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Opening the Door, Just a Crack
I feel like I've been dishonest on my blog lately.

You see there's this 250 pound gorilla sitting in the room with us and I've just been ignoring it. I sit on the couch with my mug of tea, blithely chatting with you about my new camera, Brittany Spears, and the Iowa primaries. Then I get up and carefully step over those large gorilla limbs to get to the teapot.

Depression sucks.

There's no other way to say it. Well, hell, we all know there is, but I can't think of a more succinct way to say it.

I've been sinking into a green hole for awhile now. I've hinted about it. I've whined about it. I've even danced around my anniversary date with the great gorilla. But I've never really come out and said it. So let's get it out of the way.

I'm depressed. I'm on a new medication. I'm seeing a therapist. I've taken a leave of absence from work. My job that I love, that I'm really good at, that I can't seem to properly perform in my current state.

So now you know.

Now you know that I'm not perfect. I'm not superhuman. I can't do it all. I can't have it all. Frankly, right now I'm struggling to just hold on to the things that matter the most.

And it's really hard for me to let other people know about this very real, very raw struggle I'm having right now. Some of my co-workers read this blog. Some people I've known since high school read this blog (Hi, B! Hi, C!). My family reads it. But this is my space. My space. And even if it makes other uncomfortable, I'm going to write my truth.

Let's face it. I'm not really worried about others being uncomfortable. I'm more worried about what others will think of me. Because that's what I do. I talk a good game about not being a conformist, yadda, yadda, yadda, but my life is really about as conventional as it gets.

In one of my posts I once wrote,
I do not save lives. I will not cure cancer. I will never fly to the moon.

If I have an Achilles heel, a tender spot in my self worth that can be breached, this is it. The feeling that I am not living a life of meaning. The fear that I won't leave this world a better place. The fear that I chose the path of least resistance.
Gwen wrote a post several months ago that struck a similar cord in me. She wrote about how so many of us grew up thinking we were extraordinary. That we would do amazing things. We would change the world. And, of course, most of us haven't done that, have we? That pretty much sums up my completely unrealistic discontent.

I know that relating my depression to the realization that I'm not as damn special as I've always thought I was is too simplistic. But it is part of the picture.

In becoming a mother, I faced a seismic shift in my personal identity. It happens to all of us. We have no control over it. It just happens. One minute it was all about "me" and the next it was all about "baby." Now it's all about "toddler." Oh, and "toddler." Can't forget the second one.

While this change in identity and expectations is automatic, it doesn't make acceptance of the change any easier. And it's been hard for me to align my internal view of myself with external and instinctive actions.

Don't get me wrong. I do not regret having children. My family is the one thing I can see with perfect clarity. My family is the best of me. But something about this identity shift, something about becoming a mother has changed me.

Before I even contemplated children, my life was fine as it was. My accomplishments weren't ground breaking, but they were mine and I worked hard for the life and education I had. Now, for some reason, being great at my job and working hard and playing hard just isn't enough for me. I want meaning. I want worth. I want something more.

I just wish I knew what that something is.

Don't feel too sorry for me. I wrote this post more than a week ago but have trying to decide whether to publish it or not. I have bad days, I have good days. At some point the good will outweigh the bad. I know it will.

I do know that tomorrow will be a good day. You see, the DC Metro Moms Blog is having a party and I'm heading up to DC to see some old friends , some friends I somehow missed meeting at BlogHer, and meet some new ones. And if KC hasn't popped yet, maybe she'll be there too!

I have new photos of the boys up at Lawyer Mama Dabbles.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Hang in there!

I think my last post could have been written for you. I hope the new meds help.

I know more than you know about having a life different than expected. Sometimes, though, we need to relish what's good now, rather than what we hoped would be.

I never thought I would be a SAHM Mom with three kids at 35. I thought law school was in my future. Hopefully, it still will be someday. But, lately, I've let up on myself and have been working on being happy as things are. Enjoying my children. Being thankful for my husband. Feeling blessed to be alive in such a beautiful world. Enjoying sunsets and water droplets sparkling in the sun. No matter how depressed I get, it never gets too dark because these jewels in my life light the way.

You also have these jewels and I am sure you'll find you way back.

This was abrave post. Thank you.

Blogger Girlplustwo said...

oh babe, i am so glad you wrote this, the weeks and more of pictures without really hearing your voice was making me worry. i am sorry to hear you've been struggling but glad to know you are taking care of yourself.

there are no superheroes here, sister. we all fall down. it's ok. you are brave and lovely and strong.

Blogger joker the lurcher said...

you sure aren't the only one! i've been on the old prozac for quite a while and i've been off work with depression and anxiety since last july. my field of law is anti-social behaviour and that is really punishing, particularly the children we come across.

and i so relate to the shrinking horizon thing. in 1988 i went round the world on my own. now i can't go into the city where i work without having a panic attack.

but the thing about having children - the most difficult, but also the most important and rewarding thing i have ever done in my life was being a mum. there has never been a second of my son's life that i have regretted having him. as my own mother was a little different (i will send you a link to my other blog and you will see what i mean) this is really special to me.

so hang on in there. the depression thing is a process as well as an illness and you sort of have to go through it to come out the other side.

thank you for writing about this. we all think we are the only one who doesn't have a shiny perfect life!

Blogger ExPatSW said...

I remember all too well the 'search for meaning' when C was little. It's only now, as I look back on those days and see you and C struggling with the same (along with resultant depression), that I realise how deeply meaningful my years of caring for and raising her truly were. You are worth more than you realise but you are intelligent and honest with yourself and will figure it out. Thanks for opening up...I know it's very difficult for you.

And if anyone in your real life has difficulty with your blogging, that's pretty much their problem, not yours. Maybe if my generation had had blogging as a resource, we would have dealt with our depressions better.

Blogger Butterflyfish said...

I recently wrote the "depression sucks" post. Lots of my readers were like "yeah law school sucks for everyone."

I am not going out of my way to correct them, because I am conflicted about the 200 pound gorilla too, but what you describe and what I have is real.

And I can't think of a comment that I would have been happy to see, that would make it easier, except maybe this:

you're not alone.

Blogger jessabean said...

It is real. I wish I could be more brave and talk about it as candidly as you have done. Thank you for sharing, for all of us who can't or won't.

Currently an Effexor girl right here, and it is helping enormously. I'm okay with that.

Here's to hoping you find your way, and have a hell of a time in DC!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very brave post! I hope things start looking up soon, and I admire your courage for writing about this!

Blogger PunditMom said...

Can't wait to see you. We'll talk. I'm sorry it's difficult right now. You really struck a chord with your comments about what our expectations were for ourselves and how things turned out. For me, you've hit the nail on the head -- I thought I would make a much bigger impact than I have. Not sure there's even a tiny ripple.

Blogger OhTheJoys said...

I so get this. I have always been an "achiever" too and it's so hard to understand my self-worth in relation to something where I don't see results every day. I believe that when I look back on my life, I will understand the contribution I made as a mother, but it's so difficult to see in a day to day way -- and too long to wait!

Blogger emily said...

Thank you for being so brave and so honest. I am sure this doesn't help you - but to know that others are out there with similar issues and are able to articulate it to make me feel more "normal" is remarkable. So thank you!

Oh, my sweet friend. I wish I didn't relate to this but at this moment I'm in that same hole. And the new meds? Not working. Or maybe they would if I would take them. But I can't. Too depressed.

I'm so glad you write about this because honestly sometimes I feel so alone in this. It's not just you. It's not just me. Not that it makes it ant easier.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. For being brave and getting it all out there.

You are not alone -- oh, so not alone -- if it helps. There are just so many of us out here who aren't as brave and open as you are about it.

Can't wait to meet you for real tonight. I'm so glad you'll be able to make it!

Blogger CPA Mom said...

very brave post. kuddos to you LM. You? Are a hero to many with this dreadful disease.

Blogger Mayberry said...

I'm sorry you're stuck in the suckiness right now. Take care. I'm sure this post will help many others -- and that's worth a lot.

Blogger Unknown said...

Hi! I came over to say hi for New Years because I hadn't been around anywhere much for the holidays, and I see it's a good day to stop by. I am not sure you know this, but I suffer from night terrors and mild depression, so I take 3 different meds. But January and February are my worst months, because SAD also kicks my but too. So I have been thinking about calling the doc and seeing about upping my meds too. While I am sad to hear you are having a bad time of it, I am glad to see you talking about it. Please don't hesitate to email me if you need a shoulder.

aimee at greeblemonkey dot com

Best wishes and big hugs.

Blogger Gwen said...

Depression does suck. I remember it too well, how suffocating it was. I remember wondering who I was, now that "all" I was was somebody's mother. Maybe that's why I'm so married to the idea that being ordinary, with grace, is one path to contentment. But depression is also a disease. Don't you forget that.

I'm sorry you're going through this, really, really, but I'm happy you're talking about it. People need to know, not just so they can offer you whatever gifts they have, but so they can feel less alone, too.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you did post it. This space is about honesty, about facing the worst. And we are here with you.

Blogger ExPatSW said...

Forgot to post this wonderful book. I read it (in small drabs) whenever things start getting too much.

You Are Not Alone: Words of Experience and Hope for the Journey Through Depression by Julia Thorne

Blogger flutter said...

I'm sorry you're in it. It sucks, it blows, and manages to do it both at the same time.

and you aren't in it alone.

Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Very brave, my snarky friend.

I've found that my family is my greatest joy and my biggest downfall. If there's one thing that's pushing me toward the edge of.. I don't know what, it's them. But if there's one thing that keeps me grounded, it's them. I understand where you're coming from. Maybe not the exact place but the general location.


Blogger Magpie said...

You're brave and strong and doing the right thing. And there will be more good days.

Be well.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could have written this very post, my friend.

I'm struggling with the same gorilla.


Hugs to my very brave friend. I'm thinking of you.

Blogger Violet said...

much love to you. hope everything you're doing helps and you're feeling better. Sorry I don't have anything better to say, just want you to know I'm thinking of you.

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

(((Steph))) Wonderful, honest, courageous, worthwhile you.

Blogger rpfangirljr said...

OH, Steph! {{{HUGS}}}

I think we are in the same boat. If you need to talk about something or nothing at all, just e-mail me.


Blogger Amy said...

I took medical disability leave after The Poo was born, for depression. It was one more in a series of depressive episodes and I knew what to do, but somehow having to tell my boss about it and asking for time off because of it made it extra hard and especially humiliating, even tho my boss was great about it.

I hear this with my heart. Email me anytime for just an ear, if that helps.

Wishing you a peaceful heart.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a pretty kickassmuthafucka. So there's that.

Blogger NotSoSage said...

That feeling you describe. I know it, exactly. Exactly!

How strong of you to be working on it. For you, for your family. I don't know you that well, but I do have a hard time believing that you won't leave this world a better place.

Feel...right. Soon. xox

Blogger NotAMeanGirl said...

We've all done our time in "The Hole". I'm sorry you've been relegated to that hateful, hurtful, heinous place.

It seems to be an epidemic here in the blogaverse. I wonder if that's part of the reason we're all out here reaching for connections. :) Hugs and prayers for you.

Blogger S said...

LM. My friend. You are brave, and you are strong. You may not be able to access that strength at the moment, but it will return to you, you'll see.

I send you my concern, and my support, and these trite words:

This too shall pass.

Blogger Moondance said...

The fact they you were able to take a leave to get treatment and heal better is great. The fact that you were brave enough to request it - I'm impressed. Denying it is much more common. The photography will probably be theraputic, eh? Please let us know how taking a leave helped or hurt.

Blogger Binky said...

The freedom to share experiences like these--which turn out to be more common than we may think--is what makes the blogosphere such a wonderful place.

Blogger Slackermommy said...

I'm proud of you for sharing. There are so many of us that have depression and we need to support one another. Sharing our stories is the start. I often joke that women should be given antidepressants as soon as they give birth. Moms today have so much pressure.

Blogger Bon said...

LM, this was brave. i've been worried about you, wondering...and while the caring and concern i have is real, i'm happy to have something specific to focus it on now...happy to know what's going on.

depression does suck. and i hope the meds help. but i also hope that honesty and reflection and the support and love and understanding that's out here for you help, too...because i think there's real value in stepping out from behind the gorilla.

and you'll help some of us in the process, too...the reflection casts light on everybody.

Blogger Debbie said...

I'm so proud of you for posting this.

You're gonna be okay, babe. We're all here, we're in this together.

*squeezes S tight, then fetches a nice, alcoholic-y beverage for her to slurp*

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post was gutsy, honest, and incredibly important for so many people to read. I struggle with very similar issues, and I have struggled with moderate-severe (meds worthy) depression in the past as well. Complete with a therapist, as you may or may not know. It is very frightening and incredibly frustrating. More women like you need to fess up....it helps us all. Hang in there and be good to YOU.

Blogger ewe are here said...

Congratulations for posting this... and for doing what you need to do to start to feel better and figure out what it is you need to do.

I understand completely the feeling of an 'identity shift' that comes with becoming a mother. Children change everything. Everything. People aren't being honest if they believe that everything else in their lives and in themselves stays the same once they have children... it's just not possible. The trick is to figure out how to deal with it... sounds like you're on the right path to finding it.

Hang in there.

Blogger Andrea said...

I was so glad to finally meet you at the party last night! Depression is so hard (been there with PPD, twice). I have a very strong gut feeling that you will find your way back, that you will find yourself again. Be well.


Blogger Mad said...

Hey you. I'm thinking about you. I think it safe to say that depression is startlingly common in these motherhood parts. That doesn't make it easier but it does make it a bit of a sisterhood.

Blogger Sunshine said...

I didn't see this post before. It's never too late to comment!

The "stuff" I've never alluded to in my own space and how 2007 was so hard was depression at our house. But it's not me, it's hubby. I can only say from the spouse perspective that anything you can and are willing to do to climb out of that dark place, go for it. Reach for it, grasp it. I just finally feel like we turned a corner here, from a very horrible place.
And I really wish I could give you a very big hug.
Hang tough, mama.

Blogger Christine said...

i feel for you, friend. and that is different from feeling sorry for you. i've walked in those shoes, and sometimes i still do. i know this wordy pat on the shoulder isn't nearly the same as a face to face or a cup of coffee but know this--you are loved here and respected. you do so much in and for this world and for those boys.

take care.


Running on empty

Blogger N. said...

Oh, I hear you, honey. I don't even have fond memories of professional successful (unless you count a string of seemingless random short term jobs) to bolster me on my fragile days of thinking I suck at mothering.

You are brave. Brave for posting this. Brave for seeking help. I'm proud of you.

Blogger MARY G said...

That gorilla? Visited me many times. I am going to write a post about it so as not to coopt your comments. I'll tell you when it's up. Hard to live with; hard to write about.
You're brave and beautiful and we're with you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. That 250 lb gorilla becomes a 500 lb gorilla in legal circles, since we get paid to be perfect, no? Good for you for taking the time needed to allow you to recover your equilibrium, so that you can be the best you, the best mom, wife, lawyer, that you can be. You're not doing your clients any good practicing at less than your best, as I all too well know. So good luck, and holding you in the light.

Blogger imbeingheldhostage said...

Ok, I have typed 3 different messages and deleted them all. So I will just say, thank you for posting this (I feel like you were reading my mind with this post).

Blogger Tarasview said...

I just wanted to tell you that I understand. I have been struggling with depression for 5 or so years now. I talk about it some on my blog and I applaud your honesty. It helps me to share and I hope it helps you too.

And yes, depression sucks. I completely agree.

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