I am just coming out of a few months of a dark depression. It was awful and I felt so hopeless and defeated for much of that time. None of my old "happiness tricks" were working and I was getting worried... I was crying every single day and I couldn't stop it. It was just pouring out of me. I am on my full dose of anti-depressant at least for awhile. I want to make sure I am good and over this hurdle before I take myself down to my maintenance dose. I have not had a bout like this in many years and it seemed to just go on and on no matter what I did to take care of myself. Of course I am "the mom" so I keep moving and doing, but it felt awful, like plodding through deep sand.
A few weeks ago Molly called me and said, she felt like she needed to be back on her anti-depressant. However, it takes a few weeks for them to kick in and that poor girl suffered mightily as her depression picked up speed and the antidepressants weren't working at their full capabilities yet. It was a race.....for the medication to begin to level off her brain chemicals before she was in total darkness. She said it came out of nowhere and it was like being hit by a train. She was flattened. It was horrible to watch. I spent the night with her a few times, I met her for dinner, we talked on the phone, and texted through out the day.
Watching this happen with Molly (who has given me permission to write about this here) and knowing my history with my girl, and knowing my mom's history (hospitalizations, ECT, medications and substance abuse,) and her mom's history (hospitalizations, medications and substance abuse) and my history (medications and comfort eating lol) .....it is clear that there is a genetic component to depression in our family. I hate it. I hate that two of my girls are stricken with this awful debilitating disease and are on psych meds. I worry about what the future holds for little one who has a melancholy personality to begin with. I know my son has also struggled in the past but is not open to treatment or medications. I have wondered if there is something I did to create this? Did I make my fears a reality? Its like a family curse!
I am also aware of how differently my two big girls have handled their individual battles with depression. The first time I thought that Molly might be depressed was around 11 years old. I just loved her and spent extra time with her and eventually it seemed to have passed. I probably bought her new art supplies and got her going on an art journal....that would be so me! LOL At that point I wasn't able to handle the idea that my kids (as in multiple) had problems! I felt it a total reflection on my parenting abilities or lack there of. My girl's first depression hit around 12-13 years old, during puberty. It knocked her flat. We sought help. While we were seeking help in the medical community, she was seeking help of her own. Thus our story began.
As the years progressed, my girls issues progressed into what we all now know they are today. It was a spiral of the greatest proportions. One thing led to another.
As the years progressed Molly did fine, until she wasn't. Her depressions seem to be a blast. They just shout out into her face and lay her out. This is her third bout and by far the worst. However, she handles her life by working hard, working out, eating healthy, maintaining her emotional health, living an honest life....yet still she is hammered occasionally.
They each have dealt with their depression issues in very different manners, yet each still struggle. This time really opened my eyes to this vast canvas that lays before me of our lives. The ways we have handled our stuff, the outcomes, where fault might lie, where mercy does lie. Depression is not a moral issue. Its not a weakness of character. Its not a lack on anyone's part. Its a physical chemical imbalance that we need to constantly maintain and work at cultivating our mental health. And sometimes despite our very best efforts, it still falls apart. I look back at my girl's early years and I think of how desperate she must have felt to find some relief from this gnawing inside herself. However really, if I am going to be honest, I wasn't totally available during those early years because I couldn't bear the idea that I had somehow caused that for her. I lived in a lot of denial that it wasn't as awful or as painful as it really was.
I have since learned so much and I know that depression is not my fault. Addiction is not my fault. I however, do wish I had been more courageous and more pro-active during those early years with my girl. I'm not beating myself up....these are just facts.
This morning the hubs and I spent the morning, like several hours, sitting on our deck under our big tuscan orange umbrella (I just bought it and I LOVE the color) drinking coffee and visiting while 4 dogs rambled around us. I, in a moment of brilliance said, "omg its almost 11! Ive wasted the whole morning!"
My hubs bless his heart, knew enough to not take it personally and said, "THIS is not a waste. Sometimes we need to just be Annette, and thats ok."
I am always learning....
Bless us all....
PS: One of my clients is turning 97 today. I think I am going to bring her some flowers and go get my feet done. What a great day this is! I'm so grateful to be feeling better and that my girls are feeling that life and all of its requirements are doable for today.