ABC’s, Ba Ba Black Sheep and Old MacDonald every single morning. My plans for the weekend include trying to find ways to tire out my kid and entertain her while also somehow finally cleaning the bathroom and doing our mountain of laundry (how do three people create so much laundry?!).

Before I had a kid I hit the snooze button more times than I’d like to admit. I ate breakfast in the car on the way to work, blaring the radio. We only had to worry about two adult lunches. My house was clean. My house was clean. My weekend plans included sleeping in, binge watching MASH on the couch after making an elaborate hangover breakfast, and figuring out what we were going to do that night.

I’d like to apologise to my early 20’s friends (I think you know who you are) and I hope you don’t hold any ill will against me. I wasn’t ready for your life steps so I stepped away. I am so sorry if that felt like betrayal. It was fear on my side, not loathing.

I’ve been feeling abandoned? disowned? self-pitying? for, well, 16 months. It’s time for me to cut that shit out. I’m a god damned adult, for fuck’s sake. And besides, my closest friends are still putting in the effort. They are skyping with my kid and sending sweet little postcards and presents and these things make me happy cry.

And what’s more? I made some new friends this year. Friends that light up when they see my kid. That reach out to see how she’s doing when she’s been sick. To see if I’ve been sleeping. How I’m doing. Am I getting enough self-care (the answer is usually ‘no’)? Am I going to come to gymnastics this Friday?

Can we set up some play dates, please? I know you guys are just as busy as I. Maybe we can tire out our kids together?

It’s time for me to stop having FOMO for my former life. I never wanted to lose any friends but I’ve had a hard time figuring out how I fit into your lives with my new funny sidekick. I’m leaving the door open for friends, old and new, to come on into our messy living room and have a drink. You are always welcome…. as long as you don’t mind my kid climbing on you and insisting you colour with us.

 

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20 Minutes in my Toddler’s Head

My imaginings of my 14 month old daughter’s thought process while at gymnastics with her dad on Sunday morning.

Ooh a ball. Ooh two balls. Who is that lady? She’s got a ball too. Ooh more balls over there. Yup. Tastes like a ball. Dad! This ball has holes in it! I’ll take this ball. Why is that boy upset? Maybe I should give his ball back. Uuuuuhm, no. I’ll keep it. What did dad say? Oh, putting them away. I’ll just throw this one in and… Oops. Dad, it went over there.

Where are we going? Oh, there’s mats stacked up over here!  I’m going to the top! Ok, one knee up. Other knee up. I made it to the top! Horray for me! Ok ok. Time to get down. Alright, turn around. One leg… Ok I can touch the mat, now the other leg. Yes! I’m down. Look, dad! A trampoline. Nevermind, I see the mats I just climbed. Gonna do those again. One leg, two legs. Ok ok. At the top. One leg down, the other leg down. Dad! A trampoline! Hahaha! Jumping! A balance beam! Dad, where are you taking me? I want the balance beam.

Who is this lady singing? Rowing boats? Ooh! More balance beams. No, not this balance beam. I’m going over to this one. No! This beam is not too tall for me. I can get my foot up heeeeeere. Up! See, dad? Ok I’m done with beams. Let’s go over here. Dad? Why are you spinning me around? Let me down, dad. What am I walking on? No, I’m done with beams. Look at the barrel that baby is drumming on. Fine, pick me up and bring me over here but I’m going back to that barrel. This beam won’t stop me! I’ll just fall into the mat with my face. That’s what faces are for. Ooh, a different beam. No, dad, I can do this one myself. Ok, I’ll let you help me. Walking up a beam, do do do do! Oh, there are kids over there…. Whoops! Why didn’t my foot land on anything? Omg, did she say choo choo? “Woo woo!” Whoops. Sorry dad, I didn’t mean to hit you in the face.