Hard Truths In Facing Ongoing Depression

I have been working on a post for the other blog for a few days.  It is on Self Love, and it is WAY too long.  This means I am working through new ideas and having new insights as I write. And that self love was and evidently still is a growing edge for me.  Sigh. It’s always good to step away from a piece of writing that’s not flowing, don’t you think?  So I thought I would take a break to check in with everyone here and say “Hi.”

And “Happy Memorial Weekend Sunday.”   It’s very laid back at our house.  Classical music all day, fabulous grill tonight of a selection of fine veggies. Very tasty!

Featured Image -- 8491Here’s the thing with me today.  This writing I’ve been doing for the other blog about those many depressed years  has been a tough process.   Trying to look back with objective eyes, hoping to lend someone else an insight, sometimes I get additional insight myself.  Sometimes I get triggered and have to stop.

I have not revisited the times I write about for years, in depth.  I am pleased to see that I have new and healthier perspectives.  But some of it involves facing hard truth.

The hardest part has been facing the ways in which I failed my children when I was so depressed.  I had never been willing to understand before why they went to live with their dad and stepmother and why they keep such strong boundaries where I am concerned even today.  They wouldn’t even talk to me for long years.  Now I hear from them occasionally, and I see them once a year or so, and that’s an improvement. I have fantasies sometimes they will be surprised to find out at my funeral that many people love and respect me and I am not the loser they think I am. That’s just a hook my depression sometimes uses to pull me down.  But I can understand that our relationships  also don’t ring any “happy” bells when they think of spending time with me.

I was so overwhelmed in that darkness I thought I had hidden so well, that I just didn’t bring much joy to them.  I didn’t experience joy, so how could I bring it to them?

Dementor sucking life out of Harry

Dementor sucking life out of Harry

I didn’t play, I  didn’t laugh, probably didn’t respond to their subtle requests for support or encouragement in the way happier moms do.  Oh, I went to Little League games, we had dinner together at the kitchen table, I made sure they did homework, we even cuddled and listened to music together before bedtime, but part of me wasn’t there  for them to connect to and I didn’t fully realize it until now.

I gave myself the excuse that being a single mom was hard.  And it is, under the best of circumstances.

And I told myself that I had to work, so I couldn’t be there when they got home from school.  And that’s true too.  But it’s also true that I was often lost in a sad and gloomy world they couldn’t share, very busy fighting dementors I couldn’t tame, who were sucking at my soul.  I just learned recently that  J.K. Rowling’s dementors actually were meant to  represent her depression, as she experienced it.

I  know I was easily frustrated, short-tempered and overly rigid.  I think I didn’t respond warmly to the details of their lives like a happy mom, “oh, you made a picture, wonderful, let’s put it on the fridge – great job, proud of you.”  “You got an A, hallelujah,  let’s go get a pizza.”  It was especially so with my oldest boy; I didn’t know how to talk to him and he didn’t have a mom to confide in. And my younger boy tried too hard to make me be OK, and it’s hard for him to forgive me today.  I didn’t know I was ill.  I just knew I had a hard time coping, that I felt overwhelmed.  That just reinforced the notion that I was flawed and inadequate, gave the dementors added power.  I didn’t think that there was anything that could actually help me.  I was in therapy and it didn’t help. I just toughed it out.

jealousy-1Truthfully, I was always  jealous of their stepmom because they are so much closer to her than to me. I felt really left out – my boys had a big family, withlots of celebrations and outings and fun – I wasn’t in it. She’s very gregarious and outgoing and I am shy and an introvert. But the grim truth is, I was so lost in that enervating fog, so tired all the time, that as hard as I tried and as much as I loved them, I failed them.  Their dad and their stepmom provided a good home  and she and I have worked through many of our issues to become friends, definitely family and more like sisters.  The boys had lots of extended family there, since none of her parents’ kids ever had kids –  my two were their only grandchildren and they were very close.  So they had aunts and uncles and grandparents, lots of family, lots of laughter and lots of love and I am grateful they have been loved so dearly. Sigh.  This is hard stuff.  All the traditions of their lives have been built without me, and now I am 73 and although I get included in their lives – it’s an afterthought.  I wanted to be that parent that shared all those holidays and laughter and traditions and events with them.  My youngest told me when he was a teen that my home just wasn’t home to him any more OUCH.

Couldn’t change it, tried for years.  And cried for years.  It isn’t how I want it, it brings me pain if I let myself dwell on it, but it is one of the losses depression brought me and I just have to accept it.  I hurt them, I didn’t want to, and I am so sorry.  I wish I had known then what I know now. And, I can’t change the past.

Grandma Gerry

Grandma Gerry

Meanwhile I did later raise two other boys, my grandson and my stepson, and they had a very different experience with me – after the hospital and on my meds – and we are part of each other’s lives as they are in their twenties.

I should find out soon whether or not I have become a grandmother again, and that’s pretty exciting.  My oldest son and his wife are in their 40’s now and are trying to adopt a baby.  So I am hoping for the phone to ring.  The new mother had my daughter-in-law in the room with her when she gave birth, having said she wanted to relinquish the little girl, but the papers were to be signed today and we haven’t heard anything.  They will be fabulous parents.  I SO hope they will get to raise that baby.  They have had several disappointments.  Fingers crossed.  No word since Tuesday.  I hope I am allowed to bond with the little one, and maybe things will soften.  But I have to keep my expectations down.

And actually, I do look a little like the little cartoon. I walk with a cane, but my hair hasn’t turned grey yet. It’s long and brown and I wear it down… and no one thinks I am 72.  Maybe I’ll live to be 102, that’d be pretty cool.  It’d make up for some of the years  I lost to depression.

I guess at 72 maybe it’s time to grow up, but I’ll kick and scream the whole way, LOL.  This is hard work, but important, I think.

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8 thoughts on “Hard Truths In Facing Ongoing Depression

  1. Pingback: Post about Failing as a Parent While Depressed | IMAGINE YOURSELF HAPPY™

  2. What a powerful post. I hope your children will take the time to read this. Maybe then, they will see you always had and still have unconditional love for them. And as evident by your words here, you are so very proud of each of them. Thank you for sharing such deeply personal words with us! ❤

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  3. Tela, thank you for your unfailing support. This wasn’t written for my children. I am not sure I want them to read it, at least not now. It was written to process my life experience for myself, and in hopes that perhaps someone somewhere may recognize themselves in me. I have to be honest I think about what it was like, I believe, if anyone is ever to read what I say about recovery without thinking I am just lecturing them.

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  4. This was a hard read for me. I’m still in the throes of parenting, and I know there have been extended times in my kids’ lives when I have been preoccupied, and not compassionate, and irritated, and generally not a “happy mom”. Not even close.

    I’m beginning to understand more about my depression – both how it is affecting me now, and how it has affected me in the past. I’m grieving things that I’ve lost thus far to my depression. I’m scared of the things that I won’t even realize until I, too, am 72.

    Thank you for sharing. I can totally understand how this was difficult to write, and how the act of writing it forced you to really see and acknowledge how things were for you and your kids. I hope most of all that you’re able to reconnect with them in a more meaningful way at some point. And best wishes for a wonderful homecoming for that new baby!

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    • Thanks. I am actually amazed at how defensive I was about this with them even a few years ago. I didn’t want to see it, or the idea of creating fun and whimsey and joy just is a foreign concept it wasn’t in my vocabulary as being a good parent. People who love me love that I am sincere, warm, spiritual, articulate, thoughtful, creative, and open…no one would think of me when asked, “who do you know that is really fun to be around?”

      The insights continue. Good luck with your own processes. And thanks for commenting. Comments are so precious, as we all know.

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      • I understand about the comments and appreciate yours as well. 🙂

        I know what you mean when you say that others wouldn’t describe you as really fun to be around. I’m much the same way – I have many positive qualities that people enjoy, but being the life of the party isn’t among them. And I guess that’s okay… but I’d like to have a little more joy in my kids’ lives – both for my sake and for theirs.

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