Daddy plays. Mommy cries.

Toddlers have an honest way of pointing out stuff. My two-year-old daughter is no exception. Over the last year while her language skills have developed leaps and bounds, she’s observed and commented on some important differences between mommy and daddy.

“Mommy boobs!” cracked me up. “Daddy face rough. Ouchy!” was funny too. But when Chloe sympathetically patted me on the shoulder with her tiny hand and said, “Daddy plays. Mommy cries. It’s OK, mommy. Feel better mommy.” I knew it was time to face the facts — my depression was back.

After 17 years of lightness and freedom from The Sads, that heavy feeling from 1997 was weighing me down again. Back then my depression was situational — dealing with the emotional bruises from an abusive relationship ain’t easy. I learned a lot about my strength back then.

Today my depression is a lot different, which is probably why it took me over a year to see the shadow creeping. And creep it did. The pressures of parenting, relationships, careers, and hitting midlife all kind of collided at once and left me wondering why normal change had become a crippling constant.

Everyday activities became impossible. Getting out of bed to shower was exhausting. Brushing my teeth required me to squeeze toothpaste onto that thing called a toothbrush — forget it. Making dinner meant I needed groceries, and leaving the house in the pyjamas I’d lived in for the last three weeks seemed uncouth. I hated being uncouth. So I berated myself for my uncouthness.

Sitting on the floor curled up beside the sofa for nearly eight hours was some serious physical punishment I couldn’t feel from the loudness of the negative self-talk paralyzing my brain. I tried to get off the floor to unload the dishwasher that day, but the idea of standing up, walking five steps into the kitchen, and opening the door latch seemed a mountain too high to climb. Depression mocked my mountain of dishes, so I added this failing to my uncouth list. These adventures in depression are pretty common, and commonly unpretty.

It’s true, the inner voice track of depression is a bit of a bitch. It likes to remind the host of their perceived failures, flaws, and imperfections. Repeat. Now repeat again. The truth is depression lies. A depressed person’s perception isn’t always reality and reality isn’t always a mountain. Also, my reality was I really needed a shower. Getting off the floor to remove my depression armour — my PJs of unimaginable uncouthness — took hours.

Standing naked in the shower and not feeling the warm water wash away the caked streaks of salty tears from my face felt like something. It felt like I needed help.

I had fallen deep into The Pit and I was immobilized in the darkness by The Sads. Alone. I’d add clumsy to my list of failings but I didn’t see the hole in the ground when I tripped. Stupid depression. Stupid me for falling. Stupid aloneness.

“Daddy plays. Mommy cries.” were the words that haunted me in my dark chasm. My little girl wanted to dance and jump and play with me. My husband wanted to see me smile. My friends wanted me back — they missed my caring, they missed my humour. Anyone who’s been in my orbit for longer than a minute knows I love to laugh. I’m generally an upbeat and positive person, always ready for a fun challenge. The uncouth floor-sitting sloth who couldn’t rise up to the height of her sofa used to be an Ironman triathlon athlete, an All Star soccer player, and a competitive swimmer who despite being a fish out of water, became a capable cyclist known for racing up mountains across British Columbia. Depression changed that. I desperately wanted to be me again. I also wanted to write.

The mental fog of depression did a wicked job of killing my writing voice. Not being able to open my laptop or compose a simple sentence was incredibly frustrating and painful. After doing time in The Pit with zero outlets, it’s no surprise I had run out of power. I needed to recharge. OK, I needed a brand new battery.

So I looked up from the bottom of The Pit, I told The Sads to suck it, and I raised my hand up. I reached high. I asked for help.

Thinking you’re alone and actually being alone are two very different things. My friends proved this to me. They rallied quickly and lifted my raised hand. My husband’s strength and unwavering belief in me got me to a place where help was possible.

That was then, today is now. I’m feeling better, almost Squawky again, but this sort of thing takes time. My anxiety is gone, the fog is lifting, and my depression is easing. Regular doctor’s visits and a tiny pill I call The Meds are helping to close The Pit and brighten The Sads. I’ve never been one for mental medication, but I’ve never denied treatment for any physical ailment that pained me. There’s no award for suffering. I’ve had enough.

If you’ve emailed, tweeted, or facebooked me looking for a reply, this is why I haven’t responded. I haven’t written a fun post in months, mostly because depression fails on the Fun’O’Meter and I’ve never been good with inauthenticity. I’ve transcribed interviews with amazing authors and I haven’t been able to review their books. I’ve written partial posts only to abandon the story due to crippling self-doubt and anxiety. I’ve tried so hard, but I’m sorry — I had to disappear to get better.

If you’re reading this post from the bottom of your own Pit and can’t remember the last time you’ve smiled, please know you’re not alone. Please do yourself a solid and raise your hand up. Reach high. Ask the people in your orbit for help. Help is available, you just need to be brave enough to ask.

I’m no expert on brain chemistry, pits, sads, or uncouthness, so I’ll list a few depression resources below. I’m also sharing several personal stories written by prominent bloggers. I’m not sure why so many bloggers have experienced depression, but I suspect the illness transcends career paths, and bloggers are just a lot more comfortable with the personal.

girl swing

Now excuse me while I leave the internet for a bit to enjoy the sunshine outside. There’s a beaming two-year-old girl wishing to hold my hand and jump and play at the park. I think we’ll start our little adventure on the swings, just so we can fly high into the bright blue sky.

Love,
Kerry

Personal Stories:

Resources:

Hugs.

Your two cents:

  1. Hailey June 7th, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am glad you have found something to help you. May you have more sunny days then rainy ones.

  2. Gerard June 7th, 2014

    Thank you for writing as well about this as you do about money.

    I wonder if good writers/bloggers are prone to depression because writing well requires stronger perception or sensitivity (often to bad things) than many of the rest of us have. There’s been some interesting talk recently about how many driving figures of the early feminist and civil rights movements suffered from various mental illnesses. It’s about acutely seeing what’s wrong and coming up with fixes. Then it becomes depression when Seeing What’s Wrong is all you have…

  3. sues June 7th, 2014

    Kerry,

    Please know you have been missed. Glad to hear you are starting to feel like yourself again.

    Kudos for speaking up about such a widespread problem. I’m sure you have helped many with this post.

    I like many others wish you all the best and am awaiting your next “squawky”post!!

  4. My Own Advisor June 8th, 2014

    Wow…one helluva post Kerry.

    “Anyone who’s been in my orbit for longer than a minute knows I love to laugh.” That was definitely my first observation 🙂

    Courageous and brave of you to 1) write this and 2) reach out and ask for help. Thank you for sharing this post and being so open about something that no doubt affects many of us.

    Best wishes Kerry,
    Mark

  5. Lynne June 12th, 2014

    First time commenter. Thank you for your words. For me, depression comes on like someone dimming the lights so slowly as to be virtually imperceptible. Then suddenly I have a moment of clarity and realize I am sitting completely in the dark. And ask for help, hard as that is for high achievers who usually look after others. Good luck in your journey back to the light.

  6. Sprocket June 16th, 2014

    Hi Kerry,

    First of all, a huge hug to you. I love your writing, but more than that, I love you, even though I don’t know you, I do in a way. Because you sound so much like me, and I love me now. I don’t always, but right now I do.
    The only things that have worked for me to truly wind myself out of my labyrinth of hell are:
    a) exercise. You sound like a “hamster” to me – I’m one too. High performing athletes don’t just stop because a job comes along, a child comes along, a relationship comes along, whatever. A hamster needs to run on its wheel, a horse needs to run in its field. It’s who you are – and if you’ve spent sizable chunks of your lifetime training your body to expect exercise, you can’t turn around and tell it no, I’m too busy now. Bodies are not minds, despite the fact they are very much connected, and the hole you’re experiencing is proof of that. You have a lively mind, a lively body, and a lively spirit – they need balance, like a 3 legged stool. Shave one down and you start to sink. Take a leg away and you’ll probably tip over. You can build up the missing leg again – one molecule at a time, if necessary. And it doesn’t need to be higher still – strive for balance. Clara Hughes, the Olympic cyclist and speed skater, can shed much more light on this.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/clara-hughes-pays-visit-to-her-former-winnipeg-high-school-1.2677060

    b) talk and write. You already are doing this. Keep doing it! Accept every little bit that comes out and listen to it. Ask yourself to hear yourself – who do you sound like? Trust the picture in your mind. And love that picture, no matter how unsightly it is to the you that’s judging you. In its own backwards way, it’s leading you out of the hole. Because it’s you pleading with yourself to change that picture to anything you want.
    Astrologer Rob Brezny writes: “The whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings”. Look carefully around you – it’s true. Your daughter is one of the best examples – you listened! – but is only the start. Truth is, you’re her blessing too.
    http://www.freewillastrology.com/

  7. Maria July 18th, 2014

    Wow! What a great article. So honest and inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure it will help a lot of people (like me).
    Blessings.

  8. Topaz July 19th, 2014

    AWESOME! Thank you, and the many commenters, for this beautiful exchange of thoughts!

    I found your blog in search of delicious brown bag popcorn (my fave) … then I kept seeing more and more interesting posts that I could not stop reading – THEN, THIS amazing post!

    Three weeks ago I hit the lowest low (emotionally) that I felt I possibly could. Then came along a naturopathic expert that got me back on track! Hormonal balance via herbs – IMO – is the perfect way for the body, mind and soul to reconnect in this over saturated world of media. I tried conventional meds but the side effects, etc. were just as bad as the symptoms they were suppressing.

    Unplug, relax and breathe. Enjoy the silence, or the sounds, knowing that you are an integral part, and can trust, life.

  9. Emily August 29th, 2014

    Thanks for sharing. I needed that.

  10. TwoYellowDogs.Terri August 30th, 2014

    Thanks for being brave enough to write and post this. You are a great writer. I feel your pain in your words, but mostly I hear your determination to move past the SADS. I’ve been struggling for 2 years with my sads. Sadly, I don’t feel my family members understand and my husband does not understand and tires of my struggle, I suppose. So, it’s taken 2 years to sort out the pieces and let go, let go, let go (of so many things) and keep fighting the negative-self-talk-crappo. Six steps forward, 2 steps back; two steps forward, 3 back. Forward. Let go of the ick. I’ve done this on my own (too proud to reach the hand up for help, too afraid of rejection (again)). And it is taking too long, and I’ve missed out on so much good parts of life. Pretty determined to not miss out on much more. Good for you for finding the help that was right for you. Thank you for sharing your words…

  11. TwoYellowDogs.Terri August 30th, 2014

    @Sprocket
    Right on. Thanks for taking time to share that. I two feel main keys to get rid of the SADS are exercise and writing.
    1. I too was always active/athletic. Job, surgeries, body pain stopped me from my love of exercise. Depression crept in. I KNOW exercise is/will be a big key for me–my brain misses the endorphin’s.
    2. My family has shut me out–I guess tired of listening to me talk–causing my downward spiral to be pretty deep into the pit. So, I pulled farther into my shell. Aloneness. Writing is part of my path to move forward. Even though my cure/solution to depression has evolved to be on-my-own to get past SADS (I guess I raised my hand but others either just didn’t understand, didn’t know what to do, or were just too busy with their own issues), I feel much stronger when I put words to paper. Part of “letting go” of negative. And since I’ve lost my willingness to try and talk (no one listening) I’ve turned to words on paper. It still is Alone, but, it’s ok. I’m not so bad. I’m pretty insightful. I’m (again) turning into my own best friend.

  12. Aceling December 8th, 2014

    A beautiful day here in Toronto; the sun shining out there. Going for a swim. A bit of exercise helps fill my head with some positive stuff as I don’t have room for the negative. Yes, and perhaps some laundry and cooking. I’m on holidays this week, and have high hopes of accomplishing things on my “to-do” list. One step at a time. Oh yes, whatever supplements or meds required, and prayer time. I’ve tried doing it alone, and it’s not the place for me when the going gets really rough. I remind myself that someone else’s rejection is their own opinion and there is someone else who will listen, even if it’s a professional… who gets paid to do so. I just need to get it out there. Sorry to say I’m not great on writing but it too, is a wonderful tool! For those who suffer with SADS, full spectrum lighting is also a great tool; about $30 per light bulb, depending where you get them. Be well, everyone!

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