A Determined Walk Toward Slow Hope: An Update on Depression

This is not a real post. I am far, far too giddy and drunk on I Am Responsible for ZERO Kids Right Now to write a real post.

But it is an update of sorts. An update on depression in disguise. And anxiety. And finding a way out.

An encouragement, hopefully. And a determined walk toward slow hope.

Because, you see, Greg and I are away. Away away. From home. On purpose. For 40ish hours, we’re away, and I can go potty whenever I want. What’s more, I bet Greg isn’t going to lay on the floor outside the bathroom and stick his fingers under the door and say, “MomMomMomMomMommyMom” or ask “ARE YOU DONE YET?” or holler “MY BROTHER JUST PUNCHED ME IN THE PENIS.” He probably won’t yell that even once. And I’m not sure I can adequately express the kind of jaw-dropping, drool-inducing, mind-blowing bliss that comes from that knowledge.

And can I just say? The fact that I’m happy about this trip? The fact that I’m looking forward to being away from home? The fact that I think I may actually enjoy myself? That’s a miracle right there. A medical marvel. Because I did not feel like this a few months ago. Not even a little. Anxiety had backed me up against the wall with a hand around my throat and it did not let up until my doctor told me it was Depression in Disguise and I started the long road toward health. Again.

The road to mental health is always long, and I just hate that. I step back on the road and I want a supersonic jet or a bullet train or a Formula One race car to pull alongside and offer me a ride. I want to bypass the journey and arrive at the Perfect Mental Health destination NOW. But nooooo. It’s never like that. Never ever. I step back on the road to mental health in my scuffed tennis shoes with my underused muscles and the only way forward is one foot in front of the other in front of the other in front of the other. And onward to infinity.

Sometimes it looks like no progress at all. Especially with the inevitable medication changes and being aware of my feelings and having to stay engaged in the process. Blerg. But then one day, maybe months and months after finding the road again, I look up and realize I’ve walked or jogged or crawled quite a way. I realize that, while I can’t see my destination, I also can’t see where I started. I realize I’m headed out on a brief trip with my husband and I’m not just going through the motions. Not dreading being away. Maybe I’m even eager to go.

Crazy.

Or maybe Not Crazy, to use the technical medical term.

Now, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine getting ready for this trip.

I had to do certain things.

Like update our will.

And clean.

And I’m never sure which of those things I hate worse.

My parents are staying with the kids while we’re away, so we picked up just enough this weekend to upgrade our house from the Pit of Everlasting Despair to I’m So, So Sorry You Have to Stay Here. I’d feel worse about all the beds that are unmade and towels that are frayed and children who are unbathed except the house looks approximately 20,000 times better than the time I was pregnant with twins and my water broke prematurely and we bolted from the house in the middle of the night leaving my in-laws to babysit preschoolers and sop up amniotic fluid. So, you know; the house isn’t that bad. It’s all about perspective, right?

The truth is, I’ve tried 3 different combinations of medications since starting treatment again in May, and I’m not exactly the palm-to-the-forehead, BE-HEALED kind of better. I sent a message to my brother and sister-in-law last week titled “We’ll Be Gone Next Week… MAYBE FOREVER” and I opened with “In light of our upcoming trip (read: imminent deaths), I need to clarify some things about our will.” So, you know; Hello, Anxiety, my old friend. But when we hugged and kissed our kids good-bye, I didn’t experience soul-crushing sorrow, either. Or dread. Or defeat. I would say, in fact, I could breathe. So Hello, Progress. 

I may not be out of the dark yet. I may not be standing in full sunshine. But the moon has risen in the dark, and it’s full, and it’s bright, and I can imagine the sunlight on the horizon. For now, that’s enough.

133042_543368345688698_445397222_o (1)

A determined walk toward slow hope.

And enough.

……….

P.S. I guess this turned into a real post after all. Shows what I know.

P.P.S. I’m not too proud to ask for your prayers or good wishes for this time away. For rest for a weary mama. For air to breathe. xoxo

Image by Roger Hutchison used with permission:
you can find out more about Roger’s art at The Painting Table.

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
32 comments
  1. Thank you for this! It’s been so refreshing to read through your posts! This one really hit home with me. I had my fifth child 7 months ago, and I’m still trying to adjust. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my kids! But DANG! It’s a lot of work! I wouldn’t be able to do it without my 12 year-old helping me! I’m also bipolar and I’ve been battling depression for years now. I wad was doing pretty good up until I got pregnant with my last baby. That kinda changed everything. I went WAY off the deep end. I’m on the path to recovery now, though, because of my amazing husband. But like you said, I just want to be DONE! Thanks for your insight! Keep posting! It’s so very helpful to know I’m not alone in my journey!! 🙂

  2. I have traveled all along and back and forth on the path to mental health wellness. Sometimes I it think it is just a never ending circle, but then I see places I have grown since I passed around that same corner last time and I know I am slowly reaching a place of recovery. You can too. Med management sucks a lot but I have faith that you can do it.

  3. Thank you, Beth, so very much, for sharing your journey through depression and anxiety. I have wanted to share, wanted to write, but haven’t been brave enough to do it. yet. You describe so vividly exactly what I’ve been going through and how different things (like travel, and cleaning house!) make me anxious or overwhelmed. And I love the comments already made here…it’s really nice to know that I am not the only one out there dealing with this! Cause it really does feel that way at times. I love your blog…thanks for writing and sharing and being brave.

  4. Just said a prayer for you. Thank you for your honest, open heart. I’ve always loved that about you. {{hug}}

  5. Wow Beth . . . so well put. I will pray for you. Keep writing. We need your perspective.

  6. Praying that you are enjoying time to yourself and alone with your husband. I imagine those things don’t happen often with 5 kids!

  7. So glad you are able to enjoy traveling again. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with others.

  8. Thank you so much for talking. Talking about depression. Because it seems like most people want to keep it hidden. But I need to know that there are other people suffering like me, and they can make it through. And by golly, if they can fight, I can try. I’ve got to try.

  9. My word, Beth, I just love you! Your posts are brilliant – so heart-warming and inspiring, and always funny, whatever the topic – you’re a total joy to read. Praying you are blessed by this time away! Big love xxx

  10. I feel you, I do.

  11. Beth, you always give me comfort in knowing I’m not alone in the frustrations of my world! It’s so nice to know that the kid naggings are universal, along with the “I can’t believe I let it get this far”s in the home! Even the thoughts of “anxiety is depression??” were nice to take a look at. Thanks for being real and being a living example of constantly striving for Christ. It’s seen. 🙂

  12. You are such an amazing writer. Thank you for sharing your heart–even the parts that are hard to show. Because each time we see someone’s real heart, we feel a little less alone.

    Prayers for a restful time away for a well-deserving mama. I am counting my blessings that we have connected, friend.

  13. Funny story: I really enjoy long slow back roads of Kansas car rides. For those not familiar, it’s kind of like fence post, fence post, fence post, COWS, fence post, fence post, fence post, fence post….. oh look, a cloud shaped like a cow.

    But that long slow road to mental health? Despise with a fiery passion.

  14. It is posts like these that will send stigma packing. So awesome you can find the words and also find the time to nurture yourself!

    I wish my daughter had some words for her feelings. She is suffering from terrible anxiety and depression and is not even 18 years old. She has been a master at disguise. Just speaking about her feelings is torture to her, so how is she supposed to get better if she doesn’t speak her truth?

    And that leads me to a burning question. Seriously. Does truth set one free? I always thought it did. I had a friend challenge me on that, though. I do need to sit with her and take some time to understand what she meant. She has suffered domestic abuse. She raised an adopted daughter who had Reactive Adjustment Disorder and as soon as she was 18 she left home and has never attempted to come back. She can’t. She was so badly neglected emotionally and physically as a baby up through age 4 that she cannot bond with another human being. Never. It is the worst case. Lying, cheating, stealing, cruelty to animals, starting fires, destructive… So when my friend states that the truth does not set you free, I listen. She adopted siblings. The younger sibling did not have RAD but when he was 18 he was shot trying to defend a friend in an alley fight. So all of her kids are gone. She’ll have no grand kids. She poured her heart and soul into parenting. She left the abusive husband. She married a great man and is raising over 200 animals on a small farm. She is a survivor. When she says the truth does not necessarily set you free I do wonder what that means. I don’t know if this is appropriate to say on thi post. What you wrote was so stimulating and thought provoking. I am praying for you. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your truths. This kind of thing can be live saving.

    1. I think it depends. And I think freedom is something you have to fight for repeatedly.

      My thoughts typically are more pictures than words. So sometimes I have a hard time articulating them. Especially if I haven’t been trying to articulate anything for some time. So one day in an articulate moment I say to myself “When I am depressed, I do not feel worthless, I just feel unloved.” AHA! There’s the lie I was believing.

      The Truth is that I am loved, very much so, in many ways. In those moments that I remember that, I am indeed set free. But it’s elusive. I know I am loved but I don’t FEEL it. I get distracted, overwhelmed, bogged down, whatever, and I forget. I get trapped. I lose that freedom.

      I can’t speak for your friend. But for me, truth works. Keeping a hold of it all day every day is another matter entirely.

    2. I’ve been lurking here a while and never felt the desire to comment until now.

      Please know that truth WILL set us free. We all have misconceptions about ourselves, others, and the world around us, and those misconceptions are what bind us. For some of us, seeing and shrugging off those bonds is fairly easy.

      For some of us, though … for some of us, we have to chew through Every. Single. Fiber. of those bonds. Each fiber that snaps is a little bit of freedom, a little bit of truth. It takes a long time. It’s exhausting. We get tired and frustrated, and we stop. We cry, we withdraw. But eventually we start chewing again. And eventually, we will get through to all the bits of truth and be free.

      But we have to be careful not to confuse “truth will set us free” with “truth will make us happy.” They aren’t the same thing at all. Truth leads to freedom, and freedom opens the door to happiness.

      For example, your friend’s son is dead. That is a cold, hard, ugly truth that is never going to make anyone happy. But accepting that truth means no misconception; she won’t be waiting for him to call, hoping he’ll walk in the door. She isn’t bound by that misconception. Because she isn’t bound that way, she also has the freedom to acknowledge that her son was a warm, generous, loving person who literally gave his life to protect someone else. That’s an amazing truth, because it means she did something right in raising him, and she is not a hopeless failure. If she’s not hopeless, then there is hope for her.

      And another example. Your friend out of an abusive relationship. That means she gave up the misconception that the relationship was good for her. That let her acknowledge that there was something better. That she was worthy of better. That there was hope for her. And she went for it. She found Mr. Perfect-For-Her, and that has given her happiness.

      The key here is that hope is what it’s all about. Hope is what makes us get back to chewing on those blasted bonds, fighting for each bit of freedom, each bit of truth. And those truths beget more hope, hope for happiness, hope for the ability to get to happy.

      So, you see, truth will set us free. It takes work on our part, sometimes a lot of work. But truth gives us the opportunity to hope, even to hope for happiness. It is imperative that we grab every little opportunity for hope and happiness. It’s the only way we’ll get through.

      Warm thoughts to you, T.Bird. I have hope for you.

  15. You know, I once actually saw a book entitled ‘Anxiety and Depression for Dummies’…

    Seriously.

  16. I have to thank Roger Hutchison for posting this. I would not otherwise have had the pleasure of reading your blogs.
    My oldest daughter is a psychiatrist and once this techno-challenged mom figures out how to do it, I will send this to her. You know, moms always think we should share great things when we find them and this is definitely one.

  17. Honesty begets honesty. Thank you so much for that.

    Enjoy your vacation and (oh, bliss! oh, joy! oh the heavenly wonder of it all!) being able to pee in peace and quiet! Yay!!

  18. Inner Peace and ((hugs)) beautiful lady.

    Have an amazing spirit refilling time.

    🙂

  19. I’ve walked that path. It is hard, it is painful, and it is almost impossible to explain– and just when I think that I have reached the destination of balance, I find myself with a racing heart, can’t breath, and desire to spend the rest of my life in my bed. Today I am good– and I am thankful for it (but if I am not tomorrow, I hope I’ll forgive myself so I can rest and recover, and start down the hard road again).
    I know I am loved by people who might not get it but love me enough to try to understand, and so are you (I know you are cause I love you and I just met you 🙂 –)

  20. Thank you, thank you. I am starting my own journey down the mental health path just this week after realizing that sobbing uncontrollably and making myself physically ill over the weekend was a sign all is not well with me. Good luck in your journey and although it will still take time may the rest of the trip not last long!

  21. Prayers and best wishes for a peaceful, restful trip. And thank you again for continuing to share your journey…you touch many.

  22. Lord, I pray for Beth’s time away from home. Restore to her the joy that she needs and desires. Refresh her body and spirit and reconnect her to her husband. We ask that she would sense Your presence and come back with a changed heart. Thank you, Lord – we are grateful for your miracles.

  23. Cleaning. Cleaning is always worse when both are necessitated by the same event. It’s never done, even for a little while. Everyone sees it, and has an opinion on how you did. And you feel guilty about calling in professional help, even when warranted.

    Enjoy your trip. Stop at the first rest stop you get to. Use bathroom alone. Just because you can. 🙂

  24. Ha ha ha – I appreciate very much the upgrading of the house ‘from the Pit of Everlasting Despair to I’m So, So Sorry You Have to Stay Here’. This rings true every time we have visitors (anxiety? why not wash the front door just to be on the safe side?)

    I’m on the same journey this year of depression and anxiety coupled with frustration at the length of time involved in the healing process. Also this weekend my Amazing Husband and I are going away on a journey to celebrate 10 years of marriage – without the Amazing but Always Present Children. Wahoo! I feel your excitement 🙂 and I pray a wonderful trip for you both.

    Meanwhile the Much Too Kind In-laws will be taking the strain at ours. I will not be washing any doors this time, but lets hope the bedroom gets prepared and the house is Erring on the Side of Hygienic. For all our sakes.

    1. The amazing but always present children. Love it.

  25. You sound like me. Especially about your linked depression post. That really hit home with me. I’m not sad either. My life is good, I’m over the things that used to make me sad. But I’m short-fused, overwhelmed and exhausted. Not even overwhelmed about the things that should overwhelm me. Yesterday I had the day to myself to catch up on school work I was behind on (three classes, two kids, what was I thinking?!) even then that didn’t stress me out. Taking both kids to the grocery store after they came home though? Yeah that did me in. Talk about mommy guilt. Glad to have found your blog. Sounds like we have a lot in common!

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