Saturday, March 7, 2015

Honesty: 3 Months of Depressive Moments

I'm beginning a series about Honesty.

I have a confession to make. So far, 2015 has been pretty crappy, emotionally, for me.

In January I had a breakdown, crying, because I wasn't being a good wife and I didn't know what to do about it. My husband was open and communicated his feelings and I felt horrible. I felt like a failure as a wife. The role of wife and lover and partner physically was outside of my grasp. If I couldn't be the woman he needed, I was a loser.

While there is some truth in this, having a physical relationship whenever only one of you desires it does not a marriage make. He was frustrated that we could not connect anymore and I could not tell him what I needed (as he was willing to do anything for me) because I didn't know. I was broken. I was without answers. My silence was more disheartening than the initial problem.

What worked for us was expressing our needs and then trying small steps to meet them. We had to meet in the middle, compromise. I had to stop shutting him out and being preoccupied with other things. This is what worked:

1. Cuddling, without pressure to be anything more than a warm body in the presence of each other. I would concentrate on relaxing and quelling all the negative, or distracting, thoughts that arise and remember that love feeling. I was the one with all the negative feelings crowding the space where I should have been cherishing the moments we had together. When I relaxed and let the love in, I was more receptive to warmth and could kiss back with more passion.

2. Share a few dreams or goals and reconnect where you are. Do you need a vacation? Ask what places would be reasonable and ideal. Your partner may have different ideas. Mine did. Is there a way to have them shoulder a burden for you? While he can't help with any of my work-related stuff, he can help with the children, or be supportive of a night out.

3. Perhaps the humdrum of day to day work tasks has left little time to be together. BE together, not just in the same room, but in the same space, both physically and mentally. If you have to get rid of the kids, take a 'mental health' day from work, or clear your schedule in any way to make time for your partner, do it. It doesn't have to be a full day, but maybe a few hours of just the two of you, really listening to each other, crying it all out, giving back rubs, or cuddling is enough to reconnect. While we have a 'date night' it is about fun with others more than about us building our relationship. We still needed to stop everything and have some 'us' time.

After I began to feel better, and cried myself over this hurdle, letting go of the guilt that held me back I learned to become the wife he needed me to be. I shared that at the heart of it, I was feeling like a jane-of-all-trades and a master of none. I felt like all my efforts were treading water in life and not succeeding at all. I lost the desire to improve.

These were mostly work issues.

At work, I began to have some paranoia. I felt that others on my team were talking about my lack of good leadership skills and all my shortcomings and failures behind my back. I have no idea how true or false this is. What I should have done was schedule a meeting and just let us all air our grievances, and come up with ideas for bettering the work environment. The same kind of communication I had with my husband I needed at work.

But I didn't do that. I couldn't face crying in front of them. I hate to cry in front of people who are not super close to me. It took time and a few changes, but things began to look up again. I admitted some negative feelings and had some friendlier casual conversations and began to stop thinking that they were 'out to get me' in a sense. It was not that they WANT my job. (Hardly anyone wants to do what I have to do. In fact, they say often that if things go sour, I'm the one that gets blamed. I know they don't want that pressure. Sometimes I don't want it either.) Rather, it was that they thought they could do better work than I could and often implemented their ideas without telling me, knowing that I naturally and usually agree that they are good ideas. I felt a bit out of control and I didn't like it. However, sometimes I need someone else to take the helm for a while and steer the ship. Clearly, if I was having emotional issues, I was in no shape to be commanding. They probably sensed this and took over. I knew I would have to put on my big girl pants and lead soon enough. I watched for my opening and quietly began to control what I could to restore their faith in me. I'm not one for loud outbursts, but covert and introverted ways to climb back out on top.

Finally, my parenting was questioned. This hurt as bad as the role of wife. This cut me to the core. If I'm a bad mother, then how can people trust me with their children? Who am I as a parent if I am this bad at it?

I cried and felt terrible and angry at myself. I felt like this mama duck. I didn't sleep well. I had a plan. I knew what had to be done. Still, I wanted someone to say all those encouraging things to me that are borderline lies, all opinions that I am better than this and I am good and not bad, but no one was around. But my logical partner simply was not going to give me that. He said if I had a plan, that was good enough. I should get some rest. But I kept beating myself up. I would get angry, then depressed that I was such a loser, then angry about being depressed and think about my plan to steady myself, which led to thinking about why I had to have a plan in the first place, and then I'd get depressed again and angry at myself. This cycle lasted for a few hours.
I got a little sleep that night and went to work and distracted myself. I got a few things done and talked about non-parenting things and solved tiny problems, took control where I could, and finally felt better. The morning was rough physically because I was so upset, my intestines were unhappy. I spent extra time in pain and in the bathroom until I stopped feeling emotionally bad. My physical symptoms dissipated and I got through the day. Nothing I had imagined happening as a result of my poor parenting skills happened. I began to release these unnecessary fears and worries.

Later, a friend contacted me that I haven't heard from in a long time. She was exactly what I needed. She said the things I needed to hear. While I appreciate the logical responses that ask me to solve my problems and to plan for any eventual relapse in judgement and how to deal with it, I also need the emotional sympathizing and the kind words that emotional people provide. I cried again, because I felt loved. Logical people don't always come across to others as loving, empathetic people. She was my sympathizer. We swapped stories of hard times and supported each other and reminded each other that people have lows and need to remember to encourage each other through them.

While these episodes are short, I am reminded of how it must feel for those who have major mental health issues, chronic depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other issues that I do not know the names of. This is not a post about having chronic depression. This is a post about what I went through in a short time and how I dealt with it. It may help someone, it may annoy others.

I want 2015 to stop being so bad. I have to look at it as a sort of 'growing pain' and accept that it's just my time to learn some hard lessons. It's time to grow a thicker skin. That hurts. I have to change with the times, with the situations, and become a better person.

1 comment:

Adrian Morgan said...

"When we think about the people who have given us hope and have increased the strength of our soul, we might discover that they were not the advice givers, warners or moralists, but the few who were able to articulate in words and actions the human condition in which we participate and who encouraged us to face the realities of life."

-- Henri J M Nouwen

(He goes on to give examples but I don't want to type it all out.)

You know I wish I had some magic word that would make things better when you're going through tough times (and the same to all my friends). Without that magic word, all I can give are the little things, like reading your words, sending virtual hugs, and mostly providing distraction and comic relief. It's not much but it's what I've got.

The only other thing I can think of is that I could share your recent blog posts on Twitter and ask people to consider sending you some moral support. You might not get any, but I'm willing to give it a go if you'd like that.