Yesterday was a much better day, a fabulous day in fact. The boys were regulated and happy and I took some much needed me time and that helped put a lot of things in perspective. I had brunch with a friend, I ran some errands and then I went to therapy. Yes you read right, therapy, alone, for me and not for or with my children.
I have been seeing the same therapist on and off for 12 years, I have known her longer than I have known my husband or my children. She is good at what she does and having seen the same person for all these years makes everything easier to talk about because she understands how my past effects my parenting.
I started seeing her when I was in my first year of university. I was depressed, not oh my that is so sad depressed but like I think I should drive this car into a brick wall depressed. My depression came on suddenly and although there were a variety of reasons, once it started it knocked me on my ass with it's force. I spent days and days in bed, I did not eat, sleep or socialize at all. I got up, went to school and then went back to bed. It was a very dark time for me.
Looking back on that time in my life there are three things that kept me alive over that first 6 months, literally alive, my therapist who gave me her home number, anti-depressants and an online support group that I stumbled into one day. My therapist and that group of woman held my hand as I dealt with some of the hardest things I will ever face in my life. Those woman listened, reached out, they cared about me and made sure that if I felt like I was going to drive the car into a brick wall or down a bottle of pills that I called one of them first. It gave me the smallest glimmer of hope to know that I was never truly alone, that many people had walked this road before me and sadly many more would come after me. Those woman, strangers that I only knew on the Internet and on the phone saved me from the jumping off the edge more times than I care to count. They reached out because each and everyone of them had been in that dark place that I was in and they were willing to hold my hand until I saw the light again. I am still thankful for each and every one of them.
It took years for me to heal. I worked hard. I went to therapy, I took my meds each and everyday. I visited the world most annoying Doctor weekly and then monthly so that I could get more meds because for along time she would only let me have 7 days worth of pills at a time. I made new real in person friends, I put me first, I learned coping strategies and self care.
It was a very dark time in my life but it was a road that had to be walked. There was healing that needed to happen and until I spoke the words, until I acknowledged the feelings there was not going to be any healing. That time in my life is a large piece of the puzzle that makes up who I am now and how I chose to live my life.
The first year was the hardest. Looking back I can remember when there started to be a bit of light, when the hope started to return. After that first year I stayed on meds and in therapy for the next 5 years. Then one day I got out of bed and decided it was time to stop the meds and see if I could take on the big, big world on my own. If I had learned enough skills to deal with the chemical imbalances in my brain on my own. I was slowly weaned off the meds and I kept going to therapy because I needed it. I needed to talk about what was going on and how I was coping. I did cope, I saw the darkness but it did not return with the overwhelming force that it once had.
I was healing.
In fact I decided that I was going to take on the world and I left home and went to Asia by myself for 18 months. It was difficult but I coped and I had fun and I lived. There were days when I was sad and hid in my apartment but those days never turned into weeks and I knew to reach out and talk to people when I began to feel that way. For the first time in years I felt as though as I could do this, I could cope with life.
I came home from my time away, I got married, we adopted traumatized kids and the darkness returned. It did not happen all at once but it started to creep back into my days, slowly like a mist but it was definitely there. I was scared of being really depressed again so I reached out. I went back to regular therapy appointments, I found support in the Internet again and I began to take care of me as well as my family.
There are days when the darkness feels overwhelming but I continue to reach out. I am not ashamed. If one day I need to go back on medication then I will do that.
We do not talk about how very hard it can be to parent children from trauma, we do not talk about how that effects us as parents but we should. Because I was depressed before I look at the darkness from a different place now and I deal with it differently but I do not doubt for a minute that if this was the first time I experienced these feelings I would be completely overwhelmed by them. Instead I continue to see my therapist, we talk about me and about how I feel and right now that is enough to keep the darkness from taking over.
If you are walking in the darkness know that you are not alone, reach out and let someone hold you up because there is hope and it gets better.
You are not alone.