Depression taking over my life

OK, so I clearly haven’t been on here for awhile.  I have been busy, true, but I wouldn’t be completely honest with you if I didn’t admit that I have been having quite some time keeping the negativity at bay.  There have been a few days-long stretches where I could barely get out of bed.  And I blame myself and heap oodles of self-hatred my way, saying that I should try harder and that I need to ignore my feelings and just be there for my children and my husband.  I feel guilty and awful most of the time, paired with debilitating anxiety.  Hubby, although he tries extremely hard to be understanding and supportive, is understandably frustrated and overwhelmed with dealing with our crazy household (the kids don’t stop) as well as a spouse who wants to check out most of the time.

I don’t exactly know what set it off.  I am feeling overwhelmed with the task of housekeeping and motherhood right now.  I am tired of barely keeping up with the mess and the needs of five other creatures (eight, if you include the pets).  I am exhausted with not being enough.  I crave the delicious feeling of accomplishment – of feeling pride in a job well-done and the satisfaction of being competent at a task.  Motherhood doesn’t offer this emotion….not really, anyhow.  The task of raising a child is never done.  Even when they are adults – they could screw up badly and, as a parent, you will always wonder if that failure of theirs is somehow tied to your failure to feed them organic meat.

When I was younger, unmarried and childless, I was an organizational freak.  I loved having everything neat and tidy, everything in its place.  I thrived on making my space beautiful and having my decor reflect who I was and what I loved.  I think that is why, now that I am part of a household with young children, I become so discouraged with the state of my surroundings.  These surroundings are messy.  They are dirty.  They are disorderly.  They are ugly.  I could spend every second following my children around, yelling at them to pick up, to not take that out, to leave my stuff alone, but that would still probably not achieve my desired goal: to have a beautiful and orderly and calm place to call home 24/7.

Readers will argue that having a home-design-magazine-worthy home is a silly goal while being a SAHM to youngin’s – that they are only young once, and energy and time should be spent playing with them instead of worrying about the amount of mess they make.  I would agree.  But perfectionism and depression are filled with a font of irrational thoughts that don’t make sense and obsessively spin around in your mind making you feel that there really is no point and you might as well give up.

So, this last month I really have.  I have dropped the ball on housework, I have let the kids watch day-long marathons of Netflix, and I have essentially checked out.  Occasionally I have been able to summon enough gumption to cook dinner or do laundry.  I still run the kids to lessons and play-dates and if any of my friends ask I am doing JUST FINE.  But I am locked in a gloom that is very difficult to shake.

We took a family vacation last week and I was able to get outside of myself and just be for a few days, which was nice.  But coming back home was hard, getting back to real life was hard.

I go through something with my medication every two years or so where the normal dosage suddenly just doesn’t cut it anymore.  So I am starting a supplemental medication along with my normal prescription.  I am hoping that there is an improvement.  Generally, I have always felt that before the positive thinking and self-care suggestions my doctor and psychologist have suggested can kick in, there needs to be a biological “jump start” in the form of drugs in order to to be able to move forward.  And I feel like the current dosage is no longer cutting it.  I worry that by the time I am 60 I will be taking such an inordinately large dosage of psychotropic prescription drugs that I will no longer, chemically, be me.  Or that after so many years of taking antidepressants my brain will be severely damaged or I will develop a giant, inoperable tumor thanks to the miracle drugs that have gotten me out of bed and into the land of the living for 40 years.  But I suppose it will have been worth it.  Not living under a constant, debilitating cloud of depression is worth it.  I think.

So that’s what has been going on.  I am hoping to check in more often going forward.  I am hoping I will have happier, more sunny things to write about next time.  I know I will be fine, the sky is not falling, and life is actually beautiful.  I know all of that.  I just need a little help (and prayers) getting to the point where I can really feel it, too.

Thanks.

A Perfect Marriage

 

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Hubby showing me his moves on the dance floor.  (And he is doing a bent-leg shimmy here…he is short but not THAT short!)  It’s always a good thing when you can laugh at with your spouse.

I’ve been musing about marriage lately,  and it just so happens today is my Twelfth wedding anniversary!  That seems crazy to me that we’ve been married a dozen years.  It has gone by very quickly, but there are alternately those times where it feels like it has been forev-ah.

Jacob and Nancy Crookse

Marriage means stickin’ it out through thick and thin…and sometimes making do with chicken wire instead of those fancy backdrop thingees.

 

Which leads me to wonder how many marriages, particularly those of my generation,  will end only with the death of a spouse instead of divorce. How many couples will choose “til death do us part” instead of dissolution and lawyers and custody battles and alimony. Because it’s hard. It’s hard to stay in a marriage when you are having problems. It’s hard to “work on it” when your spouse seems indifferent, when you feel neglected or unappreciated or just too dang overwhelmed and frazzled with LIFE to really be willing to focus energy on a marriage you secretly wonder may have been a “mistake”.  Especially when all of your friends and others you respect seem to have their love lives all together…

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You don’t just marry your spouse…you marry their whole family.

Back in the day, when Hubby and I were doing marriage prep classes, I felt like I was mooning around in a hazy rose-colored fog of smugness.  He and I were so “compatible” (the little test they gave at one of the sessions said, apparently, that Hubby and I were an emotionally mature couple who had no unrealistic expectations of marriage.  Which, at the time was entirely true. ) We were both ready to be married and loved and respected each other.  Stupidly, at that time, I also thought (for that reason) we were much better matched and ready for a lifetime of conjugal bliss than the majority of the population.  That we would Never. Have. Problems.  (Well, at least not more concerning than someone leaving clothes on the floor or the toilet seat up.) That simply being “made for each other” as the trite little saying goes, would make us utterly and completely immune to the forces of the world that would try to tear us apart.  That we would be one of those marriages that people looked at, years from now, when we were little old people puttering around in Assisted Living, as “such a Perfect Marriage.”

A and J Lagowski c1950

If it isn’t work, you are not doing it right!

Oh, I realized that marriage was bound to be work.  But I didn’t realize to what magnitude that work would be.  No one really goes into the nitty gritty of how hard life as a spouse gets when you have to face things together you hoped you’d never have to deal with.  Job loss, serious illness, sick children, fights over how to best care for elderly parents.  I didn’t think seriously about what it was going to be like with four young children in the house screaming all day and then the violent, irrational Resentment I would feel when he got home from work and wanted to “relax”.  How it creeps up on you; you start looking at your spouse as that man who “did this to you”, instead of as this wonderful human being who God placed in your path to fulfill your vocation as wife and mother.  How you begin to blame each other for life’s annoyances.  How you begin to question, “would I be happier, really, if I could just leave?”  And, “Do I deserve better?”

Paul Wedding1 1936

For better or for worse.  But never for perfection.

Thank God that marriage is a sacrament.  Thank God for the vows that I exchanged with my Hubby, who really is a good, Godly, honorable man who loves me deeply.  But I honestly don’t believe love alone would have saved our marriage during its dark times.  I meant, very seriously, those words I said twelve years ago.

I promise to love you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.  I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Burvee Marriage 1890

“You want to do what?  Homestead in a barren wasteland?  Yes, please, I’ll follow you anywhere!”  Now that’s love.

The vows I made have gotten me through the tough times.  And the knowledge that Hubby and I am not in this marriage alone.  (God’s definitely got His work cut out for Him.)

Do you like all these wedding/couple pictures?  As I was putting this post together I was thinking how each one of these married couples, my antecedents, made a commitment for the long haul.  They did make it to “til death do us part.”  Did they have perfect marriages?  Did they have blissfully romantic unions chock full of whimsical serendipity and only marred by small inconveniences?  Hell no.  They knew hardship.  They knew loss.  They may have spent more time thinking about how unhappy they were in their marriages than anything else, I don’t know.  They may not have even liked each other very much.  Who knows, some of them (those I have known personally excluded of course) might have been miserable human beings who really weren’t balls of fun to be around.  But they stayed together.  Of course divorce wasn’t as viable an option back then, but maybe they too had some sense that marriage was a fundamental building block of society, that remaining married proved economically smarter, and children retained untold benefits from their parents being and remaining married.

 

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This photo was taken right before they realized they’d left my little brother at the gas station.

 

One day, in the midst of one of our nastier arguments, I made some snide comment to Hubby about something I felt he had done wrong.  I will never forget the look on his face when he said, very quietly, “I never said I was a perfect person.”  That statement gave me pause and I recognized that I had been expecting him to be.  Why is that?

Years ago, I read the novel Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty.  It was a great book that captured the way I think many of my generation think about marriage: as a fairy tale romance for those lucky souls who meet and marry their “soul mate”.  It comes down to the idea that if you find the “right one” marriage should be a breeze.  Oh, and you should always feel blissfully “in love” most of the time.  If that isn’t the case, you should probably get divorced so you can find someone else who might, this time, satisfy your every emotional need and desire.

In Prunty’s novel, the reader follows the protagonist, Tressa, who is newly married and carries an idealistic view of how marriage works, due, mainly, to her perception of her grandparents’ “perfect” marriage.  When her own marriage isn’t as great as she thinks it ought to be, Tressa wants out.  Little does she know, her grandparents’ marriage was not the magical union she thinks it was.  Tressa learns, as she reads her grandmother’s diary, that her grandfather was a “consolation prize” for her heartbroken grandmother, who refused to show affection for the husband she felt almost forced to marry.  In fact, it wasn’t until years later that love finally began to take root, nurtured by shared experiences and affection.  But even on his deathbed, Tressa’s grandmother struggled to tell her husband she loved him.  Even though she did.  Very much.  Not your typical “romantic” marriage, but it worked.  It was imperfect, but happy.

Why do we want to have that “perfect” union? Our heads are filled with visions of Hollywood romance, usually focusing on the wedding, but also filled with spouses who listen always, criticize never, and always, always know what we want (love means being a mind-reader).  We think we should perpetually feel a deep, sensual and exciting love for our spouse.  We constantly want to feel as though we are “in love”, like we did when we first met.  We don’t want to ever fight.  People who love each other shouldn’t disagree, right?  We also want someone who respects our individuality while remaining completely selfless when it comes to our desires.  Someone to have and to hold who never has a bad day and takes it out on us.  Someone who will uncomplainingly do all the household chores (most particularly the ones we don’t enjoy), go to work, and still have time and energy for long, intimate talks and walks on the beach.

Ha.  This person doesn’t exist. (Well, maybe on someone’s match.com profile) Because this kind of perfection is not attainable by human beings.  So, what do we do?  Give up on marriage as an institution because we can’t make it what we want, because we can’t expect it (and our spouses) to be our end-all, be-all?

No.  We need to realize that God adds that element to our marriages.  Our marriage can be “perfection” but only through God.  I will never be able to be the perfect wife.  Hubby will never be able to be the perfect husband.  But Christ is the Perfect Spouse.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  This includes a loving marriage.

With His help, our marriages can be Holy.  Our marriages can be purposeful.  Our marriages can be Perfect.

40

Musings on Memorial Day

We are a very veteran-heavy family.  In fact, in the course of three generations, every branch of the U.S.Armed Forces is represented save the Coast Guard.  Some of them volunteered, some were drafted, some had very high ideals about patriotism while some were merely doing what they were ordered.  At any rate, all of them were (and are – my little sister is still serving) ready to leave their familiar, ordered lives at the drop of a hat and – if necessary – fight, and possibly….die….in service to their country.  It infinitely humbles me, because the thought of being shipped off to

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My great-uncle trained here before shipping out to France in 1917, where he was blinded in action.

some foreign land to fight for my country scares the pants off of me.  I am a coward, I confess…I could not do it.  And that is why I am so glad, so grateful, that there are men and women out there who are willing to make that ultimate sacrifice for me and my family.

Luckily, my immediate family members who served in Iraq, Bosnia, Vietnam, and WWII all came home safe and sound with their bodies and minds intact (if not irreversibly changed by what they had seen).  They all knew fellow comrades who did not.

I’ve been doing lots of genealogy research lately, and the current quest is to locate, somewhere back in my family, a veteran of the Revolution.  I am really interested in becoming a member of Daughters of the American Revolution, and am convinced there is a member of the Colonial army back there if I can only find the right records.  Well, actually, I did find a great-great- twelve times back or something grandfather who helped the Colonial cause for one month!  Apparently he was like 76 or something and offered guiding service or let the troops stay on his property or something.  Not sure if that really counts as being a Revolutionary soldier, but it still sounds like he (and his son, an uncle not in my main line, who was a recorded soldier) was a Patriot.

It makes me think how easily those Patriots could have all been seen as Traitors if England had won the war.  Traitors are generally not treated super-kindly.  George Washington and all his buddies (including my grandpa a million times removed) could have easily been marched up to the gallows and today we would all be driving on the left.

I am grateful for the freedom I enjoy and for the soldiers who have died to protect it.  May this nation always be worthy of the sacrifices brave men and women have made for it!

 

 

{7QuickTakes} Belated weekly mishmash, Vol.5

My kids are watching The Good Dinosaur while I attempt to get something actual contributed to this blog!!  I haven’t abandoned it.  But y’all – May. Is. Crazy.  And I only have two in school.  But the programs, and the field trips, and the catching-up-on-everything-academic-because-the-school-year-is-almost-done-ing.  Plus, the kids are all antsy to be foot-loose and fancy-free and have all this pent-up “school’s out for the summer” anticipation and it is making me batty.  But…..I am sure I am not alone on this one.  Check out more moms (and dads!) who are probably going through this exact same thing at Kelly’s bloggin’ linkup.

ONE.

Hubby is back on shift work after a blessed hiatus.  The overnights are the worst.  The days (14 hours gone from home) are pretty bad also.  It is, for me, like being a single parent the days he is working.  He basically comes home, eats, and goes to bed.  Trying to focus on the positives…like, he does have a job.  This is a big plus.  And also, he does get to have 4 days off after his 4 days of work.  Which is nice, so we can do things together, like have a conversation.

TWO.

Two of my brothers came for a visit this week.  It is always nice to see family, particularly when we live so far away.  My youngest brother is moving back to the Midwest after his Active Duty stint in the military and my oldest younger (got it?) brother flew out to help him move back.  We are located conveniently half-way from California.  My kids get such a thrill seeing their uncles [aunts too]when they come visit.  Plus it helps that my brothers are really, really great with kids.  (PSA: Youngest brother is single, ladies – he will make a great dad someday!!!)

THREE.

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Current drama streaming obsession: PBS’s Poldark. (Find it on Amazon or DVD) What a great costume drama!  What a great love story!  What fabulous scenery!

mv5botq3nzm1mzq0ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjazntqxode-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_ Current comedy streaming obsession: Fox’s The Last Man on Earth.  (We watch it on Hulu).  I absolutely love the character of Carol (Kristen Schaal).  I think she is my favorite part of the whole show…Will Forte is good, too, but I love Carol.

FOUR.

We were at the local indoor-kids’ play gym (thanks to torrential rain and a Hubby sleeping off his night shift) yesterday and Evvie completely ‘imprinted’ on this other mom who was there with her twin boys.  It was somewhat amusing for me, because baby Evs can be pretty choosy about people she goes so far as to smile at.  But this fellow mom must have been magical to her, because she kept toddling around after her and her sons and would walk right up to her and look up at her all longingly.  The other mom, blessedly, did not find it annoying or creepy like I might have in her place, but just laughed and told Evvie, “You’re so cute!”  Then, my oldest, Junior, said (loud enough for everyone to hear), “I think Evvie wants a new mom!”  Yeah, I must be totally rocking this parenting thing…

FIVE.

I have 5,954,256 items on the floor in my office right now.  When I started writing this blog post, there were zero.  My children love me so much that they feel the need to be close to me at all times, particularly when my attention is not 100% devoted to them.  They take this opportunity to helpfully pull out every available book, crayon, office supply, piece of garbage, sticker, plastic baggie, craft item, and toss it, tornado-style on the floor of my workspace.  And Hubby thinks it would be a “breeze” for me to work from home!  Well, maybe, but at the end of the workweek the house would need to be condemned, pretty sure.

SIX.

Been seeing the chiropractor for my shoulder for a few weeks now.  It is helping, but slowly.  I find it is less painful (surprisingly) when I am well-hydrated.  And I am awful about drinking water.  I was a water-drinking champ when I was in college, or working, or pregnant.  But now that I am none of those things I find it difficult to get the requisite ounces in every day.  My main issue is that I fill a glass or bottle with water but through the course of the day, I am running all over the house and/or the car and I forget where I’ve left my water.  I think I just need to fill my Camelbak backpack and wear that all day so I don’t lose my water.  Where’s my Water? is one of the kiddo’s favorite games.  I should have invented it.

SEVEN.

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French fries?  They put me right to sleep.

 

That’s all folks, have a great week!