Depression. My comfy old companion. Like a rainy, grey-painted world outside my window every day when I wake up. A big blanket I keep wrapped around my shoulders much of the time. Have I thought about ridding myself of this blanket? Well, sure. But the thought makes me uncomfortable because I’m so used to having my companion… who even am I without depression?
I’ve tried a couple medications that didn’t work. My friends say you have to be persistent and keep at it till you find the right fit. But I guess I’m not a persistent person. I hated going to the doctor a couple years ago. He studied me looking my most depressed because that’s how I become when I have to talk about being depressed.
Him: “When did you start experiencing depression?”
Me: “Oh, 20 years ago…”
Him: *Judgy slow blink*
Honestly, when we first shutdown because of COVID-19, I was kind of excited. Excited isn’t the word I want to choose because it doesn’t cover the range of feelings I was having. I was very concerned about what would happen in the world and the safety of everyone. But what I mean to say is, it felt freeing to be stuck at home. That makes more sense, right?
The expectations placed on mothers are tiring, couple that with mental health issues and the weight becomes too heavy altogether. As such, part of me thought no one could have expectations of me if I don’t leave the walls of my home. I can spend time with my kids who are my very favorite, most uplifting people. I thought: “We’ll draw together. I’ll write. I’ll bake. We’ll go on hikes and walks. I’m so ready for this.”
And it did happen, these things happened. What else happened was us missing some of our other favorites though, of course. Virtual learning was not a success. Our kids started suffering each for their own specific reason. Our eldest needed the consistency, the middle needed socialization, the youngest needed her speech therapy. I needed to ship my kids off to school to get my work done and watch The Price is Right during my chosen break time with no interruption. I didn’t see friends anymore. I woke up every day thinking, “let’s get this over with.” All I wanted during the summer was to go to the swimming pool. The expectations were taken away, but also so much of my life was taken away.
I watched my kids grow anxious and moody. My favorite people were now distressed, and I didn’t have a tear to shed. I had come to a brand new stage of depression. I was no longer attached to my depression, I was so depressed that I didn’t care I was depressed. It felt like nothing. This was a foreign, survival mode type of melancholy. One foot in front of the other, every day. Bootstraps always clenched in my fists.
We sit here today with the anxiety of the unknown. What happens next? We know our holidays are going to be so different from how they’ve ever looked before. There could be another stay-at-home order. Believe me, I want the safest measures to roll out. I want to be a hermit until something is figured out or it just goes away from quarantining effectively. But what do we DO for our mental health in the duration?
Although I still have not tried medication again, I want to say that I believe in it and advocate for it. I started talk therapy, and got my kids in tele-talk therapy as well. Honestly, we probably need to start couples therapy, too. I lie in bed with my daughter at night and do guided meditation with the gthx app to ease her (and my) anxiety. I find time to have solo dates with the kids so they still feel special, even if we can’t do some of the things we love. We got Just Dance for the Xbox to have fun together while getting our endorphins up. We make fires in our pit out back and roast marshmallows. And yes, there’s a lot of cooking and eating.
I sit with the uncomfortable. I cry when black people lose their lives at the hands of those who swore to protect it. I yell when our government lets us down. I watch the heartbreak of this year and refuse to stick my head in the sand. It’s awful; it’s sad; it’s… depressing. And I’ll always be me (as far as I know), and it’s never going to be easy.
We’re getting through it aren’t we? Imperfectly and slow moving but we are getting through. So all I can say from this melancholy shell is – I know. I know you’re going through it, too. And I don’t have a solution. This hurts whether we’re in survival mode or not. It hurts whether you’re typically happy or not. For me, what helps is noticing the small things now that bring peace, I’m more sensory than before.
Everyone was asleep, it was past midnight after all. I walked down my empty, dark street with the whole world retired for the night. It was unseasonably warm but the winds were stirring like wild bringing a cold front. The leaves had mostly fallen from the trees and as I stood in the middle of the street, they swirled around me and I felt magic. I’m not always happy, but at least I haven’t vanished.
I will continue to embrace life, I embrace the days I wake up and wish I didn’t have to do any of it. I embrace my childrens’ smiles, my partner’s touch, my sadness, my joy. It’s all mine, the merriest of blues.