There are moments in life that seem mundane and inconsequential but viewed with the clarity of hindsight were in all actuality pivotal.
And this post is about my version of events from one of those moments in my life. It is about the guy who saved my life and refuses to take the credit for it. This guy.
Yep. That handsome, young goofball right there is a literal lifesaver. The one without a uniform or a cape. Just a guy who is a really good friend.
After I had my second child, I went into a fit of deep depression that started with sadness. It moved to anger and finally ended in horrible numbness. Hopelessness. Worthlessness. I never wanted to hurt my kids, but my husband and I were fair game. I managed to avoid him. And I lost my rudder. But it is hard to avoid yourself. There are only so many solutions left for things you can’t avoid.
The seed was planted.
At first, I needed to hang around whether I wanted to or not because nobody would ever love my kids the way I do.
I convinced myself that nobody would really care if I weren’t around.
But my kids needed me.
I lined up life insurance policies, keepsakes, bank accounts and paperwork. I wrote my daughter a letter. I organized the house so that my husband could find things.I started scoping out the most effective way to make it seem like an accident.
But my kids needed me.
I started to rationalize that they would do fine because they wouldn’t be old enough to remember me.
But they would never know how much I loved them.
I started thinking maybe they were better off without me. Maybe they needed a Mom who loved them enough to let them grow up without an insane, angry failure of a person as baggage. Maybe they needed a Mom that wasn’t so overwhelmed by their basic needs she literally couldn’t breath. Or maybe a Mom that didn’t forget how to do something as simple as put gas in the car.
I knew they were better off without me.
I set a time and day to execute my plan. I lined up a a time the kids would be with their Dad. I knew the place. I had the means. I was all set. Just waiting for go time.
I didn’t say a word to anyone. I was fine. I felt nothing.
He knew something was wrong. He sat down and he listened. And I fed him some BS about wanting to start the Couch 2 5K running program to lose the baby weight and “feel better.” I told him I felt fat and cow like and foggy (which I actually did).
He offered to do it with me. We settled on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at an outdoor park in July in the 100% humidity of a Tennessee summer. The unselfish significance of that offer was not lost on me. How do you say no to someone who is willing to go through that kind of hell to help you… even if they think it is just to help you loose weight? Damn him. He wasn’t smiling politely and avoiding the elephant in the room. He was going to take it for a jog.
One of those days that we agreed to was the date I had intended to execute my plan. But I went “running” that day instead. I think I still came pretty close to death “running” (a.k.a. stumbling, lurching, crawling) for the first time in years with sixty extra pounds of baby fat on a 90 degree day in 100% humidity. But the countdown had stopped at T-minus 96 hours.
This Guy nicely pointed out how illogical it was that I felt that way. He knew my husband was not Satan incarnate and gently suggested I call a therapist. He didn’t deny the fact of what I felt. He just suggested maybe there were contributing factors to the feelings that were outside my husband’s control and maybe even mine. He didn’t treat me like a loser, or a whiner, a drama queen, a charity case, an attention seeker or a crazy person. He didn’t roll his eyes. There was nothing shaming about the way he made the suggestion. He treated me like a normal person who just needed a little extra help. The therapist he convinced me to call diagnosed me with a long bout of depression that had started shortly before my daughter was born and gone unrecognized and untreated for about two years. Her feeling was that the post-partum had really just made an existing problem much, much worse. It had taken a long time to get where I was.
Between therapy, medication, and exercise, I started feeling human again.
I stopped hating my husband. I stopped believing that my kids would be better off without me. I stopped medication. I let the house get unorganized again because nobody was going to need to find anything. I stopped therapy because we felt like it was more important for me to go do those things with my kids that had been so overwhelming before. I kept running.
I stopped believing nobody cared. Because at least one somebody did, on a random Saturday when it really, really counted. And that singular moment that seemed so insignificant was pivotal.
Depression has a stigma. But it is nothing to be ashamed of. And it isn’t your fault.
There are people out there who will help. If you find yourself going down the road I did, please ask someone for help. You are not worthless. The world is not better off without you. Someone out there cares.