A lot of people say they're depressed. But they're not.
In a couple of months it'll be two years since I had my Little Breakdown on the Highway...and it wasn't the car that broke down. Next January or so (who remembers these things???) it's two years that I sat down with my doctor and told him about the paralyzing chest pains that I'd been trying to hide from everybody around me, and he gently asked me a list of questions, and my face shook as I answered, slowly, reluctantly, yes, to all of them.
I didn't want to be depressed and I didn't want to have a panic disorder. I wanted to keep crushing it down so that I could get on with my life. It had worked pretty good for...how long? Months? Years? I guess it was years.
When you're a mother, and the father of your hatchlings is gone for 18 hours each day and often weekends as well, and always has, since before you married him, and you agreed to this, that he has the potentially great career, that he's so good at what he does, and that you left college after a year, and that you would rather live cheap on one income than pay somebody else to care for your kids so that you don't have to take some poorly paying job that barely covers the sitter and the gas in the tank to get to work, but it doesn't matter because his one income is not very high and buying groceries is difficult, and your precious old car is having trouble, so you park it, and you walk, which is okay because you live in town, and as much as you long for the country you know that at least this way you can walk to the grocery store, but so often you wish that if he was gone all the time you could at least pay somebody to mow the lawn because the kids aren't big enough to leave them while you go out and do it yourself, and besides, somebody's always crying, and you love that big man, you really do, and it's a tragedy that he's always gone because you like each other so much that you'd love to have him around, while you look at other couples who merely tolerate each other and spend every damn boring evening in front of the same TV, barking at the same kids, sleeping in the same bed, and you're jealous because they don't know what they've got, and there you are with too many people and too many cars and too many other houses, and there are some days when you feel like this time you really will run screaming, this time you really will slam that gearshift up into park before the tires have even stopped rolling, and leave those precious children strapped into the car while you run, where, anywhere, anywhere but here, and there are days when you feel like you have the best life in the world because they are the best children in the world, and this is a love that you couldn't have predicted, and you can't understand why, if you love them so much, why some days you just sit on the couch and stare at the wall while they chatter away into unhearing space, and you squeeze the horrible thoughts out of your head, and try not to question if anybody else ever feels this way, and your husband doesn't notice because his mum was nuts, and he wouldn't know the look of a woman falling apart but it doesn't matter because you'll hide it, you'll hide it from your own mother, and when you're out for the afternoon you can smile, you can laugh, and you know you're not really faking it, because you can still feel good, you can still have fun, but when it's over you can't stand being in the bright lights and the laughter so you retreat and your skin burns with every touch and you close your eyes and you're eight again, walking down the bush lane, past the sagging fence with the long grass brushing your legs, and you open your eyes and nothing has changed and that's why you will keep crushing it down as long as it takes...
Would anybody break down? Maybe. Who knows?
We started putting it together, looking back over the years. There were patterns. I'd go into this deep pit every few years. If I looked back far enough, I could trace it back to age 12, when I started asking disturbing questions about death. I talked about things that kids that age couldn't have a grasp of. I was still a little girl in jeans with my hair in two braids, but the dark side was coming out already.
I've learned a few things.
This may be something I'll always have to deal with. I can't hate it; I have to just accept it and work with it and not let it destroy me. I have to understand that it's not forever and that every day I change.
I can't be ashamed of it. I can't keep trying to hide it.
I'm not the only one. Not by far. I don't know if we always had this, or if it's rampant in an unnatural modern world, but a shocking amount of us are suffering.
And, some people are just a bunch of whiners. I don't have to listen to them. I don't have to start up a contest to see who's legitimately depressed and who's just complaining.
I'm feeling much better now. I don't feel perfect. I don't think anybody does. But slowly, over the span of months and years, I feel more like myself. That's different, because Myself has changed. Every day I'm more okay with it.