The morning after accompanying Caroline to her sleep study, on a day when our only vehicle is in the shop, and when my to-do list is a mile long is the best day for “it” to happen. “It” made me realize that the hustle of bustle of simply trying to keep up with my life often causes me not to stop and celebrate the truly wonderful moments in my life. I get caught in the minutia of the mundane, find myself focusing on what I believe has to get done (the SSI application, the medical history form for this appointment or that, applying for this grant, cleaning my bathroom so it doesn’t get condemned by the health department) rather than getting done what I can and taking time to enjoy the splendor that surrounds me.
Flashback, at this time last week I was writing a blog about a bout with depression that has been particularly challenging. I wanted to sit on the post of a while before sharing; sometimes I wonder if I share too much of myself online, the answer is, yes I do. But I hope that other people benefit for my experiences and my honesty and at the end of the day if someone thinks less of me for sharing a real part of me, I guess that is more telling of them than me. So here is the post I started writing last week…
There are days that I would rather not engage with the physical world but rather just watch the digital world float past me. On these days, I am most comfortable nestled in my bed, alone, behind a closed door. I don’t mind the sounds of my family enjoying life, they are somewhat comforting-but I have no desire to join in their fun. Despite the guilt, I cannot force myself to clean the house, fill out the mountain of paperwork, or do any of the other million things that are on my list. During the week, I drag myself down to my office log on to my computer and force myself to respond to emails, write documents, and continue to stumble through my professional day.
I felt the perfect storm brewing so I went to my doctor and began anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications at the beginning of the summer. I started the meds just in time, my mood and energy level plummeted just as my stress level soared. Perhaps the chemical imbalance is responsible for some level of clairvoyance.
I have an established history with depression and anxiety. At times, when I don’t have the energy to move, I wonder if the depression is caused by the many challenges in my life or if the challenges in my life seem greater because of the depression. When the depression sets in, despite my best efforts, the only thing I can see is the injustice that surrounds me.
I laugh at my life whenever possible, I try to embrace the joy and wonder that surrounds me. But there are days, days like today, when I can no longer muster the strength to try and convince myself that I am just tired or that I will get a break soon. I am physically and emotionally exhausted. Many activities I used to find enjoyable are now a chore.Fast Forward. I told John how I was feeling and as always he rose to the occasion. On Saturday, he suggested that I take the ladies on an adventure and that he would stay home and clean. And then on Saturday night, he told me to go see a movie by myself. He allowed me enough space to wallow and escape while creating an opportunity to enjoy the wonderful things in my life.
On Sunday night, I was really tired. But Saturday was a good day and I decided that I was going “to fake it until I make it.” So I mustered the energy to take Caroline to her sleep study. It was an experience…Caroline was all over the place, kicking her legs like a mad woman (in her sleep) and took up most of the bed. But she woke up so happy, so very happy. I hardly realized how little sleep I got because her joy was energizing.
When we got home, I put Caroline in her room to “rest” for awhile…it was only 7 am. I crawled into my bed planning to sleep for about three hours or so. When I woke up, I went out to the loft. Kristen was carrying Caroline to her room…so Caroline’s back was to me. I snuck up on her…and tapped her back. Caroline looked directly at me and said “Momma.” I looked at Kristen–I was so overwhelmed….I loudly told Caroline how happy she made me…Apparently I was too loud because Caroline ran away from me. But Caroline said “Momma.”
The joy that comes with her sweet voice uttering “Momma” with perfect clarity is like no joy I have ever felt. And perhaps the joy is amplified because it came just as I was emerging from a dark patch. I write to remind myself how far we have come….this is not just Caroline’s journey…it is our family’s journey, we share her challenges and her accomplishments. And despite how much I try to remind myself how much I have grown as a parent, spouse, professional and a person since welcoming Caroline in this world there are still tough days–tough days made harder by depression. But today, I celebrate Caroline’s new word, “Momma” and I thank Caroline for giving me the last push I needed to step out of the darkness and back into my life.