Posted on February 17, 2011


My mom said, “Get your bathing suit on and get in the car.” She knew. And she wasn’t going to put up with my mood if she could do something about it. She drove me to the beach down the road. I climbed down the wall and swam for about an hour. Alone. No one else was in the water. But in that hour I was transformed. Cleansed. My mother knew. But she had no idea of the depth of my suffering.

Periods of darkness started creeping in when my hormones woke up in my teens. I’d sit in my room, dreading the cloud that would weigh me down for days. No one knew. But I’d feel it coming. And there was nothing I could do about it. When I noticed the pattern I was confused. How could nothing have changed in my world, but everything feel so black? I had thoughts of suicide. That would make me cry for hours because I really had a good life. I just hated the darkness.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I noticed that I had the energy to run long distances, through the woods during gym class. I loved “hitting the wall” and getting “high” enough to run forever. I went back to ballet around that time and couldn’t get enough of it. Nothing could keep me from class. I became one of those who did nothing in moderation. Years later I’d go dancing at clubs with my sister and friends. I’d sweat and sweat until I felt refreshed. But no one guessed that it was just to feel “normal”.  But what a gift to discover that about myself! 

One obstetrician asked me how I was doing after I had my third child. No one REALLY wants to know. But I told her. “There are days when I want to walk down to the waters edge and then keep walking.” Her mood immediately changed. Red flag! Alert! This woman’s in trouble! But she just said, “You need to find some time for yourself.” No. I needed to MOVE! So, I’d put the baby in the backpack and the kids and I would go walking for hours every morning. Rain or shine.

Then it hit again when I was pregnant with my seventh child. One day, after weeks of feeling like crawling out of my skin and crying because my head was such a mess, I called my midwife and said,”You know those antidepressants you were talking about? I think it’s time.” So within hours I had a prescription for Prozac. I’m not stupid. I listen. I knew I had to take the meds for weeks, maybe months before I’d see a change. But after three days I was done. Maybe that shows my impatience. But something inside knew that antidepressants weren’t for me. Instead I read up on foods that were good for my brain, and hung on by my nails. Nothing got better. And nothing got worse. I was able to function normally. Thank goodness no one could see what was going on inside my head behind my smiles!

I don’t have many dark days anymore. I still have moments when I feel like there are two of me. One will see all the things that need to get done as well as all the fun stuff I want to do. The other “me” knows that if I don’t get up and put one foot in front of the other, mental and emotional tiredness will morph into physical fatigue. So, I always get up and do what’s in front of me. And I work hard. Waiting. Waiting for the shift in my brain and body.

Why is it this way for so many of us humans? I only have answers for me. The darkness can be so profound and all-encompassing that when it passes I can see and feel deeper. My artwork flourishes. I write more expressively. I enjoy little things like childrens’ pudgy hands that share energy from such pure, sweet spirits; toys left all over the front yard that whisper someone has felt joy here; or a phone call that breathes new life into my deflated spirit.

Honesty and laughter have saved me. Just because I don’t feel like myself sometimes doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the craziness and get a good chuckle about it with friends. Friends who know exactly what I’m talking about. And they seem as normal as I am!

Would I wish it away? There was a time when I would’ve. Not anymore. The patterns have taught me. Clouds come and go. Sometimes in the clouds there is nourishing rain.

Now I try to enjoy it.

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