As many of you know, this last year or so has been incredibly transitional for me. I became a wife; I gave birth to my son, becoming a mother; I moved out of Texas for the first time in my life.
To say that these transitions have been easy or even, at times, manageable would be a lie. Becoming a mother was the hardest most challenging thing I have ever done, but it has also been the most rewarding. However, moving from Texas to Tennessee has proven to rival the previous life change. I was surprised at how emotionally attached I was, and am, to Texas. My identity was literally born in Texas and leaving there without the intent of moving back crushed me.
People like to remind me that we could move back one day. To not give up hope because it’s always a possibility. While I understand their sentiment and appreciate their empathy, I told myself when we moved that this would be permanent. It would not be fair to Zach or to Jackson (and any future children) for me to live my life here in Tennessee focused on when we would be able to move back to Texas. Constantly planning for the return and never living in the present would rob my family of a grounded life that could bloom into something beautiful.
However, that mindset made my transition that much more difficult. Three weeks into moving here I began to cry myself to sleep. Being a working mother was exhausting – I could barely find the energy to watch a TV show, much less finding time to work-out. When Zach would ask me what was wrong, all I could muster was, “I wanna go home”. Soon, I found myself crying at my desk at work; coming home and not wanting to interact with anyone.
To make matters worse, Zach’s schedule was almost completely opposite mine. He was working nights and weekends and I had the Mon-Fri 8AM to 5PM. I think we were seeing each other an average of ten hours per week and some days I wouldn’t see him at all.
I knew this transition to Tennessee would be hard, but I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming sadness and ache that my heart would experience.
As the weeks turned into months, I only felt more sad and alone. My only friend was Zach and we hardly saw each other. I longed for home – for the familiar and the comfortable.
Ever since moving here, Zach and I have been on different work schedules and on different relationship schedules. The transitions have really affected our relationship and it has caused more issues than not.
We are like most couples. Communication is a huge issue for us, not because we don’t know how to express ourselves, but because we have personal hang-ups, ie. insecurity, shame, guilt, etc. I know that I struggle to express my frustration or disappointment in something because I think I’m being petty or high-maintenance. He doesn’t always communicate his true feelings to me because his feelings are internalized long before he shares them with me and then they come out all at once.
Long story short, I have been feeling incredibly alone and sad during the recent months. My heart has been heavy and currently it still sighs with longing. I have never felt so disconnected from Zach and unhappy in most areas of my life.
Being honest with myself about depression has never been something I enjoy. My entire persona has been built on a contagious personality and a love of laughter. On my good days, I do love laughter and I feed off of other people’s energy. However, I think it is beneficial to acknowledge the depths of life and the toll that the darkness takes on a soul.
I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, but it doesn’t take a professional diagnosis for me to know that my emotions can live in a very dark place. It might surprise you to know that I have dealt with depression for over ten years and still wrestle with it today. I have never been to a therapist because I’ve never felt like my emotions were more than what I could handle. But after moving to Tennessee and trying to manage the barrage of transitional emotions, I felt that the depressive cycles were visiting too often.
Negative emotions can feel like a prison. Like there will never be relief and you will never be free. The unending assault of hopelessness and exhaustion can lead to apathy and overall numbness. In my darkest spells, I have survived on going through the motions each day just to do it all again the following day.
Life is different now that I am a mother. I am no longer responsible for only myself. The choices I make affect the growth and development of a small human. While I am still allowed to be depressed, I am no longer allowed to wallow in it or let it determine my choices and reactions. In the brief moments of respite and calm, I decided on utilizing a therapist. This is a new experience for me and a positive step in my mental health journey.
I don’t ever want to forget that – that my mental health is a journey, not a check box at the doctor’s office. My mental health does not have to be perfect or even look a certain way, but it does need to work-out and eat healthy (ie. read, learn, write, etc).
During the holidays, check on your friends and family. Make sure they are holding up okay. Regardless of whether you think someone could or should be suffering from depression, ask anyway. This time of year can be a really difficult and dark time for many people and sometimes all a person needs is to know that someone is on their team.
If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, these are good resources for you: