Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"I'm Coming Out..."

The end of May marks my two year anniversary on anti-depressants and I thought I'd celebrate with some red wine and a "coming out" post.

This is what happened:
Savvy's birthday was coming up, her first in The New House.
I decided it had to be memorable.

My sister gave me "that look" when I told her I'd stayed up for several nights making paper flowers.
"...because there's this place called Michael's where you can buy..." she said in her typical smart-ass, little sister way.
 Nope. They had to be handmade. Memorable, remember? I learned how to make them on the internet.
along with flower shaped sandwiches
"worms in dirt" pudding cups
and even butterflies made out of tissue and construction paper. (Not as easy as YouTube made it sound)
I ran around decorating, frosting, cooking...floating on a high.
I can't even tell you if anyone offered to help. I would have said no. When I'm like this I'm shocked someone might think I might need it.
I heard it went well, the party.
by the time the party rolled around, I had already started to crash. I'd gotten only a few hours of sleep each night that week, which contributed to the floating down, down, down feeling that marks the  beginning of:
Going Under.

By the end of that week all the typical stuff started happening.
Listening, talking, touching...it all started to dull. It's like trying to do all these things through gauze. It looks like something's right there, but when you go to touch it, hear it, listen to it, it ends up it's really layers away...

And then my gums started going numb. This particular characteristic doesn't always happen when I'm slipping into a deep depression, but when it does, I know it's gonna be bad. No exercising, writing, talking in the world would work. All these things in my "tool box": useless.

This sequence pretty much sums up the rhythms of my life since college, when the depression began to become debilitating:

(It still pisses me off when I think of all the things I screwed up because of "it."
I missed weddings,
I much rather people think I was self-absorbed than "down")

  • Start feeling more pep than usual
  • Can't believe how much I'm capable of and how great life is


  • I start to teeter-totter from so way up high
Hold on tight and hope this time won't be that bad
that I could sleep it off--no matter how long that might take
and wake up and shake it off
go on like nothing happened

This particular time was the first time it had hit me so bad since I had the kids
It became very clear that I was not going to be able to do this mom thing
in such a state.
I no longer had the luxury of self-medicating, sleeping for days, locking myself in a room until I was presentable again.
Nothing's more frightening than the thought of being unable to be a mom to my kids

and so here I am two years later
it's like I finally started living my life
On Saturday I watched my kids playing in the waves
digging a hole in the sand to make a fort for protection against the world
(wouldn't that be cool)
and I had to turn my head so they wouldn't see me cry
B.M. (before meds.), an outing like that would have surely hurled me into a deep one.
My mind would flood with taunts about my inadequacy to compete with all those "real moms."
who remember suntan lotion
and snacks.
Christmas, birthdays, vacations...I feel like I'm actually there now, not watching the Happy Normal People through that gauze I was telling you about.

Things aren't perfect, of course.
I still go under, but I could feel the meds. lifting me up long enough to scramble and grab my tool box.
Many times it pisses me off that I have to be dependent on chemicals to make me "normal."
like right now I am having a glass of forbidden red wine
because this is really hard to write.
...you know how people are
there is still this stigma surrounding depression:
suck it up, you're just being a baby
at work if people know you're "medicated", side-long glances at meetings tell you they attribute any mistake, etc. to your...ahemmm..."condition"

I know because I used to think the same way
about those high-maintenance "depressives" (eyeroll)
who can't get it together.

I like to think of myself as a bad-ass
and taking happy pills didn't fit with the image.

A two year anniversary,
of getting you're life back,
that's something to celebrate and not be ashamed of
and so
I'm coming out...I want the world to know...


  1. What a refreshingly honest post! Thank you Arlene!

    The greatest tragedy is mom's that need help and dont get it for fear of the stigma or label. You are wiser and stronger for it.

    Your children have an amazing mommy in you! Dont ever doubt that.

  2. Thank you for encouraging me to try this blog thing...it means so much to me that you take the time to read it.

  3. Oh, Arlene, how I have MISSED your writing ... how I have missed wonderful YOU. And what an auspicious post for me to show up on. You KNOW how much I relate to this. And GOOD FOR YOU for flinging it out into the world. I try to do this as well, and IT AIN'T EASY. Check out my brand new babyblog if you have the inclination. I would love to see you there. Are you on facebook? Twitter? I would love to reconnect with you again. You were always a very special person to me. :)

  4. I'm so very happy to hear from you! I've tried contacting you through email but it won't go through...asks me for a password I don't have. Any clue why? I'd love to reconnect with you.

    I have so missed you and your writing!
    What's the link to your babyblog? No, I am non-facebook and non-twitter. This blog and email is it!
    My email is: LaSavvy1@hotmail.com