holy. wow.

Grab a box of tissues, click on the post title, then hold on to your seat.


If reading through message threads isn't your thing, MotherJones pulls the story together quite neatly. (Hard to believe that it's) hard to believe this kind of thing still happens. Amazing what a few concerned individuals can do when they take the initiative.

Once again I am slapped upside the head with the realization that I need to pull my head out of the "it's not my place" sand more often and get involved. Somehow, somewhere. With something. Anything.

Simply inspiring.


elaboration -or- more about something i've already talked to death

Dear Sister,

(In my blog post) I hastily tossed out words, trying to capture a snapshot of what I was feeling at that instant. I wish now that I had been more deliberate, had taken the time to elaborate more fully. That’s what I’ll try to do here. Bear with me, please. The original post is indented, my explanation of each part below.


I try to figure out when it all started. Maybe the key to the end lies in its birth. Birth. Heh.
I am often guilty of following rabbit trails: The word “start” leads me to the word “end” which makes me think of “death” which somehow leads me to the word “birth” which I associate with the birth of my son. I usually recognize that the connections I make aren’t necessarily obvious but all too often I fall into the trap of assuming that everyone else thinks the way I do and that I don’t need to explain what the fuck I’m talking about for others to get the full picture. It certainly sounds like I am blaming you for my depression. I am not.

Four and a half years later, I'm still resentful.
I am resentful that my memories don’t live up to the Madonna and Child image that I had envisioned. I wanted so much to be that “natural mother”. To be bathed in an ethereal glow with a choir of heavenly angels singing “hallelujah” as I gazed tenderly down at the babe at my breast. I am resentful that no one bothered to share with me that it just isn’t that way all the time. That I’ve had to spend so much time wondering what was wrong with me, why I was such a failure when in fact that isn’t the case. The horrible truth is this: Motherhood sucks. Literally. It sucks away at your very soul. It leaves you grasping. Gasping. It keeps you up all night and makes you want to bury your head under the pillows in the morning. No matter how detached you try to keep your own baggage, it keeps spilling all over your best intentions and all those things that your brain and heart and gut tell you not to do, you find your very innermost primal instincts urging you to do. It's not about me or my pride, you tell yourself. But it is, oh, it is. It's not deliberate, you remind yourself. But it feels so calculated, so determined.

Spoil or stunt. Hover or disengage. Coddle or break.

You bounce from one extreme to the next, hoping, praying that it all averages out to some sort of balance. You hear the voices, that nonstop chorus made up of well meaning sisterneighborfriends cutting you down, shaking your already pitifully unbalanced house of cards. Maybe she's right, you think. Or she could be right. She could be onto something , you think, but that totally negates what she saiddoesthinks. You’ll never be the best at this rate. Although, really? It's not the best that you’re even shooting for. You’d be more than happy with good enough if the line of good enough would stop drifting. Sometimes you wonder if you've ever seen it at all or if you're so far away that you've really just been chasing a shadow. Maybe you're headed in the wrong direction altogether. When do you know for sure? And when is it too late to turn around and start over? No one ever mentioned that side of it. No one ever hinted that while there are blessed moments, motherhood is too complex to be simply defined as a blessing. I'm resentful that such a big piece of the picture was glossed over so easily.

Angry. Furious.
I am angry that I was so caught up in how it was “supposed to be” that I tried to force it into something that it could never be. Ours is not the close family of sisters sharing shopping trips and cruises. Even if proximity would allow for that kind of involvement, I don’t know that we would have that kind of relationship. There are no Rockwell paintings depicting the American Dream that include a family that is really three different families bound together by common genetics. Of siblings spanning close to two decades with god only knows how many foster children thrown in to fill in the gaps.

I am angry that others encouraged my delusions of there being A Way. I am angry that I was not respected enough to be given the benefit of the doubt that I might know a little something about what was best for me. Hopes and dreams are not one-size fits all -- how short-sighted of me to think that there might be a single path to reach them. That what you/she/he wants/needs/sees would be the right fit for me and that I was somehow faulty because it wasn’t. I am angry at myself for not being a better advocate for myself.

Of all the times to choose to voice your "concerns".
In the middle of an already emotionally tense time, you said some things that were thoughtless. “Thoughtless” meaning not fully thought out. I believe you when you say that your intention was not to hurt me. I believe that your motivation was to be genuinely helpful -- to encourage me to consider things I might not have considered, to play the “what-if” game because you believe(d) that I could have a happier, fuller life if I were to make different choices. Your timing sucked.

Seven (whoops, eight) plus years we'd been married and in all that time, you never said a word. You never once acted like there was anything about him or me or the two of us together that bothered you until the three of us sat down to order Chinese the week before our son was born.
And I was naive enough to believe that just because you hadn’t said anything to my face, you didn’t have a problem with some aspect of us. Nevermind that you and I had spent countless conversations discussing the shortfalls of the relationship of others. Yet another thing I wish I could undo -- all that time wasted on putting others down to pull myself up. It’s beautifully karmic, I suppose, that it turns out that you were engaging in the same kinds of conversations about me.

I don't even remember who didn't get what. I just remember the grilling in the days following. Having to explain, to defend our relationship. Doing everything in my power to prove to you that my decision to marry him was acceptable on the eve of giving birth to his son.
Why, oh why, was your approval so important? I hate that I was so insecure in my own choices that I felt compelled to find a way to change your perspective. I guess the good that came out of it was that in the long run I rediscovered what it was about my marriage made it work so very well for us. I’ve played those conversations over and over in my head, recognizing more clearly each time what it is about Josh that first drew me to him. And? I’ve come to the conclusion that if I had it to do all over again? If something were to happen to him and me, and I were in the position of looking for someone else? I’d be looking for someone just like him. We’re not perfect, but together? We’re pretty damn good.

Those seeds of doubt that you so carefully sowed? They took root fast and quickly began to choke out every remaining blade of self-confidence. Pestilence. Soul-sucking. You were supposed to be there to support me. You cut me down at the knees and I've been questioning my every move since.
You did not cause my depression. Some toxic combination of personality, circumstances, and perspective put me where I am today. Possibly some genetic predisposition. Your poor timing simply served as the catalyst to get the ball rolling. Postpartum hormones, the exhaustion that goes hand in hand with raising a small child, a limited support network, not recognizing in time that these things were not normal and that I wasn’t, in fact, somehow broken because I couldn’t manage them all on my own -- too much everything and nothing at the same time, that’s what pushed me over the edge, headfirst into a spiral of hesitancy, guilt, and self-doubt.

You ended your phone call to me by saying that you would always be available if I needed you. But the thing is, I don’t. I don’t need you. It would be comfortable, enjoyable to have a great give-n-take kind of relationship with you. But it is not necessary. Our lives are not intertwined in such a way as to make it necessary. This is not yours to fix and you can’t help me with it. This is a journey of self. Self-discovery leading to self-assurance and, hopefully, culminating in self-reliance.

I am sorry that I angered and embarrassed you with my post. It was thoughtless, immature, and cowardly for me to call you out in a public forum without first approaching you privately. I recognize and accept that our relationship has been irrevocably changed as a result of my actions. If there is something that I can do to repair your feelings, I will do so happily and willingly. I will be more respectful of your feelings in the future, bringing any grievances to you before sharing them with others.

Because my offense to you was public, I feel that you are due a public apology. I will send this to you first, privately, then publish it to my blog. It is yours, of course, to share it as you see fit.


.

did i tell you about wednesday yet?

One of Dr. R's favorite ways to pass the time while I am snuffling incoherently on his couch is to ask me questions intended to get me to be more reflective and less reactive. At least I think that's the purpose. Maybe he's just trying to distract me so that I will STOP. WHINING. ALREADY. Last session he kept asking me "But who is nurturing you?" I rattled off the poor souls who are currently being sucked dry because they haven't yet had the sense to run away or pretend they aren't home when I call this person and that person and her and her and him and threw in her for good measure. Don't want it to seem like I'm over burdening any single person, now do I. He nodded, as he does when I've given him an answer but not quite answered the question, but didn't push it. Which was odd because he's nothing if not pushy. But we were nearing the end of our session, so maybe he just didn't want to get me started again. The tissue box was getting dangerously low. "Allergy season" and "therapy" must ring beautifully in the ears of KCWW, Inc shareholders. But I digress.

On my way home I was struck with the realization that I didn't, couldn't, count myself in that list. Blah blah blah, epiphany, blah blah, resolution, blah blah blah, squared my shoulders and decided that needed to change. If I'm going to have a chance at beating this monster, I probably better start taking better care of myself. Better sleep, better food choices, more sun and exercise, etc. And topping the list, being a little less rigid with myself. Yes, the kitchen floor probably does need to be swept daily, but it's probably not going to catch on fire if I wait until after I've had my coffee. I am not a horrible lazy slob because I choose to eat breakfast before cleaning out the litter box. That sort of thing.

I did pretty good with it through the end of the week and then through the weekend. By Monday morning I was almost reflexive as I shooed away the muttering gnat that wanted to remind me that it was 10:30 and all I'd done was put together a (rough) blog post that I didn't even take time to re-read and edit before publishing. Sloven. Shoo, shoo. Go away.

Tuesday = more of the same.

I'm pretty anal careful about the amount of screen-time that I get when Aaron is home, though, so Wednesday morning looked decidedly different. Balancing what needs to get done with what won't make me pull my hair out because he's along is sometimes tricky. But the service bell in the Jeep had been dinging for almost a week and mygod the buildup of bug-guts on the front of the poor thing! So off we went for a day of car maintenance.


It was bright and sunny, the perfect day for plunking in coins and pressure washing things off things, so our first stop was the car wash. An hour or so later and we were on our sparkling, spot-free, debugged, vacuumed, and freshly squeegeed way. Next stop? The local auto shop, aka Aaron's very most favorite place in the whole! wide! world! The guys at the shop love Aaron because he's cute and precocious and uses words like "transmission" and "axle" and "ignition" (mostly) appropriately and has told them every time we go in there that when he grows up he wants to be a m'canic because it's the coolest. He loves it there because they like to show him the POWER TOOLS! and POWER CORDS! and LIGHTS! and SWITCHES! The cars are UP IN THE AIR! There's GREASE! and DIRT! on the floor and no one is chasing around after them making them sweep up their messes and sighing big sighs because OMIGOD AARON I JUST WASHED THAT WINDOW PLEASE STOP LICKING IT.

All of that and an oil change for the low, low price of $39.99. Wednesday was shaping up to be a pretty easy-going day.

As I was paying for the babysitting oil change, one of the guys came in to the front office and asked me "Is that red Jeep yours?" Certain that he meant "shiny, pristine, what a great job you've done of maintaining it, I've never seen one in better shape" red Jeep, I replied with an enthusiastic "Sure is!" To which he responded "Yah. Well, you've got a a pretty big rats nest up under the hood. Might wanna get some rat poison. Those things like ta eat through wires", calmly shifted his toothpick to the other side of his mouth, patted Aaron on the head and headed back out into the shop.

I briefly contemplated whether or not it might be just as appropriate to light the whole fucking thing on fire and start over with something, oh, I don't know, WITHOUT A RATS NEST IN THE ENGINE? Sadly, we'd never make it home in time for lunch on foot, so I signed the receipt for services rendered and headed for home.

We parked the Jeep at the curb. A short 3-block walk away.

Nap time was spent typing in one variation of "how to get rid of rats in your engine" after another into Google. Nap time was cut short because OH MY HOLY FUCK THERE IS A RAT'S NEST UNDER THE HOOD OF MY CAR, THE VERY CAR THAT WE HAVE BEEN PARKING IN THE GARAGE THAT IS ATTACHED TO MY HOUSE BY A DOOR THAT SEEMS ALTOGETHER VERY INSUFFICIENT CONSIDERING THERE IS A RAT'S NEST UNDER THE HOOD OF MY FUCKING CAR!!! A trip to the car dealership Home Depot suddenly seemed far more pressing than encouraging the boy to have some quiet time.

We perused sprays and powders, baits and traps, and finally came home with a bottle of granules guaranteed to encourage the little critters to rebuild somewhere else. Josh disposed of the nesting material when he got home and then I burnt the gloves he used and made him bathe in bleach before letting him back in the house. We sandbagged liberally sprinkled the perimeter of the house with the granules and sprayed the engine down with gasoline and put a for sale sign on it sprinkled it as well. After a night at the curb to dissuade any little critters from returning to the garage if they insisted upon returning to their former digs, the Jeep was reinstalled on the far side of the garage, as far away from the door to the house as I can possible park it with out taking out the wall in it's rightful place beside Josh's car.

I'm totally okay with having to climb over the console to get out. Sometimes a girl has to be flexible like that.


.

For me, the hardest part of writing has always been coming up with a way to start. I generally know where I want to go -- which witty little anecdotes I'll throw in along the way to keep the journey lively and what my big close will look like. I've always been proud of my writing; invigorated by the way the words just seem to wrap themselves around each other, painting a picture. Whether or not the reader sees the same picture remains blurry and vague and somewhat inconsequential. It's been a long time since I had a paper returned to me, marked up with suggestions for improved clarity and punctuation. My (appropriate) use of punctuation is abysmal. I tend to write the way I speak and I'm never quite sure if I just said a comma or if that was just a breath so I could keep going.


I write, in general, for me.

And yet? I still struggle with where to start. Which is what I'm doing right now. Waiting for some bright epiphany to pop free from this (edited) stream of consciousness. I envy (?) admire those writers who can sit down and let their thought flow unedited from brain to keyboard. I've tried that a time or seven. Instead of lyrical, breathing rhythms, I stutter and stop. My flow is too viscous. Thick with extraneous bits and pieces that don't really belong but got stuck in the mix. Gloppy.

In one of my eleventy billion drafts I wrote:

I wish I could take you on a tour through the inner workings of my mind. I wish I could take a tour through the inner workings of my mind. I'm not really sure what exactly goes on in there, but we would all need ear protection and there would be absolutely no way anyone could board the tram without signing a waiver re: injuries due to not keeping hands and feet safely inside the tram at all times. There would also need to be something about "participating at your own risk. Management does not assume responsibility for any lingering emotional or psychological trauma blah blah blah".

I like the way that feels. I like the way it starts, hesitantly, then starts again, a fun-town train pulling into the station and heading off again, pointing out the main attractions as it chugs along. Chug-chug-chug-chug-chug. Chug-chug-chug-chug-chug. Chug-chug-chug-chug, chug-chug-chug-chug, chug-chug-chug-chug, WOOO-WOOOO. I feel strong, proud, exhilarated when I read it. I can taste the salty popcorn air. I can hear the whir of the Ferris wheel just getting ready to start up. Draped in bold, albeit, frighteningly dark colors, it comes alive to me. I created it. I just don't know what to do with it.

So it sits in my draft folder, waiting for something to come along and make it whole.

That's where I sit today. Waiting for something to come along and make me whole. Waiting for a good way to start.

I'll go back to therapy a week from Wednesday. Maybe we'll talk again about medication, though that scares the living bejeebus out of me. Too many horror stories about what can go wrong if you get hooked up with the wrong chemical combo and quite frankly, I'm not sure I have the time or energy to be patient enough to look for the right one. Then again, maybe I'm so completely average that anything will do up to and including a better multi-vitamin. Right now I'm going to grab my iPod and go for a walk. Vitamin D is good for the psyche, right? Turn the music up just loud enough that I'm forced to sing along. Wear my sunglasses so that I can pretend not to notice the sideways glances that are probably all in my head anyways.


.

I thought I had neglected this space long enough that I would be posting essentially anonymously again, so I was somewhat shocked by the handful of emails I got in response to my last post. The free version of Sitemeter that I've been running must only list certain types of visitors, keeping full disclosure for paying members. Whatever. The bottom line is that I thank each and every one of you for taking the time to reach out to me.


Amy and Lora - your (public) comments mean more to me than I can find words to express. It frightens me to think how dark and bleak this journey into motherhood and self would have been without the two of you quietly shining as beacons of support and strength through time and distance.

Those of you who emailed me privately, I'll respect your choice of keeping our conversation between us. This is not a comfortable subject. I'm only beginning to come to terms with it and I can only begin to guess at how awkward it must feel to have to brush shoulders with something so undefinable, unfixable by conventional methods.

My (current) theory is that this depression breeds and flourishes best in hidden places. In the dark it feeds on itself and grows uncontrollably. I'm going to do my best to keep pulling it out from the dark recesses where it curls itself. I understand if it makes you uncomfortable. I understand if you stop coming around here. I don't know that I would have been able to post if I had known you were still hanging around in the first place.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not afraid to talk about this and I don't need to do so in hushed whispers. I'm not looking for pats on the head or to be treated with kid gloves. Anything I write here is merely an attempt to figure it out for myself. Stay, go, ask, advise, whatever. Wrestling this leviathan has me a bit preoccupied.

Sorry. I'm putting this all badly. I don't mean to sound so dismissive. I'm just trying to get a handle on this thing that I can't quite define. Where it begins, where it ends, how many heads it has. It's like stabbing in the dark at jello -- was that resistance? Did I land a blow or glance off the edge or just miss it altogether? By the time I can wriggle around to cast a light on it, I'm not sure if I'm even looking in the right place.

I didn't know. I don't think I did, either. Depression is kinda of quiet like that. You always seem so happy. I'm not UNhappy. I'm not drowning in pools of my own tears. I don't break down and sob uncontrollably at the side of the road. I smile. I laugh. I just don't seem to be able to hang onto joy for longer than a few seconds at a time. So in control. Sticking to a schedule and DOing things is much easier than FEELing things. Lists can be made, boxes checked off and the results are tangible. Justifying time spent in my head is much harder. Why didn't you tell me? It's hard to admit to being broken. If you push the sharp edges back together really tightly, you hardly notice the cracks, anyways. I'm still not certain that I can stand up to the scrutiny of your love and concern. I there something I can do? No. Yes. I have no idea. I will try really, really hard to ask for help if/when I figure out what "help" is. Let me know if you need a break. I need a break. Can you turn off the endless loop in my head? I can take Aaron for an hour or two if you need me to. I can't decide if it's better or worse to be on my own. There's still too much to sort out for me to even know where to begin. Sometimes it's easier to just shut the door on it and focus my attention elsewhere. 4 year-old boys are awfully good at creating distractions. Don't take him for me. Take him for him. Are you going to be okay? Yes. I don't know what "okay" means right now, but I am most definitely going to be whatever it is. Someday. Soon. For longer and longer stretches at a time.

Maybe it would help to have a picture of my depression. My depression is unsure. Ambiguous, ambivalent, conjectural, dubious, erratic, fitful, hazy, hesitant, iffy, incalculable, inconstant, indeterminate, indistinct, insecure, irregular, irresolute, precarious, questionable, risky, unclear, unconfirmed, undecided, unfixed, unpredictable, unreliable, unresolved, vacillating, vague, variable, wavering. My depression is phobic. Afraid, anxious, apprehensive, discomposed, disquieted, disturbed, frightened, irrational, jittery, jumpy, nervous, neurotic, panicky, scared, shy, skittish, tense, worried. My depression is intolerant. My depression is angry. My depression is relentless. My depression is overwhelming. Looming. Bewildering. My depression is exhausting.

I am so, so, so very tired.

.

[deep breath] here goes

Um.


Hi.

Sorry, I'm kind of nervous. I'm not sure how this is supposed to go.

My name? Oh. Sorry. My name is Susan. Do I wait for you all to echo that back? [nervous laugh]

Sorry. I know, I'm not supposed to keep apologizing. Sorr... um, yeah.

Anyways. My name is Susan and I am depressed.

It's been just a little over 72 hours since the good doctor actually said the "d" word. I don't know exactly how long which is a little odd for me since I'm usually so quick to start up a chart or plan or list to deal with "new". Collect data, analyze, fix. Nice, neat, tidy, and ever so efficient.

"Functionally depressed." I don't even know if that's a thing, but there it is. Does that mean I'm functioning okay, then? I'm up in the mornings, dressed, the boy gets 3 squares + 2 and plenty of face time. He giggles and plays and explores and pushes the boundaries. The laundry is done; there are no science projects growing in the back of the fridge. The bottles of wine we moved from PA are still collecting dust, minus the 2 we shared when the playdate crew came over. The bills are paid. I'm carefully online for no more than 2 hours each day.

It kinda threw me when he started talking about actual medication by name. Lexapro, I think. I wasn't really listening. Something about minimal side effects and talk it over with your PCP, whatever that is. I meant to look it up when I got home but I guess I got distracted.

That happens a lot, lately. The simplest of tasks loom over my mornings afternoons days because I simply can't remember if I ever started them and, if so, what part did I already do? Should I just start over? Focus, Susan, focus! How many dirty dishes do you have to pull out of the dishwater before you figure out that you forgot to run it last night? Run it again already.

It's the voices, I think. All those angry, disappointed voices. It's hard to stay focused in the face of all that annoyance. They're right, you know. I have nothing to not smile about. My life? As good as it gets. It's wasteful, this aching sadness, this longing, this utter lack of fulfillment. Greedy, greedy makes hungry puppy, they chide. Chin up! Tsk, tsk, tsk. What more could you possibly want?

I have no answer. It's not more that I want. It's not less, either. It's not that or those or red or shiny or or or. I can't define it. And since I can't define it, I do my best to square my shoulders, dust off the grimness of yesterday and face the new day head on. But it burbles up, this malaise, rising unbidden as I stare, unseeing at the contents of the refrigerator. Now what was it we were going to have for lunch? It's a relief, really, those days when I remember that he's at school and I only have to fend for myself. Bowl of something leftover, nuke it for 1 minute 45, grab a fork and down it goes. It all tastes the same, anyways.

I try to figure out when it all started. Maybe the key to the end lies in its birth. Birth. Heh. Four and a half years later, I'm still resentful. Angry. Furious. Of all the times to choose to voice your "concerns". Seven plus years we'd been married and in all that time, you never said a word. You never once acted like there was anything about him or me or the two of us together that bothered you until the three of us sat down to order Chinese the week before our son was born. I don't even remember who didn't get what. I just remember the grilling in the days following. Having to explain, to defend our relationship. Doing everything in my power to prove to you that my decision to marry him was acceptable on the eve of giving birth to his son. Those seeds of doubt that you so carefully sowed? They took root fast and quickly began to choke out every remaining blade of self-confidence. Pestilence. Soul-sucking. You were supposed to be there to support me. You cut me down at the knees and I've been questioning my every move since.

Sorry. I got a little wrapped up in that. I know I'm not supposed to blame. That's a long ways from acceptance, isn't it? Looking to put someone else in the hot-seat to take the focus off me? An old habit. Always wanting to be recognized, but terrified of being noticed. This is mine. My disease. Wherever it started, it's mine now. Mine to come to terms with. Mine to understand and define. Mine to work through. That's healthy, right? Own it before it can own me. If I'm not already too late.

What's that? My time is up? Oh. Okay. Thank you. Thank you all for listening. Thank you for not asking me how I'm feeling.

Numb, if you must know.


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