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Secret Sadness: My Battle With Depression and Anxiety [Part I]

Dark times

Motherhood wasn’t at all what I expected.

When Boy Wonder was rushed into emergency surgery on his bowel at 11 days old, anxiety burrowed deep beneath my flesh. In that days and tests that followed, I began to unravel; thread after dangerous thread.

While anxiety wasn’t entirely new for me, up until this point I’d managed to channel nervous energy into personal motivation. My Type-A personality was just one of those silly quirks friends liked to poke fun at. It seemed harmless, even laughable.

But this kind of anxiety was different. Picture standing at the shoreline your entire life, playing in low tides. Sure, every once and awhile a strong tide would come in but you’d never once lost contact with the receding sand beneath your toes. Then suddenly on your most regular day as you stand in the same spot you always have, a high tide comes in and drags you head-first underwater. You’re tumbling, tumbling, tumbling as you desperately search for the sweet spot above the water’s surface. If you could only catch your breath. Heart racing; panic ignited.

These tidal waves of panic began to happen regularly. As I’d emerge gasping for air, the sadness would set in. Oh sweet sadness, how comfortable you began to feel as my low tide.

Why had no one told me, really told me, how hard this would be?

Motherhood made me feel like a sucker. If I had known motherhood would have conjured this kind of reaction in me, I doubt I would have been up for the challenge.

Where the hell was my joy? My beloved child was everything I wished and prayed for. I loved him so very much; maybe even too much. His unexpected health issues served as a painful reminder that I couldn’t protect him for everything. I didn’t know how to take a breath. All I did know was that I was losing. Losing myself. Losing control. Losing.

2004 was the year it all came crashing down. I hated my corporate job. I battled strep throat for the better part of 9 months. My period lasted 21-24 days out of every month. I was exhausted, sad, thin, and hopeless. I pulled away from my friends for the better part of a year, but learned when I had to, I was pretty good at faking happy. Who was I if not the happy and strong Lori I’d always been?

On New Year’s Eve 2004, we gathered at a friend’s house to celebrate and I put on my best happy face. I wondered if people could see the sadness in my eyes. I wondered if anyone would ask how I was. I wondered if I would dare tell them the truth.

But who was I to feel sad when people were really hurting? I hated myself for feeling this way. As I toasted the new year with my friends, I said a silent prayer to feel better — even if only for one day. Just one day to feel like myself again.

The following day I awoke to an all too familiar sore throat; I guessed it was time to return to urgent care.

The doctor sat me down and asked me what was wrong. As the words, “My throat hurts” spilled out of my mouth, I began to sob deep sobs of retribution for every “happy” lie and pretend smile I’d faked over the last year. I grasped at the stranger doctor as if he was my only hope in this big scary world. “Help me,” I whispered through deep apologetic sobs.

We talked at length about my throat, my menstrual cycle, and my secret sadness. I was tired of losing.

I walked into the doctor’s office for a sore throat and walked out with antidepressants. “Great,” I thought, “Now I’m one of those moms; the medicated kind.”

To be continued…

Have you battled depression and anxiety?

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