As Good as it Gets?

“So…  Depression, huh?  You’ve been feeling a little depressed?”

“Well…  I wouldn’t have come out and said it like that.  I’ve been feeling a little ‘off’ since my youngest daughter was born.”

I remember when C was born–in the middle of a shit-storm.  We were facing our first set of big separations from Husband including our first deployment, Mom was sick–though we didn’t know how very sick she really was.  I didn’t know where to be.  I just didn’t.  Things were just plain hard.

And yet I was so happy being a Mom.  The rightness of it was cosmic.  It was like I had stepped into who I was always meant to become.  I was this beautiful little being’s Mom.  I was a mother.  In the midst of the Hell that happened around me those first few months of her life, that truth was constant.  That was joy pure and simple.  It was a respite from the grief.  It was something to hold onto in the tempest.  It was a piece of me that, though I was only just coming to know it, I recognized.

“So…  Explain this to me in a way that I can understand.  Clinical Depression?  That doesn’t sound like me.  Explain this in a way that will help me to understand why you think that sounds like me.”

“Well, simply put, depression is lacking joy in areas of your life that used to bring joy to you.  You used to find joy in knitting, you don’t now.  You used to like to take walks in the rain, you don’t now.”

With A, I am so incredibly in love.  I am.  I adore this little being.  I do.  But the rightness…  That feeling of rightness has vanished.  I don’t know who I am with my girls.  I don’t like who I am with my girls.  There is joy in discovering who they are, in being with them, but there is little joy in being a mother.

“Your Mom died two years ago?  This could be bereavement…  This could be grief.”

“Yeah, Yeah…  Grief I know.  I know I’m grieving.  I always will be.  I get that.”

“Yeah and you’re trying to push it down.  I’m watching you.  You are doing everything you can to smother it and push it down.”

Standing outside myself for that moment I could see it.  I could see my arms flailing and my shoulders hunching and all of my body trying so hard to control the emotion.  I was shoving it down.  Physically.  Damn it.  I thought I was in control and here was my body visibly betraying me to my doctor. 

“You’ve been through some hard times in the last few years.  You have.  Your mom died.  Your husband has been away a lot.  That’s hard.”

“It’s not supposed to be hard!  It’s not!  It’s not supposed to be hard.  I’m supposed to be able to do it.”

“Who says?”

Yeah, there I go again…..

“You’re too good at this for your own good.  Do you know that?  You do function.  You function just fine.  You got a 4.0 even though you tried to sleep through a semester of college.  You’re good at functioning through it.  Left alone, you’d get through this too.  You’d get better.  I just don’t know how long it would take.”

“My girls…..”

With C, I felt so cheated.  I felt cheated because her whole world was swallowed up by Mom’s illness, by her death, by my grief.  I felt like I didn’t look at her and soak her in as much as I should have, as much as I was entitled to, because I was so encompassed in the pain of losing Mom. 

Now, I’m still not seeing them.  They deserve to be seen.  They do.  I want to see them and revel in them.  I want to feel joy as a Mom.

And so…  Welcome, Val, to the world of Zoloft. 

Welcome to the task of wrapping your head around the word, ‘depression.’ 

Welcome to the realization that even though you’re broken, that there is hope in that.  Broken things can be mended.  If this is it, if this is as good as it gets–If this is wholeness and what being a Mom looks like–then that would be pretty disappointing.

But hopefully…  It’s not.  Hopefully there will be mending.  Hopefully I’m moving toward being more whole.

I hope so.


14 thoughts on “As Good as it Gets?

  1. Last year I went through this same process of deciding that even though I could probably function until my depression lifted, that I needed to take action to force it off of me.

    I went through so many different emotions when I first entered the world of Welbutrin… It’s actually almost exactly a year ago that I started down that path.

    The help that the medication gave me was, and continues to be tremendous. It gave me my life back.

    Yesterday I had an interview for a team lead position within the project I’m working on. If I hadn’t been recovered from my depression, I don’t think I would’ve had that interview.

    Thanks for writing this, hope you don’t mind me sharing my experience here in your comments. I’ll say a prayer for you to rediscover your joy in motherhood, and all the other joys that have gone out of your life right now. *hugs*

  2. Oh, Val…{{hug}}
    It’s ok to get some chemical help. You may not need it forever. My dad takes it to get over certain ‘humps’ in his life and then he doesn’t need it.

    I need it continuously. But it took me 17 years of depression before I would accept it. Now I understand that chemical imbalances happen. It’s real. And the meds really can help! I know you’ve read about me, so you know that I had no joy for life at all. I don’t believe that God takes pleasure in our depression. He wants to give us life more abundantly. I’m at a place in my life that I will take all the help available to me to be able to experience that life.

    I think your doc was very perceptive. (Wow, you’ve found a good military doc, yay!) In case he didn’t tell you, it may take up to a month for the meds to get to a therapeutic level. I felt anxious/wierd the first week or two.

    You are an amazing woman! It takes courage, humility and wisdom to accept help.

  3. I agree with Jenny, not only do you have an amazing doctor, you ARE an amazing woman. Admitting there’s a problem and then taking steps to solve that problem is a GOOD thing. You are already on the road to recovery. And yes, zoloft does help, but if it doesn’t don’t be afraid to try others. Everyone has a different chemical makeup and different medications work for different people.

  4. ((((Val))))
    I have no idea what everything you’ve been through is like, but I know it’s crazy hard. I know it’s hard getting to the medication phase; but I also believe it can help, even if you have to go through a few to find one that works.
    To echo what was said above, you are a wonderful, beautiful, amazing woman. I am so blessed to know you. You’ve always been better at helping me than I have been at helping you but let me know if you need anything.

  5. Depression is a hard thing to wrap your head around – especially when it is happening to you.

    Being bipolar and being told I was bipolar was a hard thing to come to grips with. Yet in the end – the meds have made a world of difference.

    Have faith knowing that even though you need something right now to help you get that joy back – it will come back and you might not need the help from Zoloft forever.


  6. Oh, Val…

    I don’t believe that this is going to be as good as it gets for you, because you deserve more. I think as moms, we so often put ourselves in last place that we start to believe that we belong there… and then eventually life starts feeling like less than it should be. Take some time to take care of yourself – you are worth it! And what a lot you have been through in such a short window of time. You’re not somehow failing because you feel these things, you’re just human… and a beautiful one at that. Lots of prayers and warm thoughts coming your way!

  7. Pingback: Face It « Dig Your Toes In

  8. What a powerful post. So honest and I can imagine not too easy to write and share. The necessity of medication for an illness is nothing to be ashamed of at all. I applaud you for seeking help and taking it.

    Hugs and prayers and best wishes and everything good…that’s what I’m sending your way.

    Also, know that your post will be helpful to many women suffering with depression who have yet to admit and confront it.

  9. Oh Val, I feel the same way about my oldest. Like I never got to really see him because I, too, was wrapped in so much grief. I often remark, though, that if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed. Finally, I find someone who GETS it. Remember you are on your first step towards healing. You’re going to be able to see your daughters very soon. Be kind to yourself. You are not alone in this!

  10. I know it’s tough. I did the same, trying to recover from an unfortunate childhood, before realizing I needed to deal with the fact that I could barely convince myself to get out of bed in the mornings. Thank goodness I didn’t have kids. I was hardly fit to be a human being at the time, much less a mother.

    There is absolutely no shame in not being able to handle things as we think we should. The world has gotten insane, and the pressures we deal with as military spouses becomes more ridiculous every year.

    It’s a paradigm shift, but if the Zoloft gives you that tiny bit of strength you need to move into a happier frame of mind, then it’s worth it. If I hadn’t been prescribed Wellbutrin almost ten years ago, I’m not sure I’d be here now. Before I started down the path to recovery, I didn’t even realize the grass was green because everything had been washed in shades of dirty gray.

  11. Praying that the medication will help you find your way to joy again. One of my favorite songs is “My Glorious” by Delirious?. My favorite line is “And all you ever do is change the old for new.” God is exactly who He says He is. I believe He’s right there with you, and your family, ready to change out the old for something glorious.


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