In the 28 years I have been on this planet, I have come to realize a few things.Then I realized I was wrong about all of them and had to start over. That’s irrelevant, though. What I have been thinking about lately is that there is nobody on this planet that doesn’t have their own set of problems. Some people may be far better at covering them up, but everyone has issues. Everyone has days when they are feeling down. I am not alone.
The problem is when feeling down lasts for weeks. When the only thing that gets you out of bed in the morning is your son. The sweet little blue eyed boy who didn’t ask to have a single mother. He didn’t ask to be born. All he has ever asked for is to be loved and taken care of….well, and for cookies. When I tell people that I struggle with depression, I usually get one of two responses. The first is, “well that makes sense, single parenting is rough!” and the second is, “you seem fine!”
Unfortunately, this problem didn’t really start with the single parenting. It started in my mid to late teens and has come and gone. While I would love to pinpoint a reason, I really can’t. I don’t know why. When I get the first response I usually just nod in agreement. I don’t want to explain it to people. It just sounds like self pity. In general, I don’t feel bad for myself. Every decision I have ever made has gotten me where I am today. I own that. I moved out of my parents’ house right after I turned 18. I wasn’t really prepared, I don’t think, but I’ve muddled through it. I’ve managed to survive anyway. I may have made a few poor choices, but nothing terrible. I’ve never been an alcoholic or drug addict. I don’t steal…never killed anyone. All in all, I would say I am proud of myself for setting out on my own so young and figuring it out at all. I have been depressed off and on all through this, though. There were times in my apartment before this one when I was single and didn’t have a kid that I turned down offers to go out and I went home and sat by myself. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I just sat there. The point is, my whole life I have just avoided people when I felt down. Sure, I seem fine when I’m standing there talking to you. Depression isn’t a constant state. I’ve never been suicidal. Just…depressed.
I never wanted medication before. I tried it when I was 18 and it made me feel like a zombie. Sure, I wasn’t sad, but I couldn’t be happy, either. I couldn’t feel anything. So, I planned to never take it again.
Surprisingly after I had my son I wasn’t depressed. I didn’t have postpartum depression even though I’ve often had regular depression. I LOVED him so much. I was thrilled to finally meet him, and I couldn’t picture ever not having him in my life. Sure, things weren’t great with his dad and I, but it didn’t matter as long as I had him.
A year or so later when the real depression came back I had a choice to make. I could let these depressing weeks or months keep coming back. Let myself sit and cry when I was alone and risk having my son see that. Risk not being able to do anything at all to take care of him….or I could try meds again. Actually the doctor sort of insisted on it when I had a panic attack in his office. I got a different kind and surprisingly, they were nothing like the ones I tried before. I am not a zombie. I have feelings. I can still even be mad and sad. I am mad and sad like a regular person, though. Not like someone who absolutely cannot function when I am sad. Still, sometimes I pull back into my shell a little bit for a while. It’s not that I don’t love my friends and family, and it’s not even that I don’t want to talk to them. I just have nothing to say that is upbeat. So, why say anything? It is happening less and less lately, and for that I am grateful.
Anyway, what I have learned from single parenting is, truly, to suck it up and function anyway. Ok, I’m sad, but the dishes don’t wash themselves. The laundry doesn’t either. My son needs me, and while I may be sad, he doesn’t ever need to know that. It’s not his problem, it’s mine. It’s hard to act fine around him, but it is worth it. Usually after faking it for a while and hanging out with my adorable son I bounce back pretty quickly. After all, who could be sad around this?