Depression: As spoken at Kortright Presbyterian Church on November 1, 2007 November 1, 2007Posted by dreamom in Faith, family, Happiness, Life, Parenting.
I woke up this morning convinced that today was going to be different. Different from what? My house would be tidy, meals on time (and healthy), kids happy (and quiet), husband happy, and able to get in a full days work and some work done on his Masters tonight. I know, I know. It sounds like the rantings of any mother of young kids. What is different about it when these thoughts are in my head?
At first I have this burst of energy. Yes. This WILL be the day when the pieces fall together where they belong. Then I have the sensation of my thoughts, energy, and body coming to a halt, as though the cement around me has begun to harden. How? How am I going to do this? First I have to get out of bed. What then? I am trying to figure out the order. The baby needs feeding, lunches need making, kids need dressing. I need to get dressed… The list is mounting. I have completely lost sight of the beginning and the end… Deep breath. Start where I am.
I pick up the baby, and I start heading downstairs. As I approach the top of the stairs I stop dead in my tracks. A cold chill echoes down my spine as I have a mental picture of falling down the stairs with the baby in my arms. I can see my body landing on his, and I can’t do it. I rush back to the bedroom, and put the baby on the bed. I feel panicked now. I keep touching the baby, and myself, trying to make sure that it didn’t really happen. My husband comes in the room from his shower, and I say “Bring Jordan downstairs for me.” as I slip out the room, and down the stairs before he can say no.
For the rest of the morning I am ‘off’. I am still trying to shake the feeling of having accidentally hurt one of my children – Instead of planning breakfast and lunches I am now trying to figure out how to avoid having to physically carry any of my kids up or down the stairs. If it has been a hectic (or noisy) morning I don’t want to be trapped in the house all day with the kids, so I try and plan a day out of the house. My husband gets downstairs and is frustrated that I have left everything for him to do. I don’t feel sorry. I feel hurt, and angry. I am trying to protect OUR children. Why doesn’t he see that?
The end result is the same. My husband is late for work because he is picking up the slack. Many times my son is late for school (I shutter to think what his teacher thinks of me as a parent). Many times I end up shopping to fill the hours till my husband is home – impulsively spending money we don’t really have. I am just trying anything to sooth the fear, anxiety, and mounting sense of failure. By the time I get Kyle home from school I am exhausted. He wants to play. It’s too loud. I can’t stand the way I feel. I have to close out everything. I call my husband. “Just please come home!” I plead. “I can’t do this!” I am crying now. He makes plans to come home as soon as possible.
By the time he gets here things are sometimes calmer. I have the TV on for the kids, and I am sitting at the table with my head down. Despondent. I immediately run up the stairs calling “Could you bring the baby up to me?”
My husband makes supper. Brings it to me, and puts the kids in bed. Then he works away at cleaning the disaster in the kitchen, and living room. The rooms I was trapped in all day if I was home. Everyday he saves me. I really don’t think he knows how much.
Not every day is this bad, but not every day is this good. Everyday is filled with fear, hopelessness, anger, disappointment, powerlessness, disgust. Everyday I have to fight to keep these feelings at bay. Everyday one of them seems to over-power me. Everyday I have to convince myself that in hoping for better for me and my family, that I am not being unreasonable. I have to convince myself that these feelings are not rooted in any truth about my failures as a person or mother, but rather have a life of their own. I have to convince myself that I am not lying to myself, and hoping for something I don’t deserve. I run out of hope that it will ever change.
This time I am coping with Post-partum depression, but I have experienced depression in different ways, at different times since I was quite young.
These days I feel like I am squandering the gifts that God gave me. Instead of thanking Him for my husband and kids, I find myself asking why He burdened them with me. When my husband looks at me lovingly I see pity. When my son complains that he wants me I search, but can’t find the energy to give him. He wants to be held, and I can’t bear the thought of being touched. Sometimes when I go through the motions I find myself resenting having to do it. When my daughter cries for her dad I know that she wants him because she knows that I am incompetent. She knows that I can’t help her. I can’t leave my infant son. I can’t let myself start. I need to not fail him. I have failed the others, but not him. I HAVE to be there when he needs me. There are people who say things like “He will be fine, Mom. Go.” I CAN’T! He is my lifeline. He keeps me going. For the time being it is easy to please him, and I need that.
In my prayers I beg God for mercy, for healing, for insurmountable amounts of grace. I curse Him for blessing me with a family I can’t enjoy. I pray for their emotional health. No matter how much grace and mercy and forgiveness that I know God has given me – it is never enough.
One of the things that hurts me the most through my journey with depression – is that although I have the disease – my whole family pays the price. My husband misses work – gives up his school work, and other social opportunities to be there to help out. My children miss out on having a mother who is able to give them what they need emotionally. Even my parents and siblings have to pitch in to help pick up the slack. My slack. I take medication. I get counseling. I try to get outside help. At the end of the day I still wasn’t able to do it. I failed again. I failed my husband, kids, myself. I failed God.
When the depression lifts it is not like I wake up and it is over. I just look around me and realize that it has been gone for a while. I always fear the day it will be back. One thing I can count on is that it will come back. When I gave birth to Jordan I found myself waiting for it. Hoping I was wrong – disappointed that I was right.
I feel guilty planning things like more children, or a move that are likely to bring it on. Even when I am not experiencing it I feel trapped by the threat of it.
I don’t know the answer. I wish I did. It would change my life, and the lives of my family. I often question the old adage that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. A lot of days I feel like He already has.
Everyday there is a constant battle in my mind. There is the part that knows how wretched I am. It knows that I am a failure, and useless. It knows that I have no worth. It knows that everything I touch will be ruined. Then there is the part that knows that I am a child of God. That I was created in His image. That he loves me, in whatever state I am in. That when I weep, He weeps. That He has only the best planned for me. I know that because He says so in the Bible. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 35-39). That is my only measure of Truth. Without that I would be completely lost – not knowing what is true. The good I think I must have in me, or the bad that I believe to my core is accurate? I am incredibly grateful for God’s gift of the Bible. Without it I would not have any compass to follow through this darkness that I have found myself lost in. The weird thing is that even though there is no question about the validity of the Bible for me – I still feel like a fraud claiming the Truths within it for myself.
Regardless of how I feel, I know that I need to continue to place my trust and hope in God, and his word. I don’t know why, but this is the life that God has for me. I need to force myself to trust God’s promises. I try to accept any of the help that he sends my way. Sometimes receiving help strengthens the messages of self doubt – after all everyone else does it without this much help… I work very hard to ignore and overcome that mentality. The cycle has to stop somewhere, and I need the help. Finally I know that if anyone can take my illness and turn it into a positive, and a blessing – it is God and only God.