For the first time in a very long time, I feel like writing again.
I sweep the floor quickly, picking up the wood chips that are a big part of floor sweeping this time of year. Then I put soup together in the crock pot for supper tonight. The day is clear and very cold. The wood fire feels wonderful.
2018 has been a hard, hard year. It started off in the early months with a strange, unexplainable emotional breakdown for me, followed by a scary mental illness diagnosis that left us reeling in its aftermath.
Then the darkness came.
All I wanted to do was lie in my bed. Curled in a ball or sprawled out, sometimes feeling a deep chasm of nothingness, sometimes feeling debilitating anxiety. Spring came and I still didn’t want to leave my bed.
We somehow survived. I’d drag myself out of bed to make food for my family and do the laundry. I’d make myself go to town and church because I knew that if I gave up on that, I would only sink lower.
Then came summer and I felt safe enough to post on Facebook that I had hope again after weeks of depression. The good months gave me joy. We went traveling. I posted on my blog. People said that I was quieter than usual. It’s probably the mood stabilizing drug I take. (I hate these drugs but I can’t do without them right now.)
When fall came the darkness returned. It wasn’t just the shortening days. It was deeper and darker than anything I’d experienced. Depression feels so selfish and narcissistic. What do I say when people ask”How are you?” Do they want to know that I’m struggling again? Even writing this feels so self-centered.
My favorite things hold no meaning. I can hardly stand to read Facebook and Instagram, where whole, healthy people’s lives stand in stark contrast to mine. I have no interest in books and blogs and having company, all the things that usually rejuvenate my extrovert personality. My house feels dirty and cluttered, even though I try hard to keep up with the basics of housekeeping.
I worry incessantly about my family. How will they come through this? I’m not disciplining and organizing like I should. They fight. They spend too much time on screens. I feel helpless about being a mom. How are you doing today, Mom? asks Alec. Are you depressed today, Mom? asks Andre.
I lie in my bed to escape, but the anxiety follows me there. My brain feels like I imagine hell to feel, on fire with hopelessness, anxiety, despair.
Sometimes I wish it was stage 4 cancer or something. At least then I could go home to Jesus soon and be at rest.
This time around I don’t talk about it as much. Why burden others with something they can’t do anything about?
I read comments like this on Facebook and know again why I don’t talk about this to very many people. Someone writes: There is an epidemic in this country and it’s “anxiety and depression.” Nearly everyone has it and it’s because they have no solid foundation in Jesus.
I’m sure the writer meant well.
Dan holds me. He offers understanding. The children try their best, but they’re just as tired of my long face as I am of my entire self. I feel like a shell of who I once was.
I pray. I do an online brain detox, exercises that isolate toxic thoughts and bring them into the captivity of Christ by replacing them with promises from God. I walk with my sister in -20 weather. I start taking large doses of vitamin D. I take what the psychiatrist prescribes. Sometimes after a morning of sleeping way too late and waking up with what a hangover must feel like, I run around the house barefoot in the snow to try to arrest the depressed feelings. I try to make gratitude lists and lists of beautiful things, but on the worst days I can’t seem to do even that. Again I feel so very selfish. I have everything I need and more. Why the darkness? Kind friends ask how I’m doing and sometimes I kind of lie and say I’m pretty good, while other times I tell the truth.
And that, friends, is where I am. Right now I am on day four of feeling like a human again. I’m tired of hiding away, pretending. But it’s also scary to put the truth out there.
I started recently on some natural supplements that use the gut/brain theory and are specifically designed for people with mood disorders. My cousin who has suffered from depression for six years feels like they have really helped her. But they’re very expensive and she says it took her six months on them to see real change. Can I last that long? I’m such a skeptic.
Each good day is like a beautiful gift, wrapped exquisitely in shiny paper. Music and laughter take on new meaning. When all is darkness, there is still grace. The Christmas lights twinkle on a dark night. The fire glows. I make myself get out and skate with the kids and for awhile I forget. Christmas pictures and letters come in the mail and I savour them. My sister sits with me and I feel like Jesus cares because He gave me her.
It all feels so focused on self when I write this. I will end the monologue with some pictures from our Christmas, which was so nice despite my moods. I should edit them to give them better lighting, but I don’t really know how, so here they are:
Here is a picture of Victoria and her young man from Mexico. They met at SMBI last spring and have been writing to each other for the last seven months. He was such a sport about the cold and tried skiing and skating and was way too good at both for a beginner. We all enjoyed his visit.
Victoria and Leonardo do the dishes.
We sang with family on Christmas day at my brother David’s house.
Two brains play chess.
Three cousins very close in age: Veronica, Annie, and Victoria.
And a screen shot of this sweet picture from Facebook memories the other day. These fat cheeked babies are growing up so much.
It was so therapeutic to write this. I don’t do well with keeping secrets.
I pray grace for each of you in the New Year. Today it feels like 2019 will be a year of many good things.