Every time there is a woman going through depression, I am reminded of my struggle. I think there is some part of mental illness, even Post Partum Depression, that is like an addiction: you have to be aware of it for the rest of your life. It is always a part of you. And you can look back at parts of your life before the diagnoses and see glimpses of it then. It is completely enmeshed with your identity.
Jason can see parts of his addictive nature in everything…his obsession with our budget, his hunt for new foods to try, his tendency to take something and run with it to the extreme.
He can look back at his days as a carver in his early teens, his need for attention, his penchant for doing crazy things to get an adrenaline rush.
I look at my adolescence and remember feeling out of place. Out of my skin. Like I wasn’t really a part of the acceptable world. I constantly strove to make better grades, to be the smartest, since I wasn’t the prettiest or the most clever. I had to be the smart one. I constantly escaped into books and movies and a rich imagination. If I couldn’t be the best at something, like math or 4H or heck, even cleaning my room, I gave up. Sure, there was the standard parental pressure of the 80’s and 90’s on the oldest child to be successful, but my parents were generally supportive. And loved me unconditionally. Possibly even more than that, since they tried for 7 years before they had me. There was just something that misfired in my brain and told me I wasn’t good enough.
I didn’t realize this was an abnormal feeling until diagnosed with PPD. And my therapy sessions revealed that perhaps PPD was more of a trigger, that this clinical depression was lying dormant for MUCH longer. And it made SO much sense. And I was relieved.
But like I said, it is a lifelong struggle. Like Jason has moments when he craves meth so badly that he can taste it, I sometimes long to crawl into my bed and roll around in my sadness. I have to fight my natural instinct, to indulge in my misery, and instead embrace happiness. Not all the time, of course, but there are definite moments.
We both fight these urges, for our girl. She is the one who made us a family. Who forced us to be grown-ups, to pull ourselves up and make ourselves better. She is the light of our lives, and easily the best thing either of us has done. She is the reason I take the little white pill every day, the reason Jason says no.
And we watch. We look for little signs. Does her love for fast rides and daredevil tactics predict a life of searching for the next high? Does the shaking rage when she doesn’t get her way indicate a misfiring synapse? Did she get the wrong number in the Roulette wheel? I mean, she has a mother who is clinically depressed, a father who is a drug addict, she was born on Smoker’s New Year…Is there any hope?
Then I look at her. I watch her hug the dogs, and sing Jingle Bells (the Bing Crosby version), and tell me, “Good night, darling, I love you,” because darling is the term of endearment I use most for her. I hug her, hold her tight, tell her everyday she is beautiful and I love her. And I know that no matter what happens…we will be ok.
She will be ok.