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Kelly Wickham is an assistant principal at a magnet school for technology in the Midwest. She authors Mocha Momma Has Something To Say for Babble and maintains a personal blog at Mocha Momma where she writes a lifestyle blog that includes personal stories about being a single mom, stories about race, and tales from her educational adventures. Originally from Chicago, Kelly lives in Springfield, IL with her boyfriend, The Cuban, and two of her four children.

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Walking on Eggshells

By Kelly Wickham |

I have something to say about tiptoeing around delicate issues of anxiety and depression.

I call shenanigans on it.

I am calling it on myself. Three of my four children are on medicine to keep it under control. And I firmly believe that my marriage deteriorated because my ex couldn’t accept that he suffered from it as well. That’s not mine to discuss as it’s his issue, but he certainly affects our sons when they periodically determine that they no longer need to take their medicine. By the time I recognized it in my ex, it was too late and in the midst of our marriage was falling apart I made the hardest phone call I can ever recall making. One day while I was off work and the children were downstairs playing, I went up to my bedroom and dialed the number of our primary physician. A nurse took my phone call and I explained to her that I wasn’t calling for myself. What I hoped to do was get some help for my husband. Halfway through the call when I was setting up an appointment for him I completely lost it.

photo credit to D. Sharon Pruitt, flickr

I mean the kind of losing it where you’re on the floor in a heap because you’ve sobbed yourself to the point where you can neither breathe nor speak. Instantly, my head began throbbing and I had to take off my glasses in order to wipe the tears from my face. The kids, I knew, were playing silently away from all this. No mother wants her babies to see her like this. Had they come and seen me like this I would have whisked them away or, at the very least, hurriedly wiped all traces of my heartache away. The nurse on the other end of my phone call just sat quietly waiting for me to stop. The room seemed still as she finally broke the silence.

“I know how hard this is. Do you know how many times a wife calls to make these appointments for her husband? I take a lot of calls just like this.”

Since that time I moved out and moved on with my life. I only tiptoe around it now as I try very hard not to mention it. Ever. My children all read the things I write.

But it was a mistake to ignore that for so long and to go on leading a normal married life. There’s not much I feel for my ex now unless it relates to our children and I’ve done pretty well when it comes to keeping unresolved matters to myself. But this isn’t about him or what he does or doesn’t do about it. It isn’t about my children and what they do or do not do about their own issues. It’s about how badly I want to figure out my own.

It’s about how I’m beginning to talk about what I think is wrong with me in a place (hello, Internet!) where it appears that it’s not only okay to have mental health issues but it’s freeing to talk about it. It’s about how incredibly tired I am of pretending like everything is fine or reaching for one more bit of energy so that I can stay strong.

I’m done being strong. That’s not even a real thing. Who, exactly, is really “strong” and can handle all the stuff that life throws at you? Or, in my case, the things that life HURLS at me?

Not me. Not anymore. It is time for someone else to take on the weight of the world. I’m ready to be much weaker than anyone has ever let me be especially considering the enormity of what is going on right now in my world.

So, no more tiptoeing. No more secrets about when I can no longer handle difficult times. No more pretending that I can handle it when I can’t. Rather, when I don’t want to handle it. How come everyone else gets to choose this and I don’t? Why put that much pressure on myself.

Why not just let the eggs crack and let other people help take care of me for a while? Why not indeed.

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About Kelly Wickham

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Kelly Wickham

Kelly Wickham is an assistant principal at a magnet school for technology in the Midwest. She authors Mocha Momma Has Something To Say for Babble and maintains a personal blog, Mocha Momma, that includes personal stories about being a single mom, stories about race, and tales from her educational adventures. Read bio and latest posts → Read Kelly's latest posts →

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6 thoughts on “Walking on Eggshells

  1. Cindy says:

    It’s called being your authentic self. Things are not ever (or are rarely) 100% right 100% of the time. I always tell my yoga students that it’s OK to do less. They think I’m talking about just yoga, but I’m not. It’s OK to step back and take a break and it’s OK to ask for help. That whole asking for help thing is my biggest struggle.

  2. kristiface80 says:

    I spent an evening like that on the floor of my bedroom crying silently into the carpet and decided in that moment that 1) separating from my husband was the right decision (I moved out the next day, actually) and 2) I needed a good therapist. This was after I had accepted that I needed anti-anxiety/depression medication. The combination of those three things (medicine, a divorce, and a good therapist) changed my life and made me more of the kind of person I am and want to be. What was amazing to me in the next year or two, was that I discovered that almost all of the women in my life– my good friends, at my age– had taken or were taking medication and were/are in therapy.

    It’s hard to admit and take action when you’re dealing with depression. In part it’s the social stigma. In part it’s one of problems created by the disease. But definitely take the momentum and energy that comes with those first days of having decided to do something and run with it.

    Way to be brave!

  3. Tricia says:

    Brave lady. Brava!

  4. The New Cinders says:

    Fair play! I get 100% what you mean about not pretending. I have even been asked by my work to pretend I don’t suffer with depression and anxiety. I have really struggled to not let well-meaning advice influence me to make bad choices – don’t take tablets/push through and get on with it/we all feel the same.

    Until it is widely accepted as something ordinary, people who suffer with it are always going to struggle because the help and acceptance is inconsistent, badly informed and too infrequent to be reliable.

  5. Tricia says:

    You’ve spoken out for so many women (and men) who are tired of facades. Tired of pretending that it’s easy, that depression doesn’t suck the life out of you while the rest of life keeps coming at you anyway. I applaud you for speaking the truth. Any time I’ve tried to talk about depression and it’s effect on my life, to my family, it’s like I, and the depression issue are invisible. Many of my friends don’t know how to react either. I wish people would become educated on how hard it is to keep walking, as well as dealing with all the other life stuff that will always keep coming. I feel for you and have gone through the house thing. Bank of America should be ashamed of itself (of course it never will band people don’t matter anymore. You have readers here that you will help with this post and people who may seek help because of it. For that, I thank you. Depression is something that is so misunderstood and when you’re battling with it, it cannot be explained to people who don’t get it, except by educating them.

    And if we all admitted how we struggle, how so NOT perfect our lives were, we’d find it easier to reach out to others without fear of judgement. Take your story with BoA to the press. Get it published. It’s the only language they speak – a woman just started a movement against their five dollar debit card fees and won. They collected a whole lot of very bad publicity and were forced to give in. If we all speak out, each of us, they can be beaten. But, the entire process sucks.

    Hugs to you today. I appreciate your words.
    Tricia

  6. Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says:

    Good for you! I so know what it feels like to be married to someone with depression. It is so difficult to walk on eggshells all the time, to not know what your day is going to hold. I get it. Luckily, my husband welcomes the medicine and rejects the stigmas as he knows that this is not something he chose or something he can control on his own.

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