This all may read as a next level blend of self-indulgent complaining-cum-bragging, but honestly, if you want to waste your day and read the rest of this blog, you’ll understand that it’s really just relief and gratitude.
I don’t know how you process information, man.
The last 5 weeks have been a cascade of nonstop issues. I flooded The Bear’s bedroom by mowing our lawn too aggressively (yes, really), so she’s had to sleep on the couch a lot and her room has been in complete disarray as the sheet rock was removed and blowers attempted to dry out the walls for days on end. On top of that, she’s had some strange gastrointestinal issue that is causing her a lot of pain and bizarre waves of weeklong symptoms, fevers, and other stuff I’m keeping vague for privacy reasons. She’s been on a bland diet for weeks now to keep the pain at bay while we’re getting tests done, (Which means she’s not had any Halloween candy yet despite trick-or-treating for it with her friends. She’s a far stronger person than I.) and he’s lost a little weight and it’s not getting better, which has me freaking out a bit.
Those are the two major problem spots; there’s a handful of other stuffs we’ve been grappling with, but I won’t bore you with details.
However, what’s amazing about all this is that, somehow, our household has managed to stay positive, pragmatic, and happy despite everything going on.
I know I’ve said it a lot in the last year, but this is a first.
With my hormones being leveled out, I’m more consistently stable than ever, both mentally and physically, and my productivity has been remarkable in the last couple months since I started progesterone therapy. As a result, my husband is able to really let down his guard at home in a way I’ve never seen before, and our house is becoming more of a haven, despite being in a bit of physical chaos.
We’re all joking and laughing together every day. We’re all sitting down to talk and have real conversations about stuff we want to do. We’re making plans about a vacation we’d like to take in a year. We’re spending time together enjoying each other.
And not just in fits and spurts, but as an everyday thing. Like, as a lifestyle.
The Bear has singlehandedly instated “Daily Cuddles” and makes sure one of us snuggles and chats with her for a minimum of 20 minutes every morning or evening.
She has randomly said at least 3 times in the last few weeks “Mommy, I really like talking to you.” and it’s the best thing anyone has ever said to me.
The whole temperament of our family has changed gradually into something soothing and sustainable.
Yesterday was incredible from a “how are we doing this!?” perspective. Greg and I were beginning a Sunday Morning Snuggles session (that’s, um, a different activity) and I got up to check on the Bear and lock the door when I noticed that there was cat poo and poopy paw prints all over the carpet. It was super gross, but, somehow, without ANY negativity or argument, we all picked individual tasks, jumped right in, and began the hours-long process of sanitizing everything in the house. Obviously, we made jokes about ways of punishing the kitties, but we were laughing about the situation the entire time.
This is unprecedented.
People who are unfamiliar with depression or mental illness from a first-person perspective are quick to say “Attitude is everything!!!!” and, while I’ve always understood their point, it’s frustrating that these types can’t comprehend that there are millions of us who are unable to shift attitudes as though we are changing clothes. Much like someone who is recently paralyzed would hate to be constantly encouraged to “just get up and walk and you’ll feel better!!” those of us with a history of depression are sick of being told that all we need is “an attitude of gratitude!!”; we are fully aware that this would make life much easier. I’ve seen both sides of the veil; I spent a couple decades mostly immersed on the side where the perspective of depression crafted my reality (there were moments of clarity and optimism that kept me afloat) and, only in the last 18 months have I gradually been able to move out of that fog.
It isn’t because my attitude changed; I ALWAYS wanted to feel happier. I spent 40% of my life actively trying to find solutions every single day. Even in the years I was struggling with a drinking problem, I was just looking for a way to feel better or, at least, escape feeling awful. For the years following, in active recovery I struggled to make a daily gratitude list and focus on positive things in hopes they would make me feel something. I said, “There’s no reason for me to feel suicidal” so many times in the last 20 years it could’ve been my catchphrase. Realizing I “didn’t need to be sad” or “had a lot going for me” didn’t stop a shadow of hopeless despair from being a part of my daily life. The guilt/shame of feeling awful despite knowing I “shouldn’t” only exacerbated the problem.
It isn’t because my circumstances changed; I’ve had serious exterior hardships in my life, but things were never completely unbearable. These last 8 years with my new family have been difficult mentally, but emotionally very, very beneficial. (As evidenced by the example that I miraculously stopped biting my nails after doing so since I was 2 years old. I noticed I had long nails about 6 months after The Bear was born. I haven’t started back since.)
This is because my body’s chemistry is changing. Period.
With regulated hormones helping me have a healthy monthly cycle, my mental state is clearer than ever. I don’t feel particularly driven or loaded with energy, but that’s okay. I like being here in the middle for a change. It’s uncharted territory for me, who has been used to extremes.
I’m completely medication free (aside from bioidentical hormones, which I don’t count.) I’m consistent in my energy, interest, focus, and emotion. My little family is happy and enjoying each other in the middle of what normally would be stressful circumstances. For the first time since we started a family, I’m not struggling with that nonstop underlying urge to run away from my husband and kid to “make everyone’s life easier” anymore.
I can’t help but be really, really grateful.