It’s been over 5 years. 5 years since I found out that my marriage was coming to an end. Not because I wanted it to but because he….wanted different things. I was in a naive happy place, I guess. A place where I didn’t realize that really bad things happen to everyone, even you. The details of my divorce were ugly and left me shattered and broken, and from that time forward I would never be the same. A lot of changes came with my new found single mom life and many of them came and went but one of those things would stay with me, even as I type, it remains.
This post isn’t about divorce, it’s just where it all started for me, the anxiety and depression. I was forced into therapy and medicated, I refused to admit that I was depressed and instead decided that if I exercised more and told myself that I deserved more I would be happy so I quit taking my medication and executed plan B. I got remarried to the man of my dreams and we became pregnant with a honeymoon baby. I was so happy, I knew I didn’t need medication and therapy, it was clearly just situational. Our son was born 8 weeks early and spent some significant time in the NICU but he was beautiful, perfect in every way, and I was happy. He came home from the hospital and I cuddled him and my 3-year-old at the same time, we had the most perfect little family and I was happy. I can’t tell you when it happened or why but suddenly, I wasn’t happy. My situation didn’t change, but I did. I didn’t dare tell my husband because I didn’t want him to think he was doing anything wrong or decide I was a project he didn’t need. I decided I would just run harder, lift heavier and tell myself every day how blessed I was, that would fix it.
It didn’t and shortly after that I was pregnant again, and this time it was our first girl. The timing wasn’t ideal and that upped my level of anxiety but I chose to just call it stress and move on. I was slowly breaking apart, and I could feel it but I didn’t need help. If I got help that was me admitting that my ex-husband had won and that I was in fact broken and weak. My baby girl was born and I was on cloud 9. She was everything I had always imagined she would be and more. It had been 5 months since her birth and it happened, I had waited too long. At this point I could have been in Disneyland, riding a unicorn with cotton candy in hand, swimming in money and I wouldn’t have cracked a smile.
I wouldn’t get out of bed. I could hear my kids outside my door crying that they were hungry and I still couldn’t get up. I didn’t eat anything because I was “fat” and needed to lose weight or I just ate everything I could get my hands on. I was always yelling, you could see the fear in my kid’s eyes when they made a mistake because they knew what was coming. I couldn’t feel positive emotions, happiness, optimism or even love. I sent my son to school and was annoyed when he wouldn’t get out of the car because he said he forgot to give me a kiss goodbye. My anxiety was at an all-time high. When I couldn’t get a hold of my husband I was sure he was dead or with another woman. Even though the logical side of me knew that those weren’t happening, I still couldn’t help but sit on my couch, a nervous wreck, until I heard from him. I was sure that my children, my husband or myself were going to die soon. The idea of death consumed my every thought. I would stay up at night worried, my skin crawling because my 3-year-old was complaining of neck pain earlier in the day and I was sure that it was cancer. I was scared to drive, always bracing myself for an impact that would never happen. I had waited too long and maybe it was now too late.
There are going to be people that read this and think, “what a drama queen,” but that is part of the reason I didn’t want help and people are scared to seek it. We live in a world where sadness is depression and stress is anxiety and while I will never diminish someone else’s feelings, that wide range of emotions is what makes it hard to decide when you actually need help and also prevents other people from understanding the full magnitude of these feelings. I was terrified to talk to someone. What kind of mother looks a doctor in the face and says “I’m afraid that I don’t love my children?” What kind of person has to say the words “I wish life didn’t exist so that I didn’t have to worry about death” out loud? What weak individual needs someone else to fix them because they aren’t strong enough to fix themselves? If I have to take a pill to be happy, am I really happy? Also, what kind of magic pill is going to fix all of this? Turns out that I was that person. My biggest fear was that I was going to show the real me that I had been hiding from the world to a doctor who would tell me that I was being dramatic but that’s not what happened.
That little pill doesn’t mean my ex-husband broke me, it means that I’m in control and that I love myself. It gives me the chance to show the world that I’ve been put back together in the most beautiful way. For the first time in a long time, I look at my children with a love that is incomprehensible and could never be contained, the way a mother should see the children her body carried. I love my body for what it’s done and am fiercely proud of myself as I watch it improve. My rambling 6-year-old fascinates me and I’m sad when he jumps out of the car in the morning without looking back because it’s a sign that he’s getting older. I don’t burst into tears when my baby won’t nap and instead choose to cuddle and let the dishes wait. I am still afraid of death but have found ways to embrace the uncertainty of life because at what point do you just enjoy every second instead of letting it slip through your fingers while you worry? I smile text my husband and melt when I see him across the room because man I am one lucky girl. I still cry and stress and yell because I’m human but I have given myself the opportunity to be the person I was always meant to be. I walk around my 800 square foot apartment that is half covered in laundry that needs to be folded with two out of three cars outside my house that are nonfunctional and I can’t think of a time in my life that I have ever been more blessed.
So if you feel that you are being swallowed up by the jaws of emotions out of your control, you are not alone. Depression and anxiety can pull you down and those that have never experienced either of these emotions will never understand the pressure at those depths. You can never be too shattered and you will never have waited too long to be rescued. On the untamed seas of depression and anxiety are lighthouses shining, hoping you will seek them. Maybe your lighthouse isn’t that pill and instead is just someone to talk to that sees you through nonjudgmental, loving eyes and can help you to see yourself the same way. Or maybe the light that saves you is exercise and a change in nutrition but no matter the source of your light, you are worth saving. I know you don’t feel that way now but I promise that you are and that you can feel that way too. Someday, through self-realization and change or through the help of others you won’t feel those debilitating waves crashing against you, again and again, every time you try to stand. We are not broken and unfixable. Life is meant to be enjoyed and no matter how many times we are knocked down we’ll get back up. We are not weak, we are strong and no matter the depths, we will rise.