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

By Lori Garcia |

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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About Lori Garcia

mommyfriend

Lori Garcia

Lori Garcia is a writer and mother of two living and loving in Southern California. When she's not fussing with her bangs, you can find her shaking her groove thing on her personal blog, Mommyfriend where she almost never combines true tales of motherhood and mayhem with her degree in child development. Read bio and latest posts → Read Lori's latest posts →

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17 thoughts on “Secret Sadness: My Battle With Depression and Anxiety [Part I]

  1. Debi says:

    Oh, sweet Lori, we find our salvation in the most unexpected places. I found mine at a gynecologist .Im glad you could talk to someone,I’m sorry I didn’t know you then.I hope you know that if you ever find yourself tumbling again, please reach out my friend, I will throw you a Mommy life preserver:) xo

    1. mommyfriend says:

      Thank you Debi XO.

  2. sarah bregel says:

    lori, am glad to read this very personal story on here, NOT glad for your struggle, of course. i recently started talking with a therapist about similar issues. my daughter was diagnosed with a rare illness at 8 weeks old and we stayed in the hospital for 2 weeks. it was the most traumatic experience ever, thinking i might lose her and being a brand new anxiety-ridden mother. i don’t know why over the next two years, i struggled with heart palpitatioins, with the intrusive thoughts and constant fear, and i never got help. now, talking with the therapist, it’s clear that i was struggling on my own with some PTSD. it’s so hard to want to get help at that point, though. i just remember feeling like i just have to get through it. i didn’t want to be a wimp. i had a beautiful, healthy baby, but everything was SO hard. thanks so much for sharing this. hopefully it will give others the strength to seek help when they need it.

    1. mommyfriend says:

      Oh Sarah, ((((((HUGS)))))). To this day I don’t know if I was dealing with PPD or PTSD or both. All I know is that it was so, so scary. Your comment brought tears to my eyes because I deeply understand. To brighter days ahead Sarah.

  3. Melissa says:

    I have tears in my eyes…because I have been there. Instead of a sore throat, my neck and back ached like I was dying…everyday and my menstrual cycle was all over the place too. I thought I was happy, why wouldn’t I be, I was a Stay-at-home-mom and had two beautiful children. I went to the doctor one day out of breath, shaky, and in pain. I had all the tests done…no I wasn’t dying, then what?? I too went home with anxiety medication and then later low dose antidepressant. Even now I still feel the need to say “LOW DOSE” as if that helps. Fast forward almost a year feeling like myself again but worried that I’ll never be off the meds. Thank you for your very candid and familiar story. You are fantastic!!

  4. Amanda Hayes says:

    Please don’t feel alone, Sarah. There are so many of us out there who have been where you are! And many of us have ended up trying medication (in my case, after a couple years of therapy and unproductive resistance)… so don’t feel like a failure! Use it to even out those waves, then slooooowly get rid of it (which is where I am right now, scary but it seems to be working). The depression is not you, and you are not it. This too shall pass. Keep strong, and ask for help – it’s out there. xx

  5. Digital Molly says:

    This needs to be said. Thanks for your transparency! HUGS girly!

  6. Amy @mommetime says:

    OH wow… you are the first person that has ever mentioned period related problems associated with depression…. OHMYGAWD…. me too! I just talked to my doctor about it TODAY, and was given some information to research and then I come across this… you are the first person! I was really freaking out about it.I am grateful that you shared your experience. I know from personal experience how debilitating depression is, I am very sorry that you’ve experienced it. Thank You. Thank You. so very much for sharing!

  7. Nichole says:

    Sending you love.
    I admire you so much, Lori. This is just another example of why you are such an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Alyssa S says:

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. I’ve never experienced that kind of profound depression but more than one person in my family has been diagnosed with clinical depression. For some, it took a lot of pushing for them to get help. I’m so glad you asked for it yourself and I hope to read more about your recovery.

  9. SoCalledGeek says:

    You’re not the only one. I’ve battled both with depression and anxiety my whole life. My take is that the anxiety (Type A with a vengance) conjures up the depression when I can’t live up to my own perfect and un-reachable expectations.

    A cycle… but the thing is, it’s OK and there’s nothing wrong with taking medication…. because really, it does help. :)

  10. Linda says:

    You certainly aren’t alone in all of this. I had my kids early and battled anxiety during the entire time I raised them. Of course I was involved in every aspect of their lives, in church, school and sports. Keeping busy kept me busy and kept my mind busy.

    I’d had migraines for years and in 1988 my neurologist wanted me to have a test using a new machine they had called an MRI which would show him more of what was causing my headaches. I wish I hadn’t. I was sent to Georgetown University and saw my neurologist’s former teacher who was now in research. He studied the pictures and made me push and pull and walk and told me very simply that I had Multiple Sclerosis. There was no cure, no treatment, no idea of what causes it, no way to prognose it’s future because it affected everyone differenly, With that, he told me to put it in the back of my mind and forget about it until I had another central nervous system problem. PUT IT AWAY?

    My depression did get worse and I ended up having an emergency hysterectomy because like you, my period never stopped. Since then, it’s been downhill all the way. I fight, but it doesn’t go away. You don’t look sick and people laugh at you when you slur your words or can’t remember what you were saying midsentence. I trip and fall often – I broke 4 bones last year and fell down the stairs 3 times. No one understands, even my family.

    My family ran like I was on fire when they found out I had MS. I told them they couldn’t catch it, but I could embarass them. Oh heavens, they would have friends over and I would embarass them.

    Sometimes I don’t get out of bed for months except to go to the doctor. I am so sad all of the time. My children and grandchildren are my only salvation, but they live in different states.

    You are not alone. This happens to so many people. I go in circles, get help, get out and start living life again and MS hits me with another huge exacerbation landing me in bed. In 2008 I had Breast Cancer.

    It never stops. And my family never returned. That hurts most of all. I taught my children that a family’s love is unconditional. Then I got sick and they ran like there was no tomorrow.

    All I can do is pray and hope that somehow, somewhere I’ll find the purpose God has for me

    Walking always helped, but I am having problems with several herniated and burst disks in my back, and something called periformis syndrome where a nerve threads through a muscle in my hip and is pressed to where I can’t feel my toes and there is much pain in my leg.

    I didn’t mention the lazy left ventricle in my heart. One thing after another.

    If I didn’t have faith in the Lord, I don’t know what I’d do.

    Stay strong, keep the faith and know that you are not alone.

  11. Johanna says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this Lori! Although I’ve had depression since I was young, my day of reckoning for anxiety came in February of 2001. It has been a long journey, including medication (off and on twice). I even made the questionable decision to stay on my meds during pregnancy and nursing because I wanted to be at my best for my son. Medication is there to keep you alive and functioning so you can deal with the root problems in other ways, IMHO. Know you’re not alone and will always have support!
    @SOCALLEDGEEK: I like your take on anxiety. My thought was always that my depression caused my anxiety because it wanted me to do something about it!!! Maybe it goes the other way too? Thanks!

  12. Alison says:

    Congratulations to you for finally getting help. However, I have to say your last line was not only disturbing but offensive. So what you’re on medications, that doesn’t mean you’re weak or a lesser person. It means you’re a person at a stage in life who needs help. There’s no shame in getting help, even if it comes in the form of a non-addictive medication.

    1. mommyfriend says:

      Alison, I understand where you are coming from, but please understand that I was writing from my frame of mind in that very moment. If you read Part II of the story (click on the “To be continued…”), you’ll see how those medications were the very thing that brought me back to me. I’m a believer in the power and benefit of proper medication. I needed it. There is no shame.

  13. heather says:

    bless your heart, ive been there and struggle with depression and anxiety everyday.

  14. Mlg says:

    U definetly aren’t alone. N I battled a long time before my wonderful mnth old.

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