Carol Jane Remsburg
They have pills for that now I hear. Geez, they have pills for just about everything now. I see the advertisements on television. The ones where they tell you that "being overweight isn't your fault, stress causes you to gain weight…" Or, how about the new non-prescription pills for fatigue, lack of libido, or ones that promise better mental focus? Back in the 60's and 70's Geritol® promised all that and would keep you regular too—all in one little pill. But sometimes a pill, prescribed or otherwise, isn't the answer to what's wrong with you. Sometimes it is just a bout with depression—not the serious kind, but just enough to make you more than a little moody. This kind of depression disrupts your life.
Okay, that's putting it lightly, "moody." However, natural light deprivation (commonly known as the winter blues), combined with a high-stress work environment and NOT being 25 or even 35 anymore takes its toll. Being the one on the home front to deal with the house, the bills, the yard work, the taxes, and raising a teen tends to push the outer limits of this particular 40-something woman; most especially in light of the mass-firings going on in the workplace—where any misstep can see you out the door.
That kind of setup nearly always precedes the suggestion: "see your doctor." Doctors don't have all the answers plus they've got enough stress in their lives too. Answers for everything aren't found in little pills or a bottle or even a self-help book. Mostly the answers are found within after a little rest, a tad of reflection, and a very hard pull at the proverbial 'boot straps."
Thus far the year 2004 hasn't been pretty. It's been cold, dark, and very busy. Yes, the sun rises each morning but often it is dark by the time I leave work and the residual home duties leave me exhausted. Sound familiar? No, this isn't a whine per say, but rather a straight-forward depiction of winter life. After the rush and buildup of the holidays, the cold quiet aftermath of winter usually means more rest. This year I've had less of that than I normally would and the work arena has been frought (yes, that word is appropriate here) with firings and suspensions brought about by new and un-tried management ready to make a name for themselves. Being the primary bread-winner in our family and with a spouse suffering from severe RA whose future work potential is limited, that simply adds to the stress.
I really didn't acknowledge what I was suffering as depression/stress right off. I was thinking that my normal PMS was having an extended and exaggerated span, also possibly coupled with the early onset of menopause. My mind was busy trying to make it anything BUT depression. Please know too, that depression doesn't always make you withdrawal. It can make you lash out especially on those you love most—your family.
In the throes of a bad night, one can highlight every failure, perceived or real, and never recognize any accomplishment and spurn any hint of self-value. In those moments, you'll feel that you've never been anything but a blight taking up space on the planet. Those moments simply do wonders for the self-esteem, and if you are of the imaginative sort, you can stretch this into being simply fungus.
Arguments/fights with my just-teen daughter over wet towels on the carpet, an obvious lie/fib, and then a sassy, smart-assed remark added on were enough to make me nearly nuclear. She'd act and I'd overreact, to the point I felt like there was no place for solace except to run away into the dark and the cold and maybe there would be some quiet somewhere. Someplace where I could regain my equilibrium and my sense of self and get ready for another day—one I wasn't ready to face.
I won't kid you that over the last few months there have been times when I wanted to opt out of everything. Okay, okay, I was having drama-moments but even then, it felt too inviting, too real, and all too tempting.
There are many levels to depression. At the very bowels of those torpid depths, people kill themselves. A few levels up, they find an outlet or some form of help simply because they know they can't gain purchase to pull themselves up without help. Then, there are those, like me, just above mid-level, but well beyond scratching-the-surface, who know where the path will take you—if you let it. That's when you begin to claw and crawl your way up before it leads you down the passageway of no return. Survival kicks in and you have to. Being a mother, often you do this not for yourself, but for your children.
Initially, you feel like you child or children and hubby would be better off without you, and might even benefit from your insurance proceeds. But when you think about it longer, you know that's not the truth. Hubby has never paid a bill in his life and juggling a checkbook and the monthly bills would be something he could manage but not without coming within a hair's breath before bottoming out his credit. Keeping the house just above vermin level would be difficult even if father and daughter struggled and worked together—no matter how much I've tried to teach them. Besides, who would help lead my daughter over the scary precipice into young womanhood?
Yes, with depression, the easy way out is to leave. It's much harder to dig in and stay and overcome the depression.
I've spent my life feeling, no, hoping, that I was someone special, that I had something to offer more than simply drawing in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. I know this to be a natural concept among most of us. We want to make a difference in this world and to find our place in it and shine.
Often I'll focus on the small things, the little things in life that are special that we often overlook—the warmth of a home, a kiss on the brow to a sleeping child, the first flower of spring, the grandeur of a summer storm, or the touch of a loving embrace. Sometimes all it takes is the glow of a candle to shed a different perspective or the strains of a melody playing softly but one that moves you to know that life does have meaning.
While I'll never write the great American novel or even grab another's attention for more than a brief span, I can say I've managed to support my family this far, kept them warm, safe, and sane. Anything else I manage is gravy.
Perspective is everything. Sometimes we have to really get outside of ourselves to look deeply within. I'm surprised that it's turned out this well so far. Spring is finally here and its brilliance will carry me the rest of the way into the light and the laughter.
The glow of the candlelight helps along with a snuggle from my kid and my kitty, that big ball of loving orange fur which can only be Stinky.
I hope you find that Spring brings you along with me—back into the light.