Except for when it isn’t.
Every once in a while I feel the need to talk about mental illness. Okay, my mental illness. I’ve been on the flip side and scrolled through amazing blogs where it seems that everything is perfect and wonderful all the time. Times like that I feel like a giant loser, like everyone else is clued in on life and I’m missing out. I wish these blogs/facebook pages/lives had a blooper reel describing piles of laundry that are never conquered, the annoyance of ants munching on crushed goldfish crackers in the kitchen, the pain of hearing your three year old spit out the swear words you let slip in anger, the exhaustion from a constantly nursing toddler, the fear and hurt welling in your breast from a defiant teen, the meaninglessness of every day work tasks, the loneliness of having a wonderful husband but going for months without any semblance of intimacy. But who would read that? I don’t know who would read that, but I know I have to write it. If I am going to talk about all the good in my life so publicly, then I have to talk about the bad. Otherwise I am fake and there could always be someone like me… out there on the internet… wondering if they are the only ones battling inexplicable sadness in the midst of such a good life. Hence, me writing about things probably better left in a private journal. Oh well.
Everyone, EVERYONE, has bad days. And many people, MANY PEOPLE, endure worse days than this. My children are healthy, my husband and I have jobs, I have food and water and coffee! Yes, my life is beautiful, full, and glorious. BLESSED.
That is what makes clinical depression so insidious. There may be a bunch of small stresses and annoyances that trigger depression. Or there could be not a single damn thing wrong. The average, every day stuff has the ability to completely debilitate me. I can feel angry, hurt, sad, worthless, and bent on destruction for no damn reason. Then that adds on guilt. I should be okay. Things should be okay. But they’re not okay. I am really good at hiding when things aren’t okay. I’m pretty sure Sam is the only one who knows how not okay I am. When we have to have discussions about when and if I should go to the hospital or who I should call if things get bad or yes, bathing still should happen every day and how that constant drum in my heart that echoes “bad mom bad mom bad mom” isn’t true. When I think about how outwardly competent I can be at work (I’m getting things done!), how outwardly loving I can parent (hugs and cuddles!), how outwardly altruistic I can be at church (I will volunteer for everything!), how outwardly tender and loving I am (no hate, no guns, no meat, love for all!), how I pour so much energy in being okay, looking okay, acting okay, I am pretty amazed at how well you all buy it. Why do I fake being okay? Because nothing fucks up a kid’s life quicker than a parent who isn’t okay. I love my children more than anything and I don’t want to mess this parenting thing up.
But I am fucking up because I’m not okay. There is this hollow empty space right under my breastbone that I try to fill with hugs, projects, food, music, books, laughter, even God, and it just seeps out of me. Then it just fills with anger. Raw, pure, self-hatred. I am 34 years old and I still feel like an angry, confused, lost 14 year old girl. I’m a fuck up. Then I hurt myself. I find myself judging how much I can get away with hurting myself and that is a very dangerous game to play.
So maybe yesterday I spent a half-hour weeping in my van in an empty parking lot. Trying to Facebook friends who are therapists, trying to call my parents, searching on my smart phone for intake guidelines for mental hospitals, bemoaning the fact that my legs are cut to shreds again by my own hand. All this while Sam is at home bathing the kids and playing with them. And I am falling apart. For absolutely no damn reason.