When I got the text that schools were closing last March, it was supposed to be for two weeks. I was sitting in Starbucks with a client writing a plan for his child’s services, and we both received the text at the same time.
“I can handle anything for two weeks,” I thought and continued with our meeting.
During that time, I had the patience of an angel. I cooked all of our meals. I did art projects. We had picnics on the floor. We went outside…a lot. I enjoyed being with my kids, having no obligation to go anywhere. Not having to see people was actually a relief for this introvert.
As those weeks turned into months, my patience started to wane. Learning how to work from home while simultaneously schooling a big kid and managing twin toddlers started to get to me.
One of the things that got to me the most was that there was no flour or yeast to be found at the store. I felt myself tearing up every time I left the house and saw people in masks. “How did we get here?” I wondered.
Managing my emotions got harder and harder. I snapped at everyone for a while. And then I didn’t have it in me to snap anymore. I went quiet. I was in a fog. I had no energy except to go through the motions, holding back the tears, only to long for my bed every second of the day.
Thoughts started to creep in, and I realized that part of what I was feeling was grief. Grief for a life that was gone. Grief for a plan of what was going to happen next. And guilt for wanting to be done with it all.
I knew what was happening…I’d felt this all before. The intrusive thoughts and exhaustion weren’t me. The depression was back. Those two weeks of happiness, relief, and fun were a fluke. Those feelings were the calm before the storm, and nothing was going to pull me out of this dark hole I’d dug for myself unless I started actively doing something about it.
If you read my posts from last spring, you’ll see it. I was falling, I was failing, and I didn’t even notice it was happening until I was so far in that I almost lost the ability to pull myself out.
But here’s the thing about depression: You don’t get to choose when it happens to you. You don’t get to know how hard it hits or how fast it comes on. Depression sneaks up on you at the moment, and you might not know it’s even happening until it’s too late.
I’m lucky. I know the signs. I know what it feels like, and I know how to keep my rational mind before anything life-changing happens that would hurt the people I love.
As I’m writing this, it all sounds so dark. But I want to assure everyone, especially my close family and friends who have walked beside me as I’ve tried to manage my mental health, that now I’m ok. I stopped it in time with the help of my mom, my family, another FCM contributor who gave me a recommendation for the most amazing therapist, and the drive to make sure I got well.
Therapy and medication saved my life this year. Those two weeks were glorious, but it was the time after where things got real. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m closer to being me than I’ve felt in a long time. And that’s a relief.
Those two weeks turned into a year. I’m not the only one who struggled like this, but I am one of the people talking about it. It’s ok to talk about it. It’s ok to feel the way you do. But no one needs to suffer through depression. Talking about it is the first step, and I’ll do that every day of the week if I can help someone else the way my amazing friends and family helped me.