Personal Entries

A menacing beast

*I’ve put up this post and taken it back down several times in the past day.   During the short time it was up it seems to have struck a chord, and so it’s back and it stays.  Thank you so much to those who so kindly emailed.


Like  many, I’ve had bouts of depression in the past.   Like all who have ever suffered from depression, I’d like to avoid it in the future.

The difference between struggling and depression, for me, is that when I’m struggling I can still help myself.  I can still move to do the things I know will strengthen me.

I’ve been struggling  for weeks now,  straining too much under the weight of responsibilities that come with single motherhood, the stress of a challenging year. This single mom thing?  I wouldn’t recommend it.   I adore those boys.  I love them through and through with every tiny bit of me, but Lord, is it hard.   I’m It.   Everything comes back to me every minute of every day, and there is no time when I can lay my basket of responsibilities down.  I’m the cushion, the net, the armor, the levity, the balance and the Mom and the Dad,  and I’m so worn out.

I’ve been trying to do what needs to be done to get me strong again:  exercise,   rest,  eating well, asking for help and support, evaluation of the stress I’m under–stress there isn’t much I can do anything about.  My brain can’t take this much struggle, this much stress, this much draining out and nothing coming back in to strengthen me,  and this past week there’s been a tipping point.  I’ve come to the end of my resources, and I just don’t have anything left in me.  I’m cooked, and the  huge, menacing beast of black depression is here -it’s this close, so close I can feel its breath- and I’m terrified by its proximity.  I’ve been trapped and lost in that horrible darkness before, and I’d do almost anything to avoid returning to that place.

My Mom will be coming home from the Netherlands for a week.  I ‘ve found that at this point, the point where my dreams are becoming troubling, when I can’t straighten my thoughts out, when the swirling in my head won’t stop and I can’t seem to help myself, the only thing to do is to hand things over to someone else before it gets worse.  I need to let someone else be in charge, to let someone else pick up the basket of responsibilities I’m too worn out from holding to hold right now.  Thank God, thank God, my Mom will do this for me, and I feel lighter just knowing she’s arriving tonight. The tiniest little light of hope has appeared, and I can’t tell you how welcome and surprising it is in the darkness.

The last time I called upon her this way was over three years ago.   She came home for two weeks, put me to bed, and handled my life for me.  She loved my kids, fed me, and served as Drill Sergeant of Rehabilitation.  Eat!  Sleep!  Sit in the sun!  Sleep again!  This seems to do the trick: a break.   Preemptive, prophylactic bed rest.   A complete immobilization of my head seems to be what is necessary to keep if from slipping into scary darkness.  I’m a big fan of doing what needs to be done to keep that from happening.

My Mom will graciously step in, and I will happily relinquish control.

Why am I telling you this when I don’t have to?  I’ve thought long and hard about that.  A lot of people read this blog.  A lot of people struggle with this condition, and yet there is a certain shame to it; you must be weak or selfish if your head goes haywire, to have symptoms you can’t control.  You must be lacking in faith, you must be meant to learn from this.  Bullshit.  No one would say that about diabetes or heart disease, and it’s the same exact thing: human bodies do this.  But, unlike other illnesses, the workings and mechanisms of the brain are still largely unknown.  The brain is the last frontier of the human body, and we just don’t have this physical malfunction figured out yet.

The only reason not to tell you this is shame, and yet none of us should be any more ashamed of depression than we would be of a broken arm.  I want my children to see me handle this pragmatically, effectively, and without the subterfuge which would imply this is something shameful.

This is how I handle this condition: I know this is a weak spot in my health, and so I try to live in a way that makes me strong, I try to practice good coping skills.  If the illness breaks through, I try to act quickly to stop it.   That’s what you do with illnesses, right?

If I had any other illness, I’d be open about it, and so I will be with this one too.

But people?  Seriously?  Don’t forget the monsters or I’ll kick all your hienies.


6 thoughts on “A menacing beast

  1. Hey Katie,
    Just read this today and I’m so glad you posted this – depression is really hard, and it doesn’t help that people don’t talk about it – the day I told my boss (to explain my behaviour at the time as i was relapsing badly), i reported back to my mum and Nick – both were proud of me for doing so, but warned me against telling my workmates in case they used it against me.
    I was shocked, and disgusted – the thought had never crossed my mind that people would use someones depression as a way to bring them down further. The sooner everyone thinks the way you do – that it is an illness, not an excuse or a mood or a lesson to the ‘evil’ minded – the better.
    Will be emailing you soon about wedding rings 🙂

  2. Katie,
    I am so sorry you have to struggle with depression. And I am also glad that you are taking care of yourself and getting the help you need. No, there is no shame in depression (or any other illness); thank you for your courage in sharing this with the world. For what it’s worth, your writing and your creativity and your sense of humor always bring me back to my own wonder and appreciation of how life can be silly, mundane and so exquisitely beautiful at the same time, which helps me chase away my personal inner monsters. I am sending you a big interwebular hug and some interwebular hot tea with strawberry jam and chocolate.

  3. Have you read the book eat pray love? You would love it, I’m sure. I’ve read it twice and both times it helped me get back to myself and it gave me the push I needed to get myself back together after a really rough time 🙂 feel better

  4. Katie,
    I applaud your recent post. Never ever be ashamed to put your basket down. Life has a tendency to overwhelm us (me) at times, more often than not. To recognize this darkness, to know you are on the edge of it and you are addressing it, I would like to give you a standing ovation. Not a lot of people would seek help and you are, so take care of yourself and kick that rat-bastard in the hienie. You are in my thoughts and prayers and I really do mean this from the bottom to the top of my heart. Hang in there, this too shall pass.

  5. Thanks for sharing this. Many times people who mean well simply say the wrong thing in their (dare I say “our”) attempt to fix things. People (and I count you as one of the best in that category of beings) aren’t machines to be fixed. If we don’t need to be fixed, we do need help.

    Sometimes help looks like a mom coming into town for a couple of weeks. Whenever it looks like friend with a listening ear or a helping hand, I hope I can be that for you.

    I am so glad you are my friend.

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