I battle clinical depression.
Up until a few years ago, only my closest friends and family knew that about me. I wasn’t ashamed of my battle. I just wanted to keep that private.
I can’t explain the ‘why’ of depression. Looking at my life, I don’t have any outward reason to be depressed. I have three wonderful sons, each of whom I am immensely proud. I live in a beautiful part of the world and can claim thirty acres of it as mine. I work from home, doing what I’m passionate about. I still have my parents. For all outward appearances, my life is pretty damn good.
And I am not refuting that.
But there are aspects of my inner life that no one else is privy to. I endured an unhappy marriage for twenty years. The unhealthy relationship took a toll on my health, both physical and mental. It ate away at my self-confidence and worth. It destroyed any trust or love I felt. I was left lonely, resentful, and very near suicide. I had stopped taking care of myself and had given up all hope. No, that’s not a cliché. My life had become a hateful, dangerous, and miserable existence.
I hated the way I felt. The way I looked. The way I had become a shadow of the person I once was. I wanted to be a better mom than what I had become. I simply wanted to invest in a life in which I could be happy.
I had stopped sharing my dreams and my fears, because those were used against me on more than occasion. I had stopped talking about anything private, because my private thoughts and moments were shared without my permission and used as fodder for gossip. I pulled into myself a little further each day until everything I had and was turned into a hard, tight ball inside my chest.
I started seeing a therapist, who helped me define the type of relationship I was trapped in. He helped me vocalize my feelings and my despair. He gave me tools to help me drag myself out of the depths of darkness. Slowly. Painfully. I started to see a different path for myself.
I will always fight this affliction. It’s something that is simply part of my makeup now. But I recognize the signs that my depression is grabbing hold of my life. And I have ways to combat those symptoms to make the blue days a little brighter.
Some people will never fully understand. Unless a person has slogged through the darkness, they can’t. During one of my worst episodes, my ex told me I needed to ‘get over it’ and ‘make myself happy.’ If only it were that simple. Believe me, no one WANTS to be depressed. No one WANTS to feel so worthless that they think the world would be a better place without them. No one WANTS to stay in bed for twenty straight hours because they simply cannot swing their legs out of bed.
I have a good support system now: my parents, my kids, and a few friends who are closer to me than sisters. These are the people I can vent to. I can cry with. These are the people who know I would do almost anything to avoid the dark days. But they also know I can’t help it when I fall into the dark. I just need a safe place to land and heal.
My dark moments don’t last as long now. They are part of my life, but they don’t define it. I’m a healthier and happier person than I was five years ago, and I never want to return to the ugliness ever again. Mamas may get the blues, but this mama is looking for brighter colors as I rebuild my life.