I am thinking about the final words of Willy Wonka...
“Charlie, remember what happened to the boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted.” Willy says solemnly. “He lived happily ever after.”
But what if he didn’t?
Here I sit with a husband I love, four healthy children, a caring extended family, a community of prayer and support, a house – well, let’s not get into the house – and I find myself struggling as I have never struggled before.
I read Kate Wicker’s article on post-partum depression, and a light came on.
I feel depleted – spiritually, mentally, physically. Childbirth aside, I’m not much of a crier, but I cry nearly every day. I snap about everything and nothing. I feel everything piling up on me.
Over the past months I’ve floated a variety of solutions:
- If I could just de-clutter the house…
- If Dave and I could just get away…
- If I just hired some help with the cleaning…
- If I just started exercising…
- If I just got my prayer life in order…
- If spring would just come…
To be sure there is value in all these things. I have tried a few of them, and I firmly intend to pursue a few more. But the over-arching truth is that I am depressed. Now, I could invest a ton of energy lecturing myself about why I shouldn’t feel the way I do, but I’m taking a pass on that. Instead I’ve decided to take a few concrete steps to take better care of myself.
I’ve had little bouts of depression twice before. In my late twenties, I found myself wondering what I had to look forward to. My life seemed ordinary and old. Been there, done that.
My wise friend Dian gave me some good advice: Plan something to look forward to - a trip, a race, a book club, whatever. Proverbs says. “Without a vision, the people will perish.” True of a nation, true of an individual.
Following Tim’s birth, I had a bleak period probably stemming from profound sleep deprivation. It reached a climax one afternoon while watching men’s figure skating. Dave heard me sobbing my heart out and came running.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, probably wondering if I had dropped the baby or something.
“He’s not going to the Olympics,” I bawled pointing to the T.V. screen which showed a skater who had just fallen.
Seriously, I cried like the family dog had just become road kill. Weird. Freaked Dave out just a little bit.
What I’m dealing with now is more of a garden variety sinkhole. If there’s a smoking gun in all this it has to be the medical issues we’ve faced of late. Since October we have had 38 doctor’s appointments, three x-rays, one colonoscopy, two broken arms, four bouts of Swine Flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, croup, and sinus and ear infections innumerable. And we’re healthy! Congress need not worry about stimulating the medical economy. The Dolins are doing that quite effectively
With illness comes sleep deprivation. With chronic sleep deprivation comes a mom on the edge.
John and I cuddled on the couch in the wee hours this morning. He is still reeling from the time change. I read John 15 and was touched to the core by words I have read so many, many times: There is no greater love than this: to give up one’s life for those whom one loves.
I love my family. I am dedicating my life to their care. Today I resolve to take a little better care of myself so that I can care for them.