Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression

Does the world really need one more post about depression? I thought not, I thought I should just hide my little light under a bushel because that's easier and I usually try to stay focused on the positive. But maybe everyone's story matters, and maybe we should all keep sharing them until people stop dying from this disease. That's why I'm sharing; I really don't want pity or compliments or any of that. 

When I had Clark, the depression and anxiety hit immediately. Fortunately it went away fairly quickly too, but I was still worried about feeling that way again the next time I had a baby. I was so relieved to feel totally ok after I had the twins. I had escaped it this time! 
In reality, it just trickled in slowly--maybe that made it even worse because I wasn't as aware of what was happening. 

I won't even try to describe the overall feeling because now it's all a blur and I'm sure by now everyone knows the symptoms: hopeless, weepy, angry, etc. But the problem with depression is that it gives you this warped view of reality. For me, I started to hate myself for not being happy with the wonderful life I had; to hate myself for not enjoying motherhood, my calling in life; to hate myself for snapping at my kids for the littlest things; and for ever other tiny imperfection I have. And hating myself made me even more depressed which made me hate myself more and on and on. I was pretty sure that there was no hope for happiness. Everyone was so broken, and no one could really be happy. 

Of course depression crossed my mind. I even considered seeing a doctor, but then I thought surely I was just looking for an excuse to be such a terrible person. Plus if it was PPD, which I did suspect once things were really bad, it would pass soon enough. 

(This is the part I really don't want to share, because it's so dramatic, but I'm trying to paint a realistic picture.)
At my lowest points, I genuinely felt that everyone would be better off without me. My husband could find a pretty, sweet, hardworking wife. My kids would have a doting, patient, wholesome-meal-making, Lego-loving mom. My family might miss me for a while but they'd move on and be just fine without me. Friends...it felt like I didn't really have many. Very few made an effort to keep in touch or see me, so why would they miss me? 

I know that's all absolutely crazy. I know it. But at the time, that was my reality. 
Looking back I see how sad and wrong it is, but depression messes with the way you think, and it's not your fault--I have to keep reminding myself that, because even now I feel guilt just writing about it. I never considered taking my own life, but I now have so much empathy, in place of judgment, for those that do. It's tricky because we can control how we feel to an extent, so it's hard to know when it becomes out of our control. But looking back with a (somewhat) stable mind, I know it got out of my control. 

I've felt the fog lifting, and I'm lucky that for me it was temporary. It also came in waves. I did have some good days and some fine days/weeks mixed in with really low ones (another reason I thought it was just my attitude). A lot of people aren't so lucky, so please please please reach out to people. Even--maybe especially--the ones who seem perfectly happy on the outside. And if someone reads this and you can relate in any way, don't be ashamed or blame yourself or think you should just suffer through it. I wasn't good about getting professional help (just do it!!!) but I did tell anyone who asked and really cared how I felt. I wanted to at least be one tiny little voice saying "we don't have to keep it a big, fat secret!" Mental illnesses have been kept hush hush for way too long and are, consequently, way too misunderstood. We can't beat what we don't understand, so speak up. It's NOT YOUR FAULT. 

Here are some brave friends that did a much better job describing it and know more about how to get help (I hope they won't mind me sharing):
Andrea
Tracie
Julie
Jeffrey R. Holland ok, we're not really friends but we should be.


P.S. Mamas, be watching for it the whole first year, not just the first month(s). 


Edit: I didn't mean to make it sound like people weren't/aren't kind and supportive to me. Everyone is so busy and dealing with their own struggles, and even then people took time to offer help and love. My friends and family are all amazing! I was just very mixed up and felt lonely and isolated because that's what depression does. 

9 comments:

Scott & Megan Cardon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brooke said...

Hey girl,

I wish I could say I was a better friend during that time but I hope you know now that you are still one of my closest friends. I'm around and I love you. You're such an organic example of what motherhood really is, without all the sugar coating; and even though you admit it's hard--even painful sometimes--you still make it look lovely and exciting and rewarding. Can't wait to read some books and eat snacks with you, if for nothing more than a good excuse to make time for friendship. (But we both know I love books and snacks too, so this is a big win win win situation for me.) xoxo

Amanda Cooper said...

I probably shouldn't have read this at work. The first paragraph already had me all teary-eyed.

Thank you for always being so honest and brave.

I know I can be a lousy friend sometimes, but I hope you know how much I admire and love you! (I always feel weird saying that, but what can you do). I know you don't want compliments, but I hope you know when I think about the great mom-examples I have in my life, you are right there at the top of the list.

Linda said...

My sweet little Natalli, Thank you for sharing. YOU are an amazing young lady!! I have dealt with being so depressed that all I remember is that everything was always dark. I finally came out of it but it took awhile. Thank you for being brave and sharing how you felt. It just makes me love and appreciate you even more!! PLEASE come and visit sometime, it would be a wonderful break for all of us!!

Sara Nixon said...

I have the the upmost respect for you. I spent a lot of years on antidepressants as a nurse. I know that feeling of " why can't I just be happy or just not pathetic today." I especially know the feeling of the inability to stop crying. I self-sabotaged for a few years before deciding to make a change. I changed careers, exercise habits and routines, but still have a degree of anxiety that I work through with medication as needed, but managed to wean off the antidepressants. I talk out loud, telling myself to calm down, relax, breath. I don't NEED to vacuum today. I don't NEED to cry endlessly because I'm upset with my mom or siblings. I don't need to have the kitchen perfect before bed. I don't have children, so it's not ppd. For me it's genetic. I didn't know this until I started talking to my mom, sisters, cousins. Come to find out, we all have a little of the same thing going on. We talk regularly now to keep an eye on each other and be there for support. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope to have the courage one day to share as well.

natalli said...

Hey you're all really nice and make me feel genuinely loved and validated. Thank you!

Hailey Roper said...

Thank you for continuing to be open and honest! It was thanks to you (and a couple others in my life) for sharing these feelings and experiences with me after having Arlo that made me realize it was real and it was ok to not to be blissfully happy as a new (or not-so-new) mama. I love and appreciate you so much for being so real and helping the rest of us (or me, anyway) to be encouraged to do the same.

Annie said...

Thanks for keeping it real. The hardest trials in my life have been that ones that, while common, are laced with shame, isolation, and misunderstanding. I'm so glad we're cyber friends :)

Lari said...

I really wonder if depression isn't just the normal way most of us always feel. We are all trying so hard to hide it and act happy when I think most of us are really in a dark pit. I have been in and out of the pit many times. I just wish with all my heart I could lighten your load, in both the literal and symbolic ways. I LOVE you so much. Mom