October 24, 2012

Pulse Check

Ellie contemplates her morning smoothie.
Boy, does she look wrecked.

Remember how my last post was all about finding meaning in the loss, and it wrapped up with a nice sweet statement about a butterfly?  Well, a lot of life has happened since then.  And life can be awfully hard to boil down into a few words for a blog post.  So I'll just go a little stream of consciousness for a while:

The day after the big 6 month milestone, I was an absolute disaster.  Could not stop crying to save my life.  Finally had to break down and ask for help from the sweet women around me.  Women I didn't yet know well enough to let them see all the cracks, to feel comfortable with them seeing me so broken.  But like it or not - I couldn't hold it together anymore.

So they came, they took my children for the day while I slept and cried on the couch with an intensity that rivaled that very first night when my world came tumbling down.  Such a release was just what I needed for so many feelings and anxieties that had built up since moving here.   And then I took a deep breath and thought, "OK - moving on.  Time to get back to normal life."

Had a trip to the city recently.  It was great to see friends - so very wonderful.  And exciting to have so many photo shoots.  But taking a work trip with kids and without a husband is a recipe for disaster.  (as is sleep deprivation, the ill-timed menstrual experience, 7 friends in a 1 bedroom apartment for 9 days, and the observation of what would have been Mom's 43rd birthday)

Well.  When I write it out like that - it's no wonder I was a mess.  I wanted so badly for this trip to fix all of my woes.  Wanted the familiarity of friends and neighborhoods to cure my pain.  Instead I cried on the phone to Joe - like a kid at summer camp.  "I want to come home."  

That need to come home - it's such a recurring theme in my heart.
Wanting to be taken care of.
Wanting to feel safe.

It wasn't until midway through my NYC trip that I realized - Oh, I'm still depressed.  I prefer to talk about my depression in the past tense.  Something I experienced and left behind.  But it's not so.

In the time since my last post I've had multiple trips in and out of this gloom.  I haven't written because I keep waiting for it to be over.  I like to tell a story with a moral.  I like to know the end.  It's difficult to chronicle my life on the blog because it doesn't translate so well into these black and white words.  It's gray right now. Constantly shifting.  I feel as though I don't move along the same linear track as the people around me.  It's a little disconcerting, but I'm learning to accept it.

I'm trying to just be.

Still, my mind is never quiet.  I'm constantly composing in my head.  Searching for the meaning in this experience.  Sometimes words too raw to share here spill onto the pages of my journal.  Sometimes laughter wells up at the sight of my girls.  Sometimes tears follow my happiest thoughts. Everything is poignant these days.

I still have a sense of humor, too - it's just not as funny to other people these days.  Even in my deepest despair however, I think I am hilarious.

There are lots of things I want to write about:
 - the way that this grief has changed me - in ways I don't want to forget or forsake when the fog of sadness is lifted
- that you should never send a depressed girl to Target because all she can commit to is brownie mix and candles
- the flexible and unsteady nature of my faith.  The feeling that this experience completely hollowed out all of the things I had built up to be my belief system.  The way that this stripping process felt so meaningful at first, so full of promise that God would fill me with something better - but now it just feels empty.
- how hard it can be to wait on God
- how freeing it is to love without judgement
- how good it feels to talk kindly to myself (I hope everyone reading this practices a gentle inner dialogue)
- how kind and long-suffering my dear Joe continues to be
- all the books I've started and stopped.  (as much as I believe in the cause, I just can't read about the impending doom of climate change - not right now)
- when am I going to write that post about how to help a grieving friend?  I guess when I figure out how to define that exactly.
- that giving up cooking was the best choice I made for my mental health.  Who knew baked chicken nuggets and green beans from a microwave bag could be so good for you?
- the way it feels so good to give up all those unimportant things.  My list of important things (though it changes daily) is so much shorter than it once was.

Well, I guess I've written it all down now.  Sorry that it's not pretty or coherent or rife with meaning.  But it means something to me.  I think one of the reasons we suffer is so that one day we can occupy a comfortable place for someone else who is suffering.  I'm leaving these words here tonight (against my better judgement to hold the delete key), as a testament to the process I am going through to become that kind of person.  The path is murky and confusing as hell to navigate.  But I think that's where I am - and I haven't given up on the person I could become on the other side of this grief.

Also, please don't send the rescue teams after me.  The house is clean, the kids are clean and fed and snuggled and read to.  I am functioning - just differently than I used to.  Definitely more honestly than I ever have.  It might look like a cry for help, but it's not.  Just a desire to let you see me as I am.
(photographic proof of the well being of my lovies)


  1. Whitney,
    Being strong in depression is so hard. I would love to tell you that one day it will all just fly away, but it doesn't. It becomes a part of your functioning in so many ways. You illustrate beautifully how depression changes you, for bad and for good. Thank you for being strong and learning to thrive the way that you are. You will learn volumes about you and others in this experience. From someone that lives with depression too, it won't go away but it also won't always be gray. Have faith and take care of yourself, it sounds like you already are.

  2. Oh Whitney- my lady you have such a way with words! you make me cry while laughing. I love you, and I hope that time can help heal you wounds. Just let your little ones lift you. You are in our hearts and prayers!

  3. Even in your dark moments you continue to be an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing with us a piece of your journey and learning. Thank you for reminding me always to focus on the most important things and to remember that I don't have to be everything to everyone. I love you my dear friend.

  4. you, being real and honest, are so beautiful. and your girls are just as beautiful as you.

  5. This entry has been in my Google Reader and "Marked as Unread" like, four times. Meaning, I've read it four times and wanted to read it again, so I clicked that little box. You are a tangible evidence of strength—reach out and touch someone, girl!

    And I can't remember if I've said this before (just kidding), but your girls melt my ever-loving heart. I can't stop looking at their beautiful faces.

  6. Beautiful little girls you have there. I love your candidness. Here's to your continuing progress, in whatever direction you take it :).

  7. "Even in my deepest despair however, I think I am hilarious." Someday I will write my memoirs and I will totally steal this line for at least a chapter heading, if not the title.

    From my own experience, it is hard to feel close to the Lord while going through depression. It's the nature of the beast: things that had given hope are still there, but are different. It's like the model house from Arrested Development- the TV on the hutch looks real, but it's really just a hollow box where you keep the cereal out of sight from buyers. Some times you have to base your knowledge on old feelings rather than current ones. It's hard.

    I'm really glad that you have people around you to lend a hand, and that you called them. I think behind every tragedy are a great deal of people who want to help, but don't know how to or feel awkward offering it. I really think that one day, when your girls are older and more able to understand the complexity of emotions like these, they are going to see how hard you are trying and be rather proud of you. Just like a lot of us are.

    Love you, Whit.

  8. Life and grief and death and faith are messy. We can pretend and desire that they fit neatly into our boxes but when the box is completely opened, you see the dustballs and messy piles as they really are. And they're a beast.

    Keep moving. God is there. Sometimes it's hard to see through the tears in our eyes and the feelings in our heart. Give God time to work. Give yourself time to work. Yes, this shall pass. But you will be different. A good different.

    In the meantime, I still think you're hilarious. I bet your girls do too.

  9. Beautiful post, Whitney. Slogging through depression is tough. Can I say you ARE hilarious though? Hearing your stories at girls night was such a highlight for me. So great to see you. Makes me happy that you have friends to turn to up there during these moments. Keep writing.