I'm not a big fan of the whole "New Year's Resolution" idea. I usually skip them--I mean, what's the point in proclaiming something that is only going to result in a guilt-induced overindulgence of that something when you mess up and do (or don't do) that thing you swore you would (or wouldn't) do this year? Yeah, so I skip the guilt and just don't even resolve to do anything new or different or better in the new year.
But this year, I felt compelled to make a "resolution," if you will. Not out loud, mind you. Just in my head. Well, and to my husband, who looked at me a little funny and reminded me that I don't do resolutions. But I made one:
This is the year I place my own needs at least as high
on the triage charts as the needs of the rest of my family.
What does this mean, you ask? Well, obviously, I want to eat better and get more sleep and try to exercise. I want to get haircuts when I need them, and buy new makeup and clothes that are actually stylish and fit me right. I want to replace my threadbare undergarments, because we all know that moms stop buying themselves underwear when they start buying it for their kids.
But I took the biggest and most important step towards the higher-valued me today. I went to my doctor. I told her in stumbling, shaky words how everything just feels so big and stressful and out of control right now. How this veil has been pulled over my days, making everything seem just a little blurry and out of focus, tripping me up as I stumble through the days and nights of autism, anxiety, unemployment, multiple jobs, health concerns, education concerns, IEPs, diets, seizures, and ADHD. How I am annoyed and angry more often than I am sad, but when the sadness hits, I just want to give in to it and allow myself a total breakdown. Which makes me more angry. How I am taking it out on my kids--how I can't stay calm when Munchkin relies on my calmness to keep him from flying off the handle. How I can't keep Squirrel organized because my own thoughts are a jumbled mess. How I can't muster the energy to play with them or draw with them or listen to them talk, and how they know I'm not really all there even when I try. How my husband doesn't know what to say or do, but knows enough to support me when I say I think I'm depressed again. How I can't fall asleep at night, and when I finally do, I can't stay asleep. And how I'm SO TIRED during the day. How I'm not eating much, and what I do eat is not healthy. How I don't want to leave the house, but the thought of just staying here all day surrounded by this cloud of heaviness makes me even more anxious. How I think I'm just really stressed, but it's about to cross the line into a serious depression, and I think I need to go back on antidepressants before we get all the way across that line.
I poured all this out, then I took a deep breath and looked up at her hopefully. And after asking some questions and clarifying a few things, she agreed that I have more than the average amount of "stuff" on my plate and I am certainly a little depressed and a carrying way too much stress. So I left there with a prescription and a referral to a counselor to talk about how to deal with this stress, since none of it will go away anytime soon.
And tonight I feel a little bit hopeful. And grateful to all those honest moms and dads out there who are willing to share their stories and expose themselves to help another. Who aren't afraid to say when they need help, whether it comes in someone to talk to, or a little blue pill, or any other form. Thank you for being brave enough to write what you're experiencing, and for pushing me to realize where I'm headed before it gets too bad.
If you've never dealt with depression, you can't understand the way it grabs your mind and takes over. It taints the way you experience things, the way you understand things, the way you feel things. At first, it tells you that you're strong enough to deal with anything, that you don't need any help, that you can pull yourself up if you just try harder. And all the while, it's slowly pulling you into its gravitational field. And at the center of that field is a big black hole that will destroy you.
I've dealt with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. This isn't new to me, but sometimes I try to be too independent. Depression is too strong a beast to be fought alone. You'll get caught in its gravitational pull and start spiraling towards the center of the black hole. Do you know what happens to stars in outer space when they get too close to a black hole? They explode. They go out in a glorious display of color and light, but then they cease to exist. I've been really close to that black hole before. Close enough to think about hurting myself, hurting my children. Close enough to break down sobbing on the side of the interstate, afraid of the demons in my head telling me how much easier it would be if I just made it all stop. Because that's what Depression does--at first it tells you that you're fine, but after awhile it changes its tune, and starts to tell you how hopeless and futile life is. Those were some really dark days, when I was staring right into the vortex of that black hole, waiting for it to suck me in and make me explode. I never, ever want to go back there. I want to grab all the help I can get until that veil covering my life right now starts to lift and I can cope with all the things life has handed me again.
And if you feel any of these things, please talk to someone. Your doctor's a good person to start with. Depression takes many forms. For some people, it's crying jags and melancholy that won't lift. For me, it's anger and annoyance with every little thing, interspersed with an utter indifference to life. It's body aches and headaches (I actually wondered if I was fighting a flu bug for a few days!) It's insomnia and fatigue. And don't be ashamed because you aren't actually Supermomma. No one else is either. We deal with a lot just trying to balance spouses and children, doctors and therapists, schools and daycares, concerns for this day and for the ones to come. Even the super mommas need someone to keep them from spinning out of control sometimes!