The Symptom of Depression We Don’t Talk About

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You may think you know a lot about depression.

You know people with depression can feel sad and empty much of the time, have changes in appetite or sleeping habits, be fatigued, have decreased feelings of pleasure in things that would normally bring them joy and possibly even have thoughts of death and dying. But the one symptom of depression you probably don’t know about, and one of the hardest ones to deal with, is loneliness.

People thrive on connection. Even most introverts need to be social with small groups or one-on-one. But when I feel depressed, I can’t motivate myself to make or keep plans, to leave the house, or sometimes even to get showered and dressed. But this doesn’t mean I don’t want company. In contrast, I want company so badly it’s
actually painful. But I’m afraid to ask. I know I’m a bother to people, and I
know I’m not any fun to spend time with because I’m always sad and have a hard
time enjoying the things I used to love.

I feel guilty for wanting that company, for needing to have somebody around.

When I get severely depressed, I long for somebody to talk to, somebody who will
understand and not judge me. But I can’t seem to open my mouth and ask for the
help I need. I get trapped in my own brain, and I can hear myself screaming, but, unfortunately, nobody can read my mind. The more depressed I get, the more I isolate from the outside world, and the less motivation I have to reach out to people. But this is really the time I most need someone to see me, truly see what is going on, and reach out to me.

It’s sad the symptoms of depression can drive so many friends away, because of the stigma of depression, or because they don’t understand, or are scared, or don’t know how to help, or are busy and can’t be bothered. Because sometimes the best way to reach a depressed friend or loved one is to simply spend time with him or her, doing whatever he or she feels up to doing. Even if that’s just an evening on the
couch with Netflix, or bringing over coffee or dinner, just showing that you care for your friend can help him or her start to feel better. Even if your friend doesn’t seem to hear your words of reassurance and comfort, there still can be a benefit to your presence. It always helps to know that somebody else cares, to hear love expressed in a genuine way.

Love expressed by other people can help me so much when I’m depressed. It reminds me I’m worthy of such love, and can push me a little bit closer to working on the self-love that will pull me out of the depression. So if you do have a friend or loved one who is depressed, please remember, it is so important to spend time with him or her. Depression is a disease of loneliness, and connection with other people makes all the difference in recovery.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us a story about a time you encountered a commonly held misconception about your mental illness. How did you react, and what do you want to tell people who hold his misconception? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

What’s one misconception about your mental illness you want to see busted? Tell us in the comments below.

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When Depression Is Like Being Stuck in a Winter Jacket

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My facade is like a thick winter parka. The depression and anxiety I’ve suffered from have zipped me up in this down jacket to protect me from the storms that come and go in my life.

At first, the jacket is nice and warm, and I put it on when it just starts getting cold outside. I tell myself it’s just a preemptive measure. I’d rather be safe than sorry. Sometimes, I think, do I really need this big clunky coat? I could probably do with less? But then the big storm hits. As a New Englander, it is in my blood to prepare for winter storms. We hunker down with our snacks and our board games in case the power goes out. We make sure we have a good book to read, a reliable shovel on hand and our trusty winter parka always hanging on the hook by the door. When the real storm hits, we are ready to face it head on.

When the snow finally starts to fall and the power goes out, I am left with no choice but to wear that jacket inside. But I don’t mind. That jacket has seen me through some tough times. It has all sorts of pockets where I can hide things, I really don’t even need to speak to anyone else if I didn’t want to. It zips up past my chin so I can tuck my face inside when the wind blows. The hood even comes all the way over my eyes so my entire face is covered when the ice whips into my cheeks. The jacket is long to my knees and is the perfect length and thickness that when I need to walk around outside, I am still a little agile and can move freely in it. I never feel restricted in my winter jacket.

The jacket has memories like a time capsule. It has some ski passes still on the zipper, and last years old hand warmer in the pocket. I know when I put my jacket on I am protected from all of the elements that are out there. Snow, sleet or rain, I will stay dry and warm inside my coat. During some of the worst storms, I trust my coat with my life.

But as it always does, sometimes a little later, sometimes a little earlier, spring always comes back in New England, even when we thought the winter would never end. There is still a little snow on the ground that reminds me of the past few months, but against all odds crocuses pop up through the white ice. The birds come back in the yard, and the sun starts to shine through the windows again. I can go outside without the wind burning my eyes and I am so relieved the cold and blustery storms have ended. Spring is always like a fresh start, and I love that I always feel like I am being reborn.

When I step outside I can feel the sun on my face and it feels warm and beautiful. Even the slight breeze has lost its bite. I soon realize I am sweating inside my big winter parka. I am always grateful when it is cold, but when the sun comes back out I know that it is time to put it back into its storage box, and say goodbye until next time. The problem is, my zipper always seems to get stuck. All the way at the top the zipper is jammed and I can not free myself from the heavy jacket. At first, I think I can tolerate it’s weight and it’s warmth. But eventually, I always feel like it is holding me back. I want to feel the sun on my arms and tan my Irish skin. I want to wear bright colors and go to the beach with my friends. But the jacket will not come off. I try to maneuver my way out of it by pulling it over my head, but it is as if the jacket has shrunk and I no longer have any wiggle room inside. The high neck that used to bring me comfort now scratches me below the chin, and the hood that saved me from the wind is blocking my view of this beautiful change of season.

Every time the storm passes I am still stuck in my facade. When I brace myself for the storms of my mind, I show everyone I am safe and protected by portraying I am comfortable and warm in my jacket. I keep to myself and hunker down. I know the storm will pass, and eventually I can let myself out of the jacket. But the jacket has become comfortable, a part of me, almost fused to my body. Even when I know I can be myself again and take the coat off, that I don’t need to cover my face to hide the sadness, I still do. The facade I put on is what the world sees for most of the time. They see a small girl who is ready to take on a big challenge. A girl who is over prepared and anticipating the worst.

But in reality, I am often sweating inside that winter jacket wishing I could just take it off. Most of the time I’m really just looking for people who know how to pull my hood down for me, help me roll up my sleeves, and know how to unjam the zipper. I’m looking for people who know I may not take the jacket all the way off, but I will at least let a cool spring breeze in, and let the sun hit my face. I’m looking for people who are not embarrassed to be seen with me on the beach while I am still wearing my winter jacket. Everyone like me, who wears their winter jacket year round, who has on a facade to protect themselves from the storms of their mind, need people in their lives to remind them it’s OK to expose themselves to the beauty of the world and not to fear the next storm that will come.

So help someone unjam their jacket, and show them springtime.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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'You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide': When Exercise Can’t Outsmart Depression

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A few years ago I met with a new personal trainer at my gym. I’d recently run a marathon and a handful of half marathons, but without any upcoming races, I was having trouble sticking to a workout schedule. At least, that’s what I told him. We spent the first 20 minutes of the meeting laughing about the worst workouts/exercises we’ve paid to do, and then we verbally went through my medical history.

“Any injuries?” No. “Heart disease?” No. “Diabetes?” No. “Depression?” Silence.

As I started to nod my head yes, he’d already started filling out an answer on his clipboard. “I’m going to go ahead and guess no,” he laughed. “You seem pretty upbeat.”

I’d been ready to tell him the reason I was sitting in that room was because I needed help. For weeks (months?) all I’d wanted to do was sleep. And eat. I couldn’t motivate myself to work out. Every day felt like wading through a fog, and my limbs felt like they were battling quicksand. I couldn’t remember what those endorphins from running felt like.

I wouldn’t tell him about the crying. The loop running through my mind that I was a disappointment, worthless, unlovable and deserved to be unhappy. I wouldn’t tell him that sometimes my brain tried to convince me it would be easier if I just weren’t here.

So I said nothing. I’d been assigned the role of the happy, lighthearted client, and I was going to play that role for him. I’d show up at 5:45 for our 6:00 a.m. sessions, and I’d fake being wide awake and energetic. I’d complete any sets without complaining, and he started giving me more and more challenging exercises to do. And soon, I started to feel like that girl again. My confidence grew, my spirits lifted and everything felt lighter. “Maybe I’m not depressed,” I thought.

Then, after a particularly difficult and low night, I overslept and missed my session. I awoke to a text message and missed call from my trainer, and I knew I should text him immediately to apologize and reschedule. I didn’t. I waited a day, and I felt horrible the entire time.

The next session, I showed up right at 6:00. I wasn’t chirpy. I wasn’t smiling. “Hey, you OK?” he asked. “You don’t seem like yourself this morning.” Tears slipped down my cheeks and I shook my head. I worked out in silence that morning, without any chit-chat in between sets. This was someone who already knew my most personal details — good grief, he was weighing me every week! — but I couldn’t let him see that I was hurting. That I didn’t really meet the image of me I thought he had in his mind.

I canceled my next appointment and then stopped training. I was hoping if I worked out hard enough, I could trick my brain into getting better. But I couldn’t. I was so disappointed in myself for standing in my own way.

So I shared with a few close friends that I thought I might need to talk to someone. I’d reached the point where I couldn’t manage these feelings on my own. And slowly but surely, with the right therapist, the right medication and the right support system, the fog started to lift.

Those things were all game changers for me, but the biggest game changer was transparency. The more we can talk about mental health, the more we can de-stigmatize it. Almost 10 percent of the population battles depression. Tens of millions of people. And many of us keep quiet, feeling alone.

May is Mental Health Awareness month, and I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone! If anyone is struggling, I’m here to listen. Depression is the worst kind of pathological liar. And it’s real. That’s the truth.

Depression often looks like someone crying. Someone who is exhausted. Someone who is withdrawn. But just as often, it looks like someone who is smiling. Someone who’s organizing happy hours and trying to keep busy. Someone who’s running from activity to activity, so they don’t have to be alone with their thoughts. There’s no one face to it.

Pay attention to yourself, and pay attention to your friends and family. Let them know they’re not alone. 

And thank you for letting me know I’m not alone.

This post first appeared on The Huffington Post.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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When Speaking Up About Depression Is What Saves You

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The hyperventilated breaths, the burn in my lungs, when I finally let out a long exhale to slow my breathing. I settle. My mind settles. 

I’ve been here before, far too many times. My mind has taken off, wandering into the dark places. Opening subjects out of my mental file cabinets I don’t like to discus. The room is filled with light, but me, I only see darkness. I instilled all of these bad behaviors within myself as coping mechanisms. By no real choice of my own.

But each time I speak of the mental notes I’m taking, I’m shut down. I’m told “you are wrong;” “I don’t have time for this;” ” You brought it on yourself;” “Just get over it;” or the worst, silence.

What if they had listened? What if they had used that moment to really listen to the real me? Did they know how much courage it took to come to them? Did they know how long I’ve been holding this in? That I had reached a dangerous breaking point?

Most days I push through, I speak loudly so not to go unnoticed — it also helps to quiet the demons living inside. Maybe if I act like I’m coping well they wont see how much of a mess I am. After all, I don’t want to bother them. It never ends well for me. How lonely I feel inside even in a room full of people. Honestly though, I seek attention. Hoping someone will see through the masks I bare. And for once they won’t stumble to words before distancing themselves because it’s too much or they don’t want to be bothered.

It’s always been like this, though. When I needed someone to be my voice for my tiny self, they left me behind. Minimized, swept the room clean and under the rug it went.

I wonder what my life would be like if someone had spoke up, took my hand and said “I got you, let me carry your burden.” I didn’t find that until I found my husband. But even now, I am not always fully open because he bares such a heavy weight already.

Often times I am crying, no screaming out for help when it gets so bad, but I’ve mastered the art of playing the parade of masks on my day to day that it all just seems normal, or “oh, she’s just emotional today, she’s fine.”

I’ve been there too many times. And before I reacted with what I found was the only “cure” for the big emotions — the pain. More pain.

I refrain from reverting back because it’s not an acceptable form of coping. So I taught myself to speak up, speak out. It’s not always welcomed, though. Who wants to hear they may have hurt your feelings, or hear the sad details of your childhood sexual abuse, the days you spent in the hospital bedside of your tiny child waiting for them to pass because doctors said they have done all they can do. Most don’t want to know these details. I forget that it’s too much, too detailed for them, and it’s hard for them to listen to at times.

But it’s become my saving grace. Speaking up when I get to that drowning point of my depression. When I’ve been fighting for my breaths for months and my body’s finally too exhausted to fight it any more and I start to be pulled under. I try to catch my second wind just before the water reaches the tip of my nose.

I pull myself out, breathe a deep breath or 20. Indulge in a hot bath with music, throw myself into housework, training at the gym. Something, anything to pull myself out and just survive.

It scares me though. I won’t lie. What if I don’t hit that second wind one day when it gets so bad.

I’ll drown.

I can’t think too hard on it, though. I only have now, the fight I have right now. My kids need and deserve it, along with my husband. So I wake up. Fight another day. Smile and push through. It’s all I can do. Just breathe. Besides, I hate the deep water and I don’t want to surrender. I am too damn stubborn.

“And I know that I can survive. I’d walk through fire to save my life. And I want it, I want my life so bad. I’m doing everything I can.” — Sia, “Elastic Heart

Follow this journey on 4 1/2 Hearts.

The Mighty is asking the following: What was one moment you received help in an unexpected or unorthodox way related to disability, disease or mental illness? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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Don't Judge the Online 'Trainwrecks'

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I hate the word “trainwreck.” People take comfort in their own moral compass, and in doing so find themselves passing judgment. They think: I’m definitely not like that; I would never do that; How could she be dumb enough to put herself in that situation because I would never.

And then, if you should find yourself in said situation, you might say, I handled it this way, so, in fact, it’s the right way – and why doesn’t she just do that? It’s easy to judge a situation without context, without actually standing in someone else’s life. It’s easy to deliver sideline commentary without actually being in the game.

Nearly a year ago an old coworker of mine sent me a text about a mutual friend. This coworker and I weren’t friends, per se, but we cared enough about this mutual friend to get on the phone and deal with the uncomfortable conversation we were about to have. This former coworker asked if I had noticed our mutual friend’s disturbing rants on social media. I admitted I hadn’t because I was commuting nearly five hours a day to Princeton, N.J. for a work project, and by the time I got home I was ready to collapse into bed. While on the phone, I scrolled through our mutual friend’s social feeds and winced. The words were painful to read and I remembered another friend making an off-hand joke about this person, about how dramatic this person was — that this person was always kind of a trainwreck. I thought about that flippant comment while on the phone with my former coworker, who wondered aloud what we should do. Would it be OK to ask our mutual friend if something was wrong? Was it our place? Should we say aloud the two words we were thinking: mental illness? And why is it that those two words are ones that are routinely whispered?

Fifteen minutes later I chatted with the mutual friend and asked this person if everything was OK. I could be off-base, but I’m concerned about what you’re writing online and I’m here to listen or help, I remember saying. Or not, if that’s what you want too. I ended up connecting the mutual friend to a psychiatrist, and in that moment, I felt ashamed for not standing up to that flippant comment. For saying, instead of rolling your eyes, maybe be a friend. Even with the people we think we know, we don’t know the whole of their life — only what they choose to share with us. When I was young I remember kids laughing at someone when they tripped and fell. I never really saw the humor in someone falling as my first inclination was to ask if the person was hurt. Are you OK? But as the years moved on, I programmed myself to laugh, albeit uncomfortably, when someone stumbled. Because I guess it’s easier to ridicule instead of making yourself vulnerable.

Online, you can’t be a trainwreck, but you can’t project perfection either — lest you be deemed inauthentic, a “fake.” You can’t be too sad or too happy. You can reveal a little about your personal life, but not too much. People like the comeback story rather than watching you wade helplessly through the dark. They want your dark in past tense because no one wants to deal with your present or future tense sadness. They want that storyline to be played out behind the scenes, but they’ll stick around for the post-mortem.

It reminds me of what the poet Jenny Zhang wrote:

Darkness is acceptable and even attractive so long as there is a threshold that is not crossed. But most people I know who suffer, suffer relentlessly and unendingly no matter what sort of future is proposed (“it’ll get better/it won’t always be this like/you will start to heal/ I know it’s such a cliché but you really will come out of this stronger in the end”). – From “How It Feels”

I’m having the worst year of my life. There, I said it. My mother died, and there was a lot of private drama that circled that event. I made a huge move across the country and although I love Los Angeles and it feels like home, I’m lonely. My father and I fight often — via text, as that’s his preferred method of communication — and the people with whom I used to feel close now seem like strangers.

I relapsed, again. I started seeing a psychiatrist after feeling some harrowing feelings of depression and suicide and I had to stop seeing him because I can no longer afford it. I spend six hours a day looking for work and I haven’t landed anything substantial yet. I spend most of my time at home, alone, because sometimes daylight feels unbearable. Every day I worry about losing my home (even though my best friend has generously and kindly offered hers as a temporary salve), and I live on a clock. I have literally enough money to last me for another month, and then I default on all my debt and lose my apartment.

This reality is one I deal with daily. It’s one I deal with when I go on job interviews and present my best self. When I text friends, who are so amazing and beautiful and kind, and they tell me they feel helpless about my situation and ask what they can do and I tell them, in response, you’re doing it. Keep sending me those cat pictures because sometimes it’s nice to take a break from all this sadness. I ask about their day because I care, and because it’s a needed and desired distraction. My best friend calls me on her drive home from work and asks me how I’m doing, really doing, and I tell her, and then I ask about her kids, her brother who just got married and I cry a little when I tell her I remember when he was a 16-year-old kid drinking beers with us when my best friend and I were freshmen in college.

We’re old, we joke constantly — but the joke is not out of regret, it comes from a place of comfort for having endured what we have. Our years.

I spend most of my days oscillating between two faces — the presentable, together one, and the one behind who lives in abject terror. Patiently I wait for the next project or job offer so I can pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with my doctor because I want to get better. I want to get back to this place. I want to stop thinking and start doing.

How is it we’re so easily wounded by an offhand comment or swipe? A stranger writes and tells me not to talk about anything that’s happened to me this year because future employers will consider me “unstable.” I don’t know how to respond so I don’t. I spent the better part of my life behind a mask, suffocating from it — and if someone can’t respect a person trying to get through a tough time, that someone is human, then this is probably not a person with whom I want to work. Friends with whom I thought I was close maintain a safe distance, and part of me wonders if they think this is what I want. Perhaps they’re trying to be respectful, but then I think of my other friends who text, Facetime, and come by my home and drag me to the beach and pay for my lunch or donuts because I can’t really eat out anymore. These friends don’t act like a therapist and I don’t expect them to. Sometimes I just want a donut or a cat photo or a friend like my dear Amber who will Facetime me and ask me, no, really, how the f*ck are you? And she’ll sit there and listen while I talk about really uncomfortable things and Amber does exactly what I need a friend to do — listen without making me feel ashamed for not snapping out of my sadness.

There are people who don’t like me, who are reveling in the fact I’m having the worst year of my life, and while I’d like to say that this doesn’t bother me I’d be lying. Because we innately want to be liked by everyone even if this isn’t a reality. I think about a few random comments and I think about others — strangers and friends and casual acquaintances who cloak me with their compassion and kindness, and both disparate experiences made me realize the weight we place on what we hear and experience in the world. I can’t change who I am or what I’ve done, only the way I come to and manage my experiences, moving forward. What’s important for me right now is to surround myself with people who care and give me honest feedback when I need and deserve it simply because they want me to get better, do better, feel better. What matters right now is that I do whatever I can to get better. That I keep moving forward. That I sit in my sadness when I need to and lean on others when the sadness becomes entirely too palpable to bear.

I’m really f*cking tired of feeling ashamed for going through tragedy, of feeling depressed. I’m tired of managing everyone’s discomfort, their uncomfortable silence and unsolicited feedback. Friends put in the work. If I’m putting in the work to get better and be better, put in the work of learning how to deal with someone going through a tenuous time. Practice empathy and compassion. Don’t laugh when someone falls down because it’s gossip, because it’s what you’ve been conditioned to do. It’s easy to be an asshole. It’s hard to be patient and kind.

You’re either on or off my bus.

Follow this journey on Love.Life.Eat. 

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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When Your Depression Hits Your Family Like a Tropical Storm

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Family is such a wondrous thing, isn’t it? We’re so interwoven with blood and memories and stories and even sometimes not with blood but with miracles or the precious gift of the resurrection of family by combining two. Our lives are swimming together in the same pool of life, sometimes in different depths and sections but in the same pool, nonetheless. So when good things happen or hard times hit, like ripples and waves in a pool, all members of the family feel the water changing.

In mine, it was like a big tropical storm hit our pool when depression reached its most severe for me a few months ago.

Like such a storm, there were rains that preceded its arrival and indications of the strongest part to come, but everyone felt it differently and some never knew what hit them when the storm came. It left messes in its wake and confusion in the midst. And the clean-up process is still ongoing.

I’m blessed to say that my family has supported me beautifully in this most difficult of difficult times for me and that our community has worked to support them as well. It’s often misunderstood or perhaps even completely missed that the family of someone suffering severe depression deserves attention, too. Here’s how this storm affected my family. Here’s how people have helped. And hopefully, here, in between the lines, you will find help for your family or loved ones if a storm of this kind makes landfall at your family’s pool.

Effects on My Spouse

At the time, things became clear that they were dire, my husband was faced with an ever increasing amount of worry and tasks before him. He had to research ways to help me. He had to consider financial costs of the help he wanted to get me. And, he had to consider whether or not I was at risk of taking my own life. He had to check in on me, like a lifeguard, a lot. All of this was on top of working and caring for our five children and household when I was unable to do so myself. These are heavy burdens to bare, some of the heaviest. But our community, friends and loved ones stepped in.

A group of women I meet with regularly brought meals to our family for two weeks straight while I was in an all-day outpatient treatment program. Our church family brought us money to help offset the cost of this program. My husband spent extra time with his disciple leader and men he trusts in order to make sure he had a place to share and get support. My mom flew in from Florida and stayed with my husband and our kids while I was in the hospital after I made an attempt to end my life. She hired a cleaning company to come in, she did laundry, she and my niece took turns picking up the kids from school so my husband could visit me in the hospital and be free of these duties during this heart-wrenchingly difficult time.

In these ways, our community lessened the blow to my husband’s whole world and lightened his load. He still had a lot of heavy weight to carry, but he had life preservers to hang on to when the waters got rough. He would also say that his faith was most definitely his life raft in all of this, and that is an unspeakable gift in itself.

Effects on My Children

Children are miraculous and resilient little creatures. Like new swimmers, they find they can do more than they thought they could when the water gets deep. We wouldn’t purposely throw a new swimmer into the deep end, but when they are forced in, most find they can actually keep themselves afloat. That’s kind of like what happened to my kids, but like a child who doesn’t really want to be in the deep end, some showed their distaste and some hid it.

My youngest went to be with family a state away for two weeks during this time. She is too little to understand what was going on at home, and she is used to having mini-vacations with them. They provided her with familiarity, great bundles of love and lots of stability. She was pretty good with this transition, but towards the end, I am told she asked for Mommy quite a bit. Our extended family provided a huge gift to us by loving on her and caring for her during this time.

My 10-year-old stayed afloat by expressing irritability, some irrationality and asking lots of questions. Thank goodness his favorite person in the universe was with him (my mom) during the hardest times because she answered his questions, was patient with him and provided great distraction.

The teenagers were different. Most acted like the cool kids going off the high dive. No big deal, right? But inside I know they felt unsure and scared. We were able to talk about things more as the storm passed, but what they wanted and needed more than anything during the eye of that storm were honest, upfront answers and to feel like everything was going to be OK. My husband and our extended family, as well as their peer groups, did this while I was unable to.

All the kids, on some level, internalized their fear and confusion. But with extra attention and TLC, reassurance that everything was going to be OK, as well as the ability to be open about it with others, they have come through the other side of the storm.

Effects on My Friends

Friends swim in our pool, too, right? Two of my closest friends in particular were dramatically impacted by this storm. They felt lots of fear and even anger. One expressed quite a bit of anger after my overdose, but we talked about it, acknowledged it, and I took ownership of the pain that it caused her. One made lots of phone calls and felt like she needed to check on me all the time. She really wanted me to talk about the nitty gritty of things with her, and that was a little too hard for me, but those were her needs. We were able to talk about that and then support each other’s needs. It had a deep impact on both friends, no doubt about it. Honest communication with me and with my spouse throughout the storm kept them in the loop and gave them a sense of hope and optimism.

The Rainbow After the Storm Has Passed

Like so many storms, there is beauty in the renewal that comes afterward. Sometimes it takes the clean-up crew a long time to get things back in order, but often there are glimmers of beauty even in the midst or immediately after. For us, there was beauty in the way our community, family and friends surrounded us while our family was trying to stay above water. There was beauty for my family in the reassurance of my presence when I came home from the hospital. And there was so much beauty as I witnessed endless supply of concern, love and patience poured out, on and to me. While many people were sad, scared and hurt, right along with us, there was beauty in the coming together — kind of like a pool party on a perfect summer day but maybe no cocktails or music! And there is definitely beauty in the healing process, for us all.

Follow this journey on Mommy Muddling.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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