I’ve known my mom was a brilliant thing for round-about 25 1/2 years. The blogging world is quickly catching on since she began her very own blog, On [ This ] just a few months ago. It’s been a treat to get to know my mom as a writer, hear a story our family lived through her eyes. It is a shock to realize that your parents are people- real people!- with first names and eyes and ears, with memories even. In today’s Tiny Spark my mother shares a struggle my pig-tailed little self never understood. She explores the notion that knowing sometimes is just as helpful as fixing.
On [ Depression ]
I can do everything, and I do. Sew all the dresses, hang the wallpaper, miter the chair-rail, cook the excellent meals. Looking in, you see perfect. I keep all the balls in the air. They are never, ever dropped.
The first grade girl and the kindergarten boy are delivered to school, toting projects finished the night before, healthy lunches packed. Clothes ironed, they walk into the building in their spotless socks. Not only perfectly turned out, they are cherished, read to, played with, loved.
Inside the walls of my home, shining with the clean, I come with my little baby girl. I nurse her on our couch, kiss her face, hold her close, breathe her. Shutting the blinds, I let the house go dark, even in the light of day. I lie there with my sleeping baby on my chest, I sink into that dark, that silence, sleep.
I can only stay on the couch so long. I get up, pick up the children, make meals, play with them, bathe them. No one is mistreated or neglected, everything is handled. This is a functional depression.
Months pass. Everything is fine, but the color inside me is black. The texture is dull and watery. I am drowning.
Every day then and every day now, I talk to my mother by phone. She tells me then that she can hear the dark in my voice, the dead. Worried, she tells me this every day, until I stop taking her calls. She is annoying, persistent, wanting me to see a doctor, trying to help. Likely, she saves my life. My mother goes with me to that doctor. In the telling, I can barely speak words through the angst, the silent tears, the pain. And if I am being truthful, the embarrassment….that I am bad, wrong, flawed, crazy.
I get a green pill, and my outlook changes promptly. I don’t want to depend on meds, but this gives me a leg up, a chance. I see a little light, like opening the blinds a tiny bit. Off the couch, I go for walks with my baby in her stroller. I remember that I love running, I remember that life is good. I remember that besides doing all the things, I can enjoy what I’m doing, I can love it.
Many years later, I recognize when the dark sneaks in, and it still does, sometimes. But I see it. That’s the good, that I’ve lived this, I live it. I know that seeking help is fine, it’s good. There is no shame here now. The good is that I see it in myself. I can see it, sometimes, in others who are on that dark couch.
My daughter comes to my house with her infant son and I see the black behind her eyes. She has no words, only silent tears. Although she is a grown-up, I am able to be the mother that my mother was to me back then. She becomes a child again before me, she tells me “yes” and “ok”. She does what I tell her to do. I take the cranky boy from her, put her in my bed to sleep because she is so tired. I call my doctor and make her an appointment for the morning.
Today, I am not bad, wrong, flawed, or crazy. I can be brave in the telling of this story, and I tell it if I need to, unashamed. There is hope for those of us tempted to lie on that dark couch, there is help, light.
Do you hide your struggles from those around you?
Upcoming Tiny Spark:
Monday, December 17th