I Hit a Wall on Thursday Before Dawn: An Honest Post About Mental Illness, Steps to Take When You’re Down and Out, and What It’s Like to Call a Crisis Hotline

{CW: Depression, Mental Illness, Suicide Ideation}

I want to write about my kid’s engagement party, how to throw one that’s pretty and cheap, and how to show up for each other and celebrate well. The post is drafted. Finished but for a final read. But it’s going to have to wait, because I’m writing this instead.

I want to write about the dog we found… inside our car… because that’s a normal place to find a dog you’ve never met before. I have pics and a story about being lost and found, and starting over and redemption, and somehow finding our way home. But I’m writing this instead.

I want to write about my bedroom and why it’s in the living room now and what it’s like to create a home that’s weird but works. But I’m writing this instead.

Frankly, I’d rather write about almost anything else. Anything but mental health and illness and what it’s like to navigate this on a daily, weekly, sometimes hourly basis, to infinity and beyond. 

But here we are. And I’m going to be very transparent with you, even though I don’t like it much right now. Honesty in this case means profound vulnerability, and I feel like I’m cracking my own chest and exposing the viscera to you; my heart, yes, but also my gut and the dark ball of anxiety and unease that lives under my stomach at the base of my lungs and expands sometimes, stealing air to feed itself, and growing tendrils that crawl like cancer through the rest of my body until it reaches the tips of my clammy fingers and and the electric edges of my brain, fighting for control of the ship. It’s an extra organ, really, and I call it the Borg because it insists resistance is futile. Sometimes it consumes me whole such that my breathing becomes shallow, and my bones feel brittle, and my jaw chatters, and it’s all I can do to keep sucking air in and out and in and out and in and out.

I hit a wall last week, on Thursday, before dawn. 

Sometimes I can see the walls coming. Sometimes I have enough time to put on the brakes and slow the speed of my life to lessen the impact of another bout of depression. Sometimes I can sense the natural disaster upon me, and I can carve out some quiet moments to rest my brain. Queue up some mindless, fluffy novels to read. Lay on my couch in the most slovenly manner possible and reduce my schedule to the bare minimum of keeping cereal in the cupboard for the children and refilling my medications so I don’t run out. Those are the days when I know I can handle this thing. When I congratulate myself for being aware and paying attention. When I know resistance is NOT futile. When I’m grateful for years of learning hard lessons like It’s OK to Rest, and Everyone is Worthy of Infinite Love Exactly As They Already Are… Even Me. 

But sometimes I don’t see the walls coming. Sometimes, I crash into them at full speed. Sometimes, I push myself past my limit, except I didn’t know the limit was there until I see it in my rear view mirror. Of course, this isn’t something that’s limited to depression; all of us who are Human do this on occasion. We don’t know how much we were counting on rest until it doesn’t arrive. We don’t know how desperately we needed our partner to be home on time because we Cannot Parent Alone for One Minute Longer. We don’t know when the Grief Train will come barreling down the track and smash us into oblivion. We don’t know we’ve committed to Too Many Activities and Too Many Committees and Too Many Projects until we’re overwhelmed and drowning in them. And also, for those of us who experience depression, we don’t know when the Borg that is Depression will shake off its slumber and raise its hackles and growl its aggression and go to war with our insides. 

I hit a wall last week, on Thursday, before dawn. I’d scheduled breathing room into my calendar for the whole week prior, but, well, my planned rest didn’t happen for reasons I don’t regret. Instead, I sped at high velocity toward my college kid in a spontaneous act of love and support; I’d do it again, but the truth is there’s a limit to my brain capacity and, when I blow past it, there are consequences.

I hit a wall last week, on Thursday, before dawn. I’d hoped rest following my trip would be enough to stave off a crash. I’d hoped my limits were farther down the path than the length of the journey I took. I’d hoped to arrive home Wednesday evening, put myself to bed, sleep well and long, and awake refreshed… or at least awake in tact and not splattered all over the wall. But the wall, I’ve found, has its own unpredictable trajectory, and so, instead, I arrived home Wednesday evening, put myself to bed, and started to shake. By early Thursday morning, I thought I might just shatter. Not figuratively. I wondered if it was possible to actually shudder to pieces like Jenga in an earthquake. I wondered if Greg would wake up next to a large pile of small Beth bits because I broke like porcelain in the night.

I hit a wall last week, on Thursday, before dawn. I didn’t see it coming. But I knew it when it arrived which is a strange blessing. I was blindsided, yes, but I knew by what which is far better than the times Depression came in disguise. I’ll take being just broken over being broken and bewildered any day. And Thursday, before dawn, I did. I accepted Broken as my current state of being — Depression had arrived with a vengeance — and I reminded myself of the next steps which are:

1. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind. Say, “there, there, Sweet Bunny” and pet your hair and give yourself a figurative kiss on the forehead. Treat yourself like you would any sick innocent. You deserve only compassion right now. Be a good friend to yourself. 
2. Understand that being still and unable to function is Really, Really Hard, Important Work. GOOD JOB, you! Your brain is trying to reboot. It has all hands on deck for Emergency Response, so if the other stuff in your body and mind is a little whacky, FINE. Your brain will deal with the jitters later. It will be able to perform tasks again eventually. It will need assistance (see #4), but just because you appear to be doing nothing does not mean you are doing nothing; it just means it’s all happening behind the scenes and you should give yourself a freaking break and also a pat on the back and probably a cookie. 
3. Be vigilant looking for the lies — that you’re bad, that you’re weak, that life is too hard, that you’re a burden, that you ought to apologize for being unwell, and that this will never end. Lies, every one. They enter unannounced and make themselves at home, and you are allowed to send them on their way. “I see you, Lies. I note your presence. Now SCOOT.” And when you need help removing them from the premises…
4. Get help. A wellness check at the doctor’s office. An appointment with a therapist. A call to a hotline. A text to a prepared, capable friend (preferably one who has worked out a Plan with you in advance so they know What Steps to help you take…. but if you don’t have a Plan, still text a calm, steady friend — the kind who will listen and help with the “there, there, Sweet Bunny”ing but who also will not put up with your bullshit, will take charge if needed, and will get you to the help if you can’t get yourself there.) A trip to the ER if necessary. An admittance to a psych ward. An outpatient program. Anything other than nothing.
5. Keep getting help. <— This is the hardest, but probably the most important one.

I hit a wall last week, on Thursday, before dawn, and I tried to take the next steps — at least Steps #1 (Be Gentle) and #2 (You’re Doing Hard Work) — and I’m going to give myself an A+ even though my steps were wobbly and slow like trying to make my way wading through a murky, rocky stream; I was making progress, technically, but also stumbling and splashing and making a general, muddy mess and spraining my ankle and getting soaked to the skin. Steps #1 and #2 are harder than they look, and I hadn’t started on #3-5 yet, but I get an “A” for effort anyway because, in this game, effort is everything.

I hit a wall last week, on Thursday, before dawn, and I worked on Steps #1 and #2, but I don’t remember much of the rest of Thursday. I assume I fell asleep at some point. I made it to an IEP meeting for my kid. I wore a bra, I’m pretty sure, and maybe make-up. For the first time in 15 years, I forgot the IEP snacks. I smiled at teachers, though, and I said thank you because they’re doing impossible work and I try not to be an asshole. But also, my kid is a senior in high school with 2 elective credits left, so I mostly phoned it in. Her IEP this year probably says, “fuck it — she’s almost done.” I’ll sign it when I get my copy.

I hit a wall last week, on Thursday, before dawn, and by Friday, I was on a downward trend because taking steps toward health doesn’t always mean health arrives when I think it should. I was definitely sinking on Friday. Like being rolled at the bottom of a waterfall.

You know you’re out of air. You know you’re being crushed by a force stronger than you can stand for long. But you also know you may be pushed closer to the bottom before riding the current back to the surface. The problem is, you really have no idea how long it’s going to take to pop back up, and you recognize your life is on the line, but it’s hard to feel very powerful in that situation or capable of sussing out the difference between lies which will suck you down and the rescue line your people can toss you to help you up. You’re flailing down there, and it’s tricky to grab ahold of the correct pieces in the dark.

By Friday, I was, by turns, jittery, bone weary, anxious, angry, and numb. My brain buzzed like an electric razor on its lowest setting. I wanted to do nothing other than lay in bed and try to breathe, and, honestly, both of those felt like I was trying to summit a mountain without oxygen. And I was consumed with the idea… compelled?… to look up pills used in suicides. I wasn’t suicidal. I wasn’t making a plan. I wasn’t hoping I had any of the medications or thinking about where to source them. I just was fixated on learning what people use. Most of me felt very “meh” about it. Like, “What’s the big deal?” But, after I did what I’ve never done before and actually looked up the info, there was also an emergency red strobe light spinning in the back of my brain in sync with an overhead announcement that was all, “NUMBER 4, BETH. GET HELP. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK ARE YOU DOING, FRIEND? HELLLLLOOOO. EYES ON ME. THE TIME FOR HELP IS EITHER NOW OR BEFORE NOW. PICK ONE.” <— Step #3 Spotting the Lies. Looking up suicide drugs = alarming behavior, not “no biggie.” Lie spotted. Check.

By Friday, I knew I needed help. Or, at least, if I didn’t feel like I needed help because I felt mostly nothing, I intellectually understood my feelings didn’t matter; I objectively needed assistance. But getting help is hard, friends. It’s really, really ridiculously hard. The hardest. Because getting help requires two things I don’t have when I’m in the midst of depression: 1. Energy. 2. The ability to complete a task. And I will tell you, pushing past those barriers is overwhelming. Like being asked to rise from the dead. And to keep rising. Endurance and will aren’t enough; it always feels like asking for a miracle, too. For divine intervention. And I’m one of the lucky ones, because I have people. Humans who are mine. I can ask any one of them at any time to get help for me. To take over. To make the calls and stick with me until I’m on the upswing. But I don’t ask. Not ever. Not because I don’t trust them or don’t need them; only because I can’t muster the energy to use words, to explain what’s happening, to reassure them that I’m not dying, to answer questions, to provide information, and, because I love them, to assuage their fears and Big Feelings when I can’t even process my own. I have prepared, capable, calm friends who know the plan, and I never text them. Never. Which might make me a hypocrite. Or it just might make me a typical human who deals with depression. Who can say?

Still, by Friday, I knew I needed help. I’d already told Greg I was unwell, but Greg knows that means I’ll keep him updated and not to intervene except in the ways I ask for intervention. It’s too much pressure on our relationship to ask him to monitor my mental health all the time. It’s too consuming. And I’d end up fighting him for control because I am a delight all the time. I know some married people who step in this way for each other — and that is super awesome for them because this isn’t One Size Fits All mental health / marriage over here — but for us, I need Greg to be my partner, my co-conspirator, my lover, and my friend. I need him to step aside on the mental health monitoring front. I need both of us to believe I’ve got this. I need us both to be confident I’ll triumph over this thing. As many times as it takes. Again and again.

But did I mention that by Friday I needed help? I couldn’t muster the energy to involve my people. My doctor’s office doesn’t open until Monday. I wasn’t at risk of imminent harm (just, you know, the slow, mounting kind of harm which is way better as everyone knows), so the ER and psych ward options weren’t necessary. Which left me with a crisis hotline. 

Now, I want you to know, I immediately discarded the crisis hotline as a viable alternative, for several reasons: 1. I wasn’t in crisis. 2. Calling a crisis hotline is unnecessarily dramatic. 3. It’s a good option for other people but not for me because I have People and crisis hotlines are only for people without other choices. And 4. My brain wasn’t working properly (see also: depression) so I couldn’t see that my first three reasons were DUMB AS SHIT. Mostly it was the fourth reason.

And fortunately, that red strobe light with the disembodied voice clued me in. I mean, it wasn’t very good at being gentle or kind about it, but it managed to punt the Truth to the frontal cortex with a swift, “Oh for fuck’s sake, Beth. You are NOT TOO GOOD for a crisis hotline. Situations like this are LITERALLY WHY THEY EXIST.” And then the voice reminded me how annoyed I am by people who say they think counseling is a great idea but never, ever go themselves. There’s a disconnect between what they think is good for others and what they’re willing to accept for themselves. “It’s fantastic that resource is there. For other people. Who need it. Who are not me because I’m fine.” 🙄 (Seriously, Karen. YOU ARE NOT FINE. GO TO COUNSELING ALREADY.) 

 So, early Saturday morning, for the first time, I contacted the 24/7 Crisis Text Line* at 741741 and chatted with Luke. Who I kept calling Kevin inside my head. I was inordinately concerned I’d call him Kevin on the text string — like calling out the wrong boyfriend’s name in bed — and then… what? What did I think would happen? That Luke would suddenly realize I’m not right in the head? Psst… i think he was already on to me. But I managed NOT to call him Kevin on the text string, so I considered that a serious brain win under the circumstances. And you know what? Luke helped. 

He validated my concerns. He assured me I’m pretty normal. He reminded me of truths I already knew. Coping skills I already have. And gently led me toward next healthy steps to take. It was, to be honest, the hand-holding I needed without the added stress of worrying about his feelings or worrying I was traumatizing him like I would with one of my people. It was a turning point. And I’m grateful.

I’ve spent the last three days doing as little as possible. Running a few kid-related errands. Saying no to anything extraneous. Making myself nourishing food. Starting Season 9 of Shameless, FINALLY on Netflix. And trying to make sense of my jumble of brain. The good news is I’m on the upswing again. The bummer news is I know it’s a process and I’m not through the woods yet. It’s OK, though. One step at a time, right?

So, the truth is, I hit a wall last week, on Thursday, before dawn. And it’s been a little dark over here. But I think dawn might be on the way.

Either way, I’m waving in the dark, as always, friends, and waiting for the light. And the best news of all is, none of us waits alone.

With love,

 

 

 

* I could’ve called the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.TALK (8255)) but a) there was no suicide to prevent, b) I didn’t want to clog up the line in case someone who really needed it was calling, and c) I hate talking on the phone even when I’m at my healthiest. {{To be clear, a) calling the hotline even when there’s NOT an imminent suicide threat is still a good idea, b) it’s not clogging up the line because they’re literally there to prevent suicide and would rather get your brain help earlier in the process, and c) they do have a messaging option in addition to talking on the phone, but go back to the part where my brain wasn’t functioning well, and you see the dilemma.}}

P.S. I’m including screenshots of my texts with Not Kevin. I thought it might be helpful to see what it’s really like to contact a crisis line when you need help. ❤️ 

 

And, P.P.S. Did you know I run a small number of retreats each year? I do! One of my very, very favorite things to do is hang out with members of our incredible, worldwide community and offer rest and respite from our regular lives. I would LOVE to have you join me. (And who WOULDN’T want to hang out with me after this post about calling a crisis hotline? 😂 Amirite??)

Click here for general retreat information.

Or, if you want to head straight to the registration pages, you can register via my farm website, CAIRNS FARM:

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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.
59 comments
  1. Thank you for sharing this. I just put the crisis line number in my phone.

    I’m at the lowest point I’ve ever been right now. It’s been a tough year. In March I found out my Dad isn’t my bio dad, in April I lost my job, in May my cat died, in June I found out I have breast cancer. I have an adopted son with special needs similar to yours.

    I know my meds aren’t right and I’ve been forced to change antidepressants due to interactions with treatment of my breast cancer. My depression scares me more than the cancer.

    I know my brain is lying to me. I have no plans to hurt myself but I wouldn’t care if I didn’t wake up tomorrow. I know that thinking isn’t rational. I see my psychiatrist tomorrow and I’m not leaving until there is a plan and change in my meds. I’m trying to be gentle with myself because I know a med change won’t make me feel better right away.

    I’m not good at asking for help either. That crisis line might be something I can do by text. Thank you for sharing!!

    Waving back at you from the dark. Hopeful there is light soon for both of us.

    1. Oh, Kristine. That’s SO MUCH to deal with. I’m so sorry. What a horrible year.

      Sending you lots of love while we sit here in the dark together. ❤️

  2. Zoom out, we are here too. Pull whatever will, or strength to do things, or teeny zest to refresh from us, as we pull it from you. Although, I’m currently crying in the dark at 2:29am for my own reasons, best not to pull from me. #awkwardsuggestionicantfullfill.
    Love and gravitate to you and the Village here. Always helpful, always real… and Lord knows I need way more of that in my life.

    1. I’m sending love and hugs to 2:29am You. I know what it is to have nothing left to pull from. Zooming is always an important reminder — imagine the view of all the people like us if we could see our lights from space. I bet we’d light up the globe. Waving in the dark to you, Megan. ❤️

  3. Oh Beth, I’m so glad you called Luke/Kevin. I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to ‘burden’ family and friends. That’s a lie straight from the mouth of that royal bitch Depression herself (Maybe it’s a dude? In which case – the royal dickwad Depression himself). The lie that we are a burden. That no one can help us. That we must keep it from those who love us. All lies. Thank Sweet Jesus that Luke/Kevin knows this too. He’s a bona-fide ‘waver in the dark’, just like you. Except he waves a super-size flashlight – the heavy kind with D batteries. I’m so, so, sooooooo glad his light reached you Saturday morning. XOXO

  4. Sending you lots of love, and hugs, and pats on the head, and chocolate, and good whisky. And looking forward – for you – to your post about the morning you wake up feeling a little bit better, and then about the party and the dog in your car.

    1. Love back to you, Sara! I’m looking forward to spending time with you soon! ❤️

  5. Beth, saying you ROCK is not near enough to explain just how much your post means to me. Resonates. Yells YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You are the bravest, most honest person ever. And you lay it all out there. Even the hard things. It’s not easy, but it’s so helpful to so many. The ripple effects of your post will go beyond your wildest dreams.
    This is definitely sound wisdom. One time when my brain wasn’t working quite right, I had lunch with a friend, who I wasn’t even that close to. Somehow depression was brought up, and I casually mentioned being in a struggle. She looked me dead in the eye and said you know, my Mom struggled, and never got help. When she got older, and we started caring for her, I realized she had depression. I will always wonder, what would life had been like if she’d got help sooner. Don’t make your kids wonder that, ok?
    Life changing advice. I share that with your readers as it was just the kick in the pants I needed to get help. Counseling and medication made my life – well I’d say better, but the fact is, my life is more engaging by my brain with help. Without help I felt disconnected, like watching a play. And the lies when you can see that life should be great but somehow you’re just ‘meh’ – they can be overwhelming. Your list of 5 is SO. TRUE.
    Thank you for the screen shots of how helpful people are there. BIG THANKS! They are there FOR THIS REASON. Thank you for sharing.
    Waving from the dawn, as I wait with one arm outstretched for all of us to steady our step.

    1. That is so powerful-what would life have been like had help been obtained? It’s what ultimately motivated me enough to pick up the phone (my therapist does text though so I only had to do that once haha) and eventually went on meds, which initially I had said no to (I wasn’t that bad off, I told myself). Now my children are willing to work with a therapist, my husband is considering medication as well, and I know my doctor told me I had to do all this self-care for me but danggit my primary motivation was for them and I’m seeing how the years of struggle for me is now helping them and yeah. Worth it.

    2. Thank you for this, J. And for your arm outstretched. I forgot we don’t have to stumble through the water alone, either. ❤️

  6. I have suffered with and then learned to manage severe seasonal affective disorder since childhood. The diagnosis didn’t even exist when I was a child and it wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s before I saw the pattern. So I know what that descent into darkness feels like. I too have come to learn that if the word “suicide” even starts to come into my head that I’m on the descent.
    I know we are all different but…it’s fall and you live in Oregon. The days are shortening. With seasonal affective disorder the amount and intensity of light that reaches your eyes every day can have huge effects on the action of serotonin in your brain. Have you ever tried a light box? You can now get them from amazon for fairly cheap. You’d want to read about how to use them. They don’t need to be full spectrum but you do need to get enough lumens to reach your eyes for 30-60min. And you need to do that in a way that is safe for you eyes, but that’s not really that hard. You can find a light that sits on the table while you read or eat breakfast or type. …Something to consider if you see a pattern of fall/winter depressions.
    Even if you don’t feel you have a SAD component to your depressions you might also find guided imagery a useful tool to have around when you’re feeling rough. I like Bellaruth Naprastek’s guided imagery for “Insomnia.” I use if for simple meditation as well as to help me sleep when my mind is racing. It can help trigger a relaxation response in your body’s hormones.
    Thank you for the courage to be open about depression. It is so taboo a topic and so important to speak truth to it.
    Kathleen

    1. Thank you, Kathleen! Weather and sunlight 100% affect me. I take Vitamin D3 (as all of us who live in this area should) and try to find my way to the sun as often as possible. I should look into lights.

  7. Beth, I am hoping that you are finding your way past the wall you hit Thursday, before dawn. I learned so much from reading your account, and while it’s incredibly frightening to understand that you and some of my loved ones suffer in this way, I’m glad to know that there is perseverance as well. I will be thinking of you.

  8. Sending you all the love, Beth. Depression lies, and it is so, so tenacious. So incredibly grateful to have you to wave to in the dark, and please know that we’re waving back (even if we’re on the other side of the world, and technically, our time zones mean we’re never waving in the dark in sync ).xxxxxx

    1. Thank you, Faye. I always love that no one’s in the dark at once. Somewhere, there’s someone in the sun who can remind us it’s there. ☀️ ❤️

  9. Waving back at you, Beth. Thank you for sharing – my OCD has been increasing in strength for over a year now, and I am so tired of fighting this battle every day. Sometimes it feels like I won’t get to come up for air, so thank you for preaching against the lies. We can do this. Love you, even though we’ve never met.

    1. Yes, we can, Jamie! ❤️Solidarity, friend.

  10. I wrote a comment and then tried to publish it before adding my name (yes, I’m stupid like that) and now it has disappeared…
    I don’t remember all the smart (not) words I used.
    I do remember adding love and hugs to everyone here and you and Luke (and Kevin!).
    And waving while bobbing up and down in and below the water and over muddy and less muddy areas.
    Oh and also I love you so would come to any retreat that would have a spot for me just to be able to meet you in real life, but I can’t (at the moment – which might be just for the better for you and your Borg-containment efforts.)

    1. Argh! Losing comments is the WORST. Thank you for posting anyway and not throwing your computer out the window. Love and hugs are the most important, though, anyway. ❤️

  11. Thank you Beth. You are stronger than you know. Sharing your vulnerability touched me deeply. Much love and light to you. And many MANY hugs.

    1. Love, light, and hugs back at you, Sasha! ❤️

  12. Love to you, Beth. Thank you for sharing your pain and vulnerability in this space. You show me what generosity of spirit really means. This is a story that needs to be told and you do it beautifully.

    Like so many other people who are following your blog, I wish I could repay you in kind for the many times your were a buoy to my spirit. For now, I will send you a big virtual hug. Keep taking care of yourself and thanks again for sharing yourself with us.

    1. Thank you, Alicia. ❤️

  13. Thanks for sharing yourself with us. Love and hugs and light.

  14. Being human. Thanks for this post. Not the same…and the same, as my current situation and process. I choose you as a sister <3 and deeply appreciate and love your heart. I consider my own psyche pretty delicate and have learned to care for it the way you have yours. I'm currently working on how to balance and care for myself when things happen that I have no control of that are just plain difficult situations that suck. It's a journey for sure. Much love 🙂

    1. Sending you love on the journey, as well, April. ❤️

  15. Thank you, Beth. I am currently trying to support my son (16), who has anxiety and depression (and also severe substance abuse disorder). I have the hardest time when he says he feels “numb,” and that he doesn’t remember ever feeling any joy. He’s in counseling and taking medication, but it feels like everything is just getting progressively worse every day.

    I’m optimistic but also feeling so inept. He has care and my husband and I are aligned in supporting him, but it’s so very hard to watch him struggle (much of this struggle comes his substance use, which he works very hard to maintain and also hide from us. He doesn’t realize how much we know about it and won’t talk to us about it). I know I need to be patient and present and loving, but I’m also terrified and despondent, watching this.

    In some way it’s helpful to have insight into what these episodes are like for someone with depression. I know it can’t be exactly the same from person to person, but I’m getting so little information from him, it just helps.

    I wish you the best. I’m sorry you’re struggling. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hug to you too!

    2. Oh, Beth, I’m so sorry. There’s truly nothing worse than watching your child suffer. I recognize his feelings — including his lack of feelings — and the desire to sooth myself with substances. Mine is overeating. It’s a long journey. He’s so lucky to have you, even if he doesn’t know that yet. Sending you and yours all the love. ❤️

  16. I do this, too, I don’t ask for help. I don’t say anything to my husband (who cares but sort of expects me to tell him what I need when I don’t have a clue), I don’t say anything to my friends. I bet they would all like to help me. I bet they would cry if they knew I hadn’t asked for their help when I was in so much pain. We are taught, men and women, that strength is not needing help.
    During one round of (very unproductive) counselling, my counsellor gave me a couple of crisis numbers to call when my feelings were spiralling out of control. She said that they are really not just for people who are actively planning suicide. Both times I called were at mealtimes when the children were doing small children stuff and making me contemplate violence to myself (a particularly unhelpful coping mechanism). I suspect one of the people I talked to had not experienced the joy of family mealtimes but, even so, both phone calls gave me a tiny bit of breathing space so that I could adjust my reaction. Both children were so stunned that I had walked out of the room that everything was a little calmer. And nobody choked, burned themselves, whatever.
    So: make the calls; ask the friends to just turn up at your door with herbal tea, a book and a willingness to clean up the kitchen or empty the washing machine; and keep being kind to yourself. xo

    1. GOOD JOB making the calls, Jennifer! And for sharing your journey with us. Love and light to you. ❤️

  17. Thank you for your openness. Vulnerability is strength. Other than a bout of postpartum, I haven’t experienced depression, but loved ones do. Thank you for helping me better understand how it feels!

    And your waving in the dark idea has gotten me through many hard times. Waving right back at you.

  18. Hi Beth, I don’t mean this question in a rude way, it’s obviously asked in the I-don’t-know-you way. Have you been tested for bipolar? My daughter has it (age 7!!!) and your moods sound similar. Sending love and support your way. ❤️

    1. Thanks, Sarah. That’s not rude. Assembling the pieces of the mental health puzzle is a hard task, so people asking if I’ve considered various pieces is just fine. I’m not bipolar — I don’t have the manic episodes, just the depressive ones. I’m so sorry your daughter is dealing with bipolar — mental health is no joke — but I’m so glad she has you and you have a diagnosis. Sending lots of love to you both.

  19. Beth. I didn’t tear up until the photos of your text conversation. I read the whole thing with a kind of disengagement due to seeing myself in your words. I’m trying something new in my life and feeling wholly unsupported most of the time. I’m actually a little embarrassed to need to be doing this new thing and to feel unsupported at the same time makes me want to run. So I’ve been moody and fragile between bursts of good and strong. So, the me with a fake skin read your post and the raw me read your texts. I don’t know that they will help me in my journey, but it’s nice to not feel so alone. As you like so say, I’m waving at you in the dark. Sitting with you even if you don’t know I’m there.

    1. And I’m sitting with you, too, Jen. Never alone. ❤️ Wishing you all the best with your New Thing!

  20. Many years ago when I was a newly adopted mother I was feeling so lost and overwhelmed. It was very isolating and lonely. I found your brutal and funny and honest and not always so pretty blog. It helps put some things into perspective and got me through some long hard days. You are important and you are doing good in the world in ways you don’t even realize. We need you. Please keep doing what you do when you are able. It matters.

    I read this sitting alone at my dinning table at 11:45 eating icecream straight from the carton with a large soup spoon. I’m not depressed but I’m feeling helpless and unable to be what my kids need. My adopted daughters are 12 and 13 and going off the rails. I have no idea how to help them and I literally cannot think of a way to hold them any tighter. They are getting lost and I cannot seem to help them see how dangerous their choices are. I swear my head will explode if I hear one more lie. They are in a spiral and there is nothing I can do but stand by with the scotch tape to help them put themselves back together after the fall. Please God not dead or trafficked or pregnant or addicted. Please.

    I couldn’t take anymore and was so relieved when they left for school today and I could go back to bed and have a nap and pretend everything was okay. 45 minutes later the sky opened up and poured. Normally I love to snuggle in my bed and listen to it rain. But after a few moments I realized it was coming from near the foot of the bed. I found a leaking spot in the ceiling and a good drizzle landing in my fabric storage bin. From the mildew smell when I moved things it had been happening for some time. I really can’t afford this. But we will find a way.

    Now it’s midnight and I can’t sleep in my mildew and mold filled room. I’ve got 6-7 extra loads of wet laundry to do. And a busy emotional day of kids doctors and IEP meeting and my own therapist to look forward to starting at the crack of dawn with no nap or rest until after 8 pm. I do not have any idea how I will stagger foreword tomorrow. I suspect there will be crying and coffee to tied me over but I have time blocked out to hide and take care of myself in a couple days. I think I can make it. I hope I’m not wrong. In the mean time I’ll get a little fatter and more miserable because food it where I fall apart first.

    It’s very dark and really really muddy for me right now. Just like for you but in a different way. But I’m waving to you. I see your pain. I wish I could give you a big hug and load your dishwasher for you. I wish someone could do that for me too. Until that happens I will try my hardest to be kind and gentle with myself if you will also try to be kind to you. Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about so I’ll do my best to be gentle with the rest of the world too.

    Thank you for being an authentic person and for the community you creat around you. I appreciate it so much.

    1. Dear Jennifer,
      You sound so alone as you’re struggling to help your daughters and yourself. There is a wonderful Facebook group called “Positive Parenting Village by AFineParent. The forum support group is truly wonderful. You will find lots of good, non-judgmental support and ideas. I encourage you to give them a try. When my twins were young I found similar help in another such group. It made me feel much less alone and I got the brainstorming ideas from a flock of experienced parents. Really, No Parent is an Island! Hang in there! Sending Hugs thru the ether. Kathleen

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/PositiveParentingVillage?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=620403-how-to-help-a-child-who-is-not-really&utm_source=lists%2F40942-AFineParent-Com-Inspiration-And-Tips&simplero_object_id=su_cRGF6oYD3fjc6dJsHQWP6NZV

    2. I am so sorry that you are having a tough time. I worry about my kids too, and their IEPs and 504s and pain, and why I feel so incompetent to help them, and all I have to offer is a hand to hold in the dark. xoxo, friend. One breath at a time.

      Also, I love Luke. We all need a Luke/Kevin.

    3. Oh, Jenniffer, I’m so sorry it’s dark and muddy and ACTUALLY RAINING inside. It’s times like that when I just want to face plant in the middle of the floor and stay there until the crisis is over. I SO feel you. (We’ve had the house flood and the kids off the rails and wondering how we’d possibly face another day, too.) It’s times like this I wish I had a magic wand so we don’t have to struggle. Blerg. But I’m sending lots of love to you and waving and waving. ❤️

  21. You are real. You are brave. You are loving. Of course we all want to spend time with you at your retreats because of all of the above.
    Thank you for helping yourself and not just everyone else.❤️

  22. Thank you for sharing this. I’m so sorry you are struggling right now. I also struggle with depression, and although I’m doing well right now there have been times I’ve considered calling a crisis hotline but haven’t for fear I’m not in crisis “enough.” I guess I thought they are for suicidal people and that will never be an option for me. (My grandfather died by suicide before I was born and it *still* impacts our family. I could never do that to anyone. Though with his depression and things being what they were at the time I do not blame him.) Anyhow, your sharing this lets me know it would be OK to reach out if I need it in the future. Thank you. And you will be in my prayers. I understand what you’re going through – at least to some degree – enough to wave in the dark and send lots of love.

    1. Yes — me, too! What is this with thinking we’re not in “crisis enough?” Isn’t that strange? We’d reassure ANY of our friends it’s OK to call, but somehow hold back ourselves. Bless our hearts. I, too, have seen the aftermath of suicide first hand when my cousin died 20 years ago at age 18. No one saw it coming. He left a letter, and it was very clear he didn’t comprehend at all the impact it would have… and still has… on his family. People who end their lives believe the lie that the world is better off without them, that they’re doing others a favor, and that people will move on in time. All false. So, as much as I wish my hilarious, smart, gifted cousin was still here with us, I honor his life by rejecting the lies.

      Waving back at you. ❤️

  23. Thank you for being brave enough to share this. I think most people, myself included, are going to respond with love and virtual hugs to your exposed viscera. Even if I can’t 100% know your experience, there are days when this life is so hard, I find it difficult to muster up the enthusiasm to pick myself up again (this generally requires a whole heap of swearing under my breath and ‘seriously God, again? Haven’t I earned just one easy pass yet?’ entreaties). I so admire your courage to share this part of you with us. You’re not alone and now I feel like I’m not either. So, thank you and waving in the dark.

    1. Love to you, Melissa. And never underestimate the power of a good swear session. ❤️

  24. I love you so much Beth. You are so 100% real. No bull shit. I like that. I need that. Your post reminds me of so many of my clients….so many pieces of me….thank you for sharing your heart.

    1. Love you back, Penny Layne. ❤️

  25. Beth…thank you. Thank you for being brave and transparent. This post helped me in so many ways. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Leah. ❤️

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