At this moment two thousand, nine hundred and twenty two days ago I was waking up to a new life. A second chance. At the time: a painful, empty, sad second chance.
I really don’t have anything new to say about that day; I’ve said it all. I talked about that day, detailing hour by hour my recall of how everything happened in the post I wrote on the one year anniversary in 2012 – “One“. I’ve talked about the emotions, the depression and anxiety, and the PTSD aftermath. I’ve also talked about finding the beauty and preciousness in losing him, how it changed me and my faith and made me appreciate my rainbow babies and the life I’ve worked so hard to have.
This year, his 8th Angelversary, isn’t just about reflecting on another year gone by without him. Not this time. This year took me out of my own body and forced me to look down and really see the work that needs to be done on myself – for myself and my family: for me to see myself for who I am and not for who I tell people I am. I’m looking back on a day in 2011 that isn’t just about who we lost but also about the beginning of a journey that I had no clue how to navigate by myself.
Every year since 2011 has seemed hard in its own way, some harder than others.
Every year has had its highs and lows, some more extreme than others.
Every year has graciously provided another 365 days to work on emotional healing, becoming physically healthier, and to relish and appreciate the experience of being a mom to my two miracles.
Every year until 2019 have been years that I showed the side of me that I wanted people to see and hid the parts of me that I wouldn’t admit were still there. Year after year it got harder. Year after year, I said I could do it and that I could see past the clouds when they rolled in. Year after year, life outside my home began to feel like groundhog day; I grew less and less willing to venture out of my safety zone. I’ve spent three solid years (2017, 2018, and most of 2019) struggling, fighting to accept the fact that I need more than a pill every morning and a counseling session once a month to make me better, to somehow get back to the “me” underneath all the trauma. I’ve never had a problem saying that I need counseling, or that I need antidepressants or anxiety medication, or that I need support from friends and family; I never had a problem pointing a finger at what I thought would fix me and claiming that it was what I needed. This year I finally said what I have needed to say for 8 years but have never had the guts to say. Crying in my doctor’s office one day this summer, I finally gave up the control of trying to figure out what would “fix” me. Instead, I pointed to myself and said:
I’m not okay. Help me.
What has happened to me this year is it’s own story, which I still haven’t said much about and still am not ready to. However I will say that every ounce of pride I have been clinging to these years, every lid on every emotional well, was smashed to smithereens. I had nothing left and no energy to fabricate a new mask to wear. I had no choice but to finally say “I’m not okay”; not just in a moment of desperation or depression, or while in one of the “valleys” I often experienced a few times a year. It was recognizing that this was the time, my chance to be honest with myself and with them, my circle; despite all that I have been given and how wonderful and beautiful my life is, no matter how many “good” days I have between the not-so-good… I am not mentally healthy. I had also slowly began losing my faith without even realizing it.
So I brought down the walls I’ve been building for 7 years in order to show the people who can help me, the people who will help me, what this really looks like. It isn’t pretty, friends. It’s raw, uncomfortable, inconvenient, annoying, stubborn, and ugly: it’s the truth.
The truth is that at times I’ve felt like I don’t deserve my children or my husband, that I don’t deserve friends who care no matter how I push them away, and that I don’t deserve to feel any different because I honestly didn’t know that I could. I thought that this was what depression was – having good weeks and bad weeks which turned to good months and bad months, then progressed into two years of more bad than good. The truth is that the storms I used to see coming were now permanently isolated directly above me and I had no desire to look for the sun anymore. You would never know that, though, because I never wanted to appear weak or show doubt in my ability to push forward. I wanted to be the person that said “I can do this” and show the world that I could. I forgot that I used to be a person who said “God did this” instead of “I did this on my own”.
I wanted to tell people that the “clouds” of depression would sometimes appear, but then promise that they were temporary and would pass. I wanted anyone who read my words to always have hope and never give up, and I felt like the truth would eradicate that credibility. I couldn’t stand the thought of saying any of how I really felt.
The truth is that I didn’t believe my own words anymore.
I made “I’m doing good” into a daily mask to wear and I wore it like a professional actress. After all, if I shared the truth about how I was doing I would have to expose all the reasons I had to feel that way – despite all the reasons that I have to not feel that way.
Once my inner circle, my doctors and care team, found out how much I was struggling and how much I needed help, they took matters into their own hands; I am so very thankful for that. I’m thankful for the relief that the nakedness has brought, although it certainly hasn’t been any easier (yet). I can no longer say “I’m doing okay” and walk out of any of their offices undetected. My primary doctor, my therapist, my surgeon, and specialists have all said that “okay” is no longer acceptable. If something feels wrong, emotionally or otherwise, not a single one of them will shrug their shoulders and say “it’s just normal to feel this way sometimes”. They know what I’ve been through and they have made me feel so secure in knowing I can go to them with the truth, whether it’s at my check-in once a month or if I need them once a week. I thank God for each of them, for that support and that care. I thank God for telling me that day to stop pretending and admit I couldn’t handle any of this alone, because once I admitted that, everything and everyone that I needed began to show up and fall into place.
I’m looking forward to this new path I’m on, to the treatment and help I’ve finally allowed to be part of my life. I don’t know if I’ll write about it regularly right now or if I’ll even be active on social media in the immediate future – I’ve learned that I can’t make empty promises to myself that potentially lead to disappointment and frustration. There’s so much I want to do, so much I will do – I just don’t know when.
And that’s okay.
If you are struggling and don’t feel heard by the people around you, healthcare related or otherwise, let them go and find the ones who will. That doesn’t mean that these individuals who don’t hear what you’re saying or understand your needs are bad people – it just means they aren’t the right ones to surround yourself with. The right people are out there and it might take trial and error to find them but you have to commit to that search, for yourself and for your family. You might feel right now like you don’t have an ounce of energy left to embark on the search for the right ones but once you do, once you let go and admit that you need more than what you have, you will find each other.