Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Depression Is a Liar

After my mom died, a sneaky little depression crept up on me and probably not so subtly turned me into someone I'm not. Because I had a newborn baby, it wasn't easy for some "typical" symptoms to play out---I simply couldn't lay in bed all day, as much as I wanted to. (I came as close to as I could though, some days!)
Two of the main symptoms I suffered from were impatience with my children (and probably J, but this is about the children!) and withdrawal from pretty much everyone and everything. I didn't enjoy social interactions---which pretty much can sum up who I am, otherwise. Conversation was laborious and many invitations went by the wayside because it just felt like too much. I was acutely aware of the impatience with my kids, I have always truly delighted in them. I wasn't enjoying them at all. This broke my heart.

The thing about depression is, it didn't knock on my door and announce its arrival. It sneaked in and infiltrated my thoughts and activities and desires and general way of being. It told me a slow poke kid who has been a slow poke for 9 years, needed to be yelled at because that would solve the problem. It didn't bother telling me that yelling at a 9 year old for not tying his shoes fast enough never feels good, it just kept encouraging me to do so. It told me that reading to my five year old would be painful and suck the life out of me. It didn't tell me that despite his sad eyes and reluctant willingness to let it go, I would still see his sorrow and the rejection; and that it would hurt my heart, but convinced me to stick to my guns on being uninvolved.

It told me my kids were loud, annoying, persistently wanting attention, spoiled, obnoxious, naughty and not worth my efforts. It told me to just "show up" but not do anything more---they wouldn't care or notice. Depression is a liar, and I even kind of knew it. But the magical blanket it throws over you, keeps you from reacting and ignoring the lies it tells.

Then a friend intervened. She took a risk. I could have told her to go suck eggs, and that was a valid fear she had, since she'd seen me in action for several months. But I didn't. I felt like someone had handed me a map in a maze I was trying to navigate, without knowing I was in a maze. "Hey, maybe you are in over your head and need some help, that's what it looks like from here." It was followed by love and encouragement from J and validated by a professor who had seen the decline between one class last year and another class this summer.  Meeting with my doctor was mildly terrifying.  This is the field I am going to be working in, I will probably have to encourage a lot of people to take this step, so it's good for me to experience this.  I was surprised by my fear.  My OB is a darling teency little midwife--she delivered AJ.  Anyone who can survive the hyperventilating drama queen I was during delivery, has my respect. :)  She was kind and gentle and reassuring.  I felt stupid for about 3 seconds and it swept away when she met my tears with quiet support and compassion.

I'm better. I'm myself again. The thing I missed the most, was enjoying my children. I missed being made to giggle throughout the day. I missed enjoying their perspective on things. I missed loving their need for me.

I actually sat down to write about how Avee made me laugh 3 times in the span of about 10 minutes and that I love how effortlessly she can make me laugh. There is no task, no obstacle, no challenge, that girl is presented with where she thinks for a second, "I can't do that." It simply doesn't enter her head.

Our Tuesday mornings are dreaded. Both J and I have to be somewhere at 8 am. The kids don't have to be at school until 8:30, so that cuts about 45 minutes out of our usual routine, combined with getting ourselves up and out the door and the two younger kids to a babysitter. We've only done it once so far and I hate it. Yesterday I told Avee what the hot lunch was (knowing she didn't prefer it) and said, "I'm sorry, we just don't have time to make a lunch, do your best eating the hot lunch."

I left the kitchen and when I came back two minutes later she had emptied yesterday's lunch, was cleaning out the lunchbox in the sink, and had applesauce out of the fridge ready to fill a tupperware with it. She was not taking no as an answer. She wasn't whining and complaining in an effort to take no as an answer, she simply was fixing the problem herself. She even managed to get J to help her and make her sandwich while she did the rest.

But today, today she was cracking me up. I was doing her hair and heard Bo sing a phrase from the Four Non Blondes song "What's Up". So, I started belting out the rest..."and I step outside and I take deep breath and.... I scream from the top of my lungs, What's goin' on? And I say hey, hey, hey, WHAT'S GOIN' ON!?!?!"  I take the "scream from the top of my lungs" part pretty literally. Bo was sort of frozen in place, wondering why I knew some He-Man song and I said, "I used to LOVE that song!" Avee, standing below me, holding her head perfectly still says, "Apparently you still do." She isn't really ever trying to be funny when she says stuff like that, but it always makes us laugh. 

Then on the way to school, five minutes later I said, "I put your glasses in your backpack, be sure to wear them." To which she responded, "Mom, I thought we talked about this and I thought you understood!" I laughed at her scolding words. Her glasses are for reading and computer, close-up work. She was wearing them all the time and it wasn't working for her. When I asked the eye doctor why, she explained that they are just for close up work. I apparently forgot to explain that to Avee. 

As I dropped them off I happen to glance over as Avee's walking away and see she's wearing her arm brace from when she broke her wrist last Spring and couldn't get it casted right away. I laughed out loud. The little malingerer...I called her back. She turned around inquisitively when I called her name. I held up my wrist and tapped it with my other hand. Her little impish grin flashed across her face and she dramatically slunk down in a defeated pose. She pulled it off as she ran back to the car and as she flung it through the window she said, "It was wohth a twy!" Yeah, depression took that joy from me---but with the help of modern medicine and an amazing counselor, mama done got it back!