What You Don’t Know. The Beginning of My Depression Story.

I was diagnosed with depression nearly 12 years ago. That’s how long I tell people I have dealt with depression.

Realistically, however, it has been much, much longer. I suspect I have suffered with some form of anxiety or depression since I was 12, maybe even as young as 10. In fifth grade I remember the crushing feeling as the older girls bounced basketballs off of my head during basketball camp. They thought it was hilarious. My heart still hurts and pounds when I think of it.

It wasn’t the embarrassment that was so paralyzing. It was the thoughts. “What is wrong with me that they think it’s so funny to bounce balls off of my head?”

What is wrong with me? There was something wrong, but it wasn’t with me.

Certainly those girls have long forgotten what they did to that funny, looking (wrong with me again??) red-headed girl. But for me, those thoughts of worthlessness, of hopelessness, of deep despair grew and persisted.

I could list countless times as a tween or teen that added to my “low self-esteem.” That’s what it was called then. Even I could diagnose myself with that. Somehow I always thought I would grow out of it. Then, I decided it was just because I was “shy.” So, I did everything I could to fit in. A long list of horrible life choices followed.

I felt so alone.

Lone yellow leaf on bare branch
Lonely Leaf

 

I decided to get help just before I got married in 2002. I had no idea at the time I was pregnant. The doctor and I chalked it up to wedding planning jitters and he sent me on my way with my first prescription. By the time the medication had a chance to get to work in my system, I found out I was pregnant and knew I needed to stop taking the medicine. Along came the wedding and I then I immediately went right into the crazy hormones of pregnancy.

My pregnancy was a breeze. I was never sick. I barely gained any weight. My belly stayed relatively tiny. I felt beautiful, perhaps more beautiful than I ever had in my entire life. Labor began right on cue – I labored mostly at home. We went to the hospital and my beautiful son was born at 11:15 pm on August 7, 2003 in a huge whirlpool birthing tub. I had given birth naturally. I was proud and I felt strong.

Then we went home. I remember thinking, “Seriously?! These people are going to let me take this tiny baby home? How do I keep it alive??”

We lived on a small acreage at the end of a long gravel road. Never one to like lots of people around, I was looking forward to having lots of uninterrupted time with my new son. My husband at the time had taken a few days off of work to help us settle in. The first couple of days I was sore and recovering from a minor infection so I didn’t feel well. But in the back of my mind I felt fear. A fear like I had never known before. It made no sense. Everything was perfect. Wasn’t it?

When my husband went back to work I noticed the panic attacks for the first time. I was gripped by terror. Of what, I didn’t know. I just knew my heart pounded and I couldn’t breathe. And the worst time was always sun down. That 5 – 7 pm time was horrendous. I needed to get supper ready. I needed to get the baby a quick meal. I needed to prepare for the next day.

But I couldn’t stop crying. And I couldn’t stop shaking. I thought my heart was going to give out. My husband never understood it.

Now I know that I had Post-Partum depression. It is different for all women. For me it was a very fearful time, full of dark thoughts and intense panic.

As my hormones settled I realized that that “sundown” time never did get better – even now, I still hate this time of day. I began to think about and research depression. It was not unheard of in my family. But it was…not talked about either. I was always the dramatic one, the sensitive one. I didn’t want to cause trouble so I learned and stayed quiet.

Then, divorce. It was tragic. It shoved me down a hole so deep I was sure I was never going to climb out. I wanted to die. I thought about how I might be able to die. I quite literally have blocked out weeks of time around that part of my life. I am not sure how I took care of my son. I’m not even sure how I survived the shredding pain in my heart and head and body.

That is when the depression became very real.

Please watch for the second part of my depression story, coming soon.

Just Paint Her Toenails Already

Painted Toenails in Grass
Painted Toenails in Grass

The “duties” of a man and a woman have pretty much always been different. I can’t claim to understand how a man determines what he needs to do in a day. What I do understand is that a woman feels as if she needs to do everything that everyone else does not do.

Let’s take mornings for example:

A Morning in the Life of a Guy

1) Alarm goes off
2) Check phone for emails and social updates
3) Shower with soap & shampoo
4) Shave
5) Brush Teeth
6) Eat breakfast while catching up on sports news
7) Go to work

A Morning in the Life of a Woman

1) Alarm goes off
2) Make bed
3) Open curtains and blinds in entire house
4) Straighten up along the way – trash, dishes, etc.
5) Feed the animals
6) Eat breakfast while scouring magazines for recipes and general life tips
7) Load everyone’s dishes into dishwasher
8) Shower with shampoo, conditioner, two kinds of soap and rake snarls out of curls
9) Slather on lotions, medications, essential oils, and hair products
10) Put on makeup to feel prettier
11) Agonize in front of closet but wear the same things over and over
12) Dry, hairspray, and push hair into some kind of manageable state
13) Pack lunch, put in a load of laundry, sweep the floors, wipe the counters
14) Go to work

This is all before 9 am.

Most days I can handle doing all the extras. Most days I even enjoy being needed.

But some days…

It is mid-summer and my toenails had still not been painted. I have been asking the guys in my house if they would paint my nails for weeks. Most times I got a smirk and a “No.” Sometimes I’d get the “Feet are gross” excuse. Sure, I can do it myself, but I am hoping you will want to do something to show me you love me.

I get it boys. It’s not a fun chore. It’s not a sexy chore. It’s not a manly chore.

But your lady works hard. She does a lot of things you don’t even realize. She does a lot of things you hate to do so you don’t have to do the things you hate to do. She does it because she loves you.

She asks you to paint her toenails half-heartedly cause she already knows your answer is going to be no. She hopes by some miracle you will look at her and see how much she could really use a little attention. She wants you to see that by holding her sore, callused feet in your big manly hands, it makes her feel safe and secure and wanted and loved. And by doing something not so “manly” you are showing her you are not ashamed to do what needs to be done to make her feel loved.

You’d be surprised how something so simple can grow a woman’s love and respect for you. You’d be surprised how much it will fill her love and happiness tanks for days to come.

So just paint her toenails already.