After writing a post titled Joy is a Choice, I am now here to write about the fact I am depressed today. Not I’m-falling-into-the-abyss depressed, just glum I guess you could say. I was doing super well the past few days so I guess a bit of a crash was inevitable. Right? Maybe not but I’m going with it.
Christmas is a time to rejoice and I’ve been getting on my husband’s nerves telling him it over and over. He’s been a little glum himself and that’s probably not the best thing to say to some who’s bummed out. It’s probably a little really annoying as all hell. But it’s hard not to say it to someone being grinchy.
I am here writing this because I want to be honest and not just put my best foot forward, to try to make it seem I’ve triumphed over my struggles and am just 100% serene and dandy (no one is. no matter what their Facebook feed says). I am here writing this because life is a process and even though I am depressed, I know I am moving forward.
I know because I was able to say to myself, “this won’t last forever. you won’t always feel this way.” I tend to get so into how I’m feeling in the moment, I am convinced I will always feel that way. I also challenged some black and white thinking I tend to fall into. And even though I absolutely believed the string of horrible thoughts repeating over and over in my brain (in this instance, the recurring theme that I am a terrible mother who has ruined her children. what an awful thing to say to someone, even if it’s myself), I did remind myself that I know intellectually I am not seeing clearly. I am depressed and we have distorted thinking when we are depressed. And then I tried to come up with a counter-argument.
I kept seeing patients and doing some things for home in between. And I think the most important thing is, I went and chatted with my coworkers. Not about how I was feeling, but about the fact it is December 22nd and my husband and I are desperately scrambling to get a Christmas tree (he has since texted me he found one. thumbs up to my awesome hubs who did this with a baby and preschooler in tow no less). We talked about the coincidence the xray tech and I are both from families that grow Christmas trees, about how the nurse feels about his wife being pregnant and they educated me on fiberoptic Christmas trees (bizarre in my opinion and too much like those weird pink Christmas trees in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”).
I started to feel better and decided to make myself eat breakfast. I didn’t feel like it but I reminded myself not eating was not good for the depression. Reminded myself I am a fighter and will not just go into this willingly. Reminded myself even if I’m a terrible mother, I am at least one who refuses to stop trying to be better.
I have to celebrate the small victories, the day to day. I used to wonder how therapy could possibly help a sadness as deep as mine, one which seemed to come purely from the chemicals in my head. One that surely could only be fixed with the right pill. There is no dramatic moment when therapy kicks in and you’re cured. There is a slow process, though, of doing the work. Of facing your demons, yes, but also of learning all these little skills you never learned growing up. Each time I use one, each time I don’t go gently into that abyss, I have to remind myself of how far I have come even if I am not cured. Even if I am a still a little more melancholy (alternating with a little more wound up) than most. And this too I learned in therapy.
This will probably be a somewhat glum Christmas for us since we don’t have family or friends but it will be joyful too. We will laugh, watch our 4 year old squeal with delight when she unwraps her Frozen bike, feel triumphant if we get our 15 year old to smile with the silly games I’ve planned for Christmas day, pop the bottle of champagne I’ve been saving at Christmas dinner because Christ is born and there’s nothing better to celebrate.
Life is hard. We all really do have our cross to bear. Some of us were better prepared for it than others. I am sad when I think I may not be preparing my kids for it. I don’t need them to have an easy life. They’ve already been through enough to have cancelled that possibility. But I want to prepare them to persevere and to find joy amidst it all. And so, I must persevere because it’s never too late.
A new year began in the Catholic church a few weeks ago with the beginning of Advent. Christ is about to be born as he is every year. The rhythm of the year continues. He will be born again in another year no matter how this one goes. It is never too late.