Monday, March 22, 2010

Dude. I'm Bleeding!

Well. Hasn't this been an interesting week.

I won't bore you with the details of the despair (not showering for three days, crying endlessly, blah, blah, blah) but I will tell you the result of the despair:

God Loves Me.

As I sat on the floor in my pajamas while #4 watched PBS and the baby giggled at me (and I cried silently for the third time that morning), I kept praying for help. I wasn't sure what kind of help, just that I needed it. I hadn't had a "down" time in months and months, and so it was an extremely resented familiarity. I was immensely frustrated. It got worse when I took the boys to pick up the Kindergarten carpool. I saw "them." You know "them!" The women who don't have Depression. The women who shower each day. They do their hair. They have on make-up. They have cute clothes. They are put together. I used to be them. I sometimes still am.
I hid in the van and didn't get out until I absolutely had to. I hid from them. I didn't want them to see me. To judge me.
Rationality would tell me (later and now and always) that each woman has her demons, her weaknesses, her trials, and her secret longings. But I wasn't in a rational state of mind at the time. Obviously.
As I drove the boys home, I kept praying for help. "What should I do, dang it!? What should I do?"
And the answer came: Call M.W.

I talked to her (sobbed to her) for over an hour. She listened. She gave amazing advice. She helped me see things more clearly. And I listened to her advice because she knows what it's like to be in my shoes. In fact, there's something to be said about someone who KNOWS. She doesn't just sympathize with my Depression. She KNOWS how it feels because she has it. She doesn't just sympathize with my school-going-work-traveling husband. She KNOWS how it feels because she's been there with her own school-going-work-traveling husband. She has small children. She feels alone. She shares my demons.

After talking with her, I communicated with my gorgeous (and supportive) husband.

[In fact, I feel I need to point out that my husband is great. He's not perfect (who's perfect??!), but he really is fantastic. This whole school/working/being-a-dad thing is hard for him, too, especially since he loves his crazy little family. I don't begrudge his schedule, nor do I resent him for it. It's hard, but it is what it is. My problems could be seen as an indirect result of his time away, but I truly believe they are a direct result of my anxiety to change. To be sure --my chafing against change, and how it triggers my Depression (unfortunately).]

Then I made a decision I already made a long time ago, but never really did (and as my friend Amber said on Saturday, "Knowing and getting ready is easy. It's the doing that is hard!"). I am going to start doing what I know I should be doing.

So I quit teaching piano lessons.
This was my "third thing" that I needed to stop. In fact, I called all the parents this last weekend and this week will be my last week. I only kept two students: my daughters.

I'm also going to talk to the Bishop (hopefully very soon) about my two callings. Give him some info about yours truly. Maybe talk about reducing that to one (because I would go crazy without some sort of calling. Oh, wait. I already am crazy! Ha! Hahahaha!).

My friend (M.W.) told me that having a mental illness of any kind is like having your arm chopped off, and the stub is bleeding. Yet everyone else still expects you to perform the same way. YOU expect yourself to perform the same way! But the arm is gone. You are BLEEDING. If your arm was truly cut off, you would declare an emergency and tell people to cut you some slack and back off a bit, eh? I mean, hello! You're dying, here! Well, Depression is the same. It's real. It's an emergency. Holy heck, your stub is BLEEDING!

I liked that analogy.

Stay tuned for Getting Healthier: Part III!

11 comments:

Alison Wonderland said...

Not to change the subject but are those your crocuses?

Cheryl said...

Yes! There are plain purple, white, and then the combo ones (obviously the picture is the comb one). I love bulbs because I planted them over 5 years ago and they still come up.

Gio, Judi and Boys said...

I am not a good medic, but sometimes I have a few spare bandaids if you need anything!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

So proud of you Cheryl...as one who KNOWS the pain of depression (got my own bloody stub!) I just want to thank you for continually enlightening the rest of those moms about what it's like for us. You are such a well-spoken and brave advocate for us.
Miss you sweet lady. :)

Kim said...

I have three words for you...YOU ARE FABULOUS!!

nweames said...

I love that analogy. I have to agree with your approach, have less things to do has always worked for me, but I can't have nothing to do or I will hide in my house and never come out. It is such a balancing act. Another trick that works for me, it to lower my expectations. When I had a concussion I couldn't do everything, after recovering from a c-section I couldn't do everything, and when you have a mental illness you often can't do everything. I found if I just focused on making time for the things that are most important and then adding others as necessary I was a lot happier and better able to deal.

I'm so sorry this is happening, keep talking to your friend, I know it will be a great help. Someday this will pass and you will be grateful for the lessons learned -- at least that is what I tell myself and hope it is going to be true eventually.

Cardalls said...

I have struggled with post partum and pregnancy induced depression with each baby. FInally with this 5th one I am giving myself a break. I am saying NO so much it's unbelievable. I am taking 'leave of absence' from my calling (with my priesthood leaders blessing) and focusing on keeping my home and family together and functioning because that is all I can do. It has helped me SO much. I feel happy most of the time. Give yourself permission to simplify and then ban the guilt from your life! Guilt should be reserved for sin and that's it!

Amanda D said...

Thank goodness for good friends. :) They can almost always help us see what we can't.

evitafjord said...

The first thing I thought of was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the Black Knight gets his arms, etc. cut off but keeps saying he's fine. Which made me laugh, until I realized that I'm just like the knight. If someone asks if I'm okay, I always say I'm fine, even if I'm clearly not. And the result kinda seems to be that I bleed more, but the answer stays the same. "It's just a flesh wound."
Well, I think you have given me the courage to have a talk with my bishop too. I've been needing to for some time, but was feeling guilty because we don't have a lot of people in our ward willing to work in Primary and I was thinking that if Heavenly Father wanted me to have a break, he'd call someone else. But I'm kinda thinking that maybe the lesson I'm supposed to be learning right now is that I need to speak up and ask for help - not just wait around and let someone else fix it for me. hmmm.

Also, I need an MW. Or I need to suck it up and call my MW (who moved) even though I really hate the phone, on top of hating to admit defeat.

Thanks for the therapy session in your comments ;-)

Emily & Co. said...

I don't know if this totally relates, but it does for me at least. I LOVE this quote by Si. Hinckley, "We have a LOT to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove anything, to be what we are." I've had that quote on my fridge for 5-6 years now and it still makes me stop and think about where I am at and how I am doing. I can relate to almost every post you write, I just don't usually comment because anything I would say sounds very cliche. It takes a lot of courage to say no. Good luck with the changes you're making!

Michelle said...

I thought this was going to be another -- ahem -- honest birth control post. (sorry, but I'm laughing at myself)

But this post is no laughing matter.

I'd say this is different from an emergency, though. I think part of what makes it so hard is that it's more a constant possibility, a reality that has to always be on the table.

So I think part of what makes mental illness so hard is not just the intensity (like losing a limb, sometimes) but that it's not just going to stop when you put on a tourniquet and a lot of gauze.
Mental illness is more a long-haul kind of challenge. So yes, you end up bleeding, but sometimes you are fine, too, or fine enough. I think what can make such constant struggles hard is that they take constant vigilance, You have to be honest and self-aware enough to see the blood loss, and figure out how to replenish that lost blood on a continual basis so as not to faint.

And it sounds to me like you are figuring out how to keep your blood supply at a life-sustaining level.

Yay for you.

I love that Sis. Hinckley quote, btw, Emily. Awesome.