I’m still looking for the joy.

I’ve been kind of quiet lately. Maybe you’ve noticed.

It’s because I’ve been feeling down again. Exhausted. Sad. Irritable. Frustrated.

But I just haven’t really felt like talking about it. Or writing about it.

So I’ve been quiet.

I’ve been really open about my battle with depression since I started Honest Mom. But sometimes even I just don’t want to get into it. And I haven’t wanted to lately.

I’ve just been so frustrated for the past few weeks. And feeling so GUILTY. Which is totally unproductive, of course. I know I can’t help the chemicals in my brain that are being all wacky right now.

But illogically, I still can’t help thinking, Why, oh why, is this happening to me? What is my freaking problem?

I have a great husband. Great kids. An ideal part-time job. Life is good. What is the issue? Just get OVER IT and be HAPPY, I want to yell at myself.

But of course I can’t just get over it, no matter how much I want to. That’s not the way it works.

So for two weeks I’ve focused on doing things to help me climb back up from the low place I’ve been in, while trying to smile through it and be, well, normal in front of everyone else.

And there are definitely hours at a time where I do feel pretty normal. Yesterday was a good day. I was pretty productive, I had some good time with Gracie, and I didn’t have that intangible sense of dread I’ve been experiencing so much. I think it’s because I had lots of plans. Being out and around others really helps me, so I’ve been keeping busy and ignoring the dishes and laundry.

But this morning I will likely have a very hard time getting out of bed. Again. Because I won’t know what the day holds. Will it be a good day? A sad day? An irritable day? Some sort of mix of it all?

I don’t look forward to finding out.

And that’s a problem.

I know it’ll get better. It always does. I still hope that someday it’ll just stay better and I can stop this exhausting back-and-forth of depression.

But for now, I’ll take it one day at a time, and remind myself to look for the joy that lifts my spirits.

It’s in Gracie’s laugh. Annie’s hopeful smile. Hubs’ big warm hug. My friends’ companionship. My mom’s voice.

And when I find the joy, I feel the depression melting.

So I keep forcing myself to look for it, until the joy comes naturally again.

 mom fighting depression

photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc

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63 Replies to “I’m still looking for the joy.”

  1. I’ve learnt – no, I’m still learning – and trying to – and failing, sometimes – to not take my anxiety and depression seriously. That is my goal. As strange as it may sound, my goal is to enjoy my life, and my family inspite of my anxiety. And not shy a way from my life, because of it. This is what is working for me. Some days it is easy to do. Other days I fail miserably, but I continue to try and focus on enjoying my life anyway. If I can.

    1. Today hasn’t been such a good day. And I know my thinking isn’t right. Wish I could just wallow in self pity and misery and be done with it. Wish I could realise that I am so much more than this anxiety. And be done with it. I wish you knew just how clearly I understand what it is that you are going through. Hang in there, don’t give up, it always does get better.

  2. I’m sorry you are feeling this way. Do you exercise/run? I can’t begin to tell you how much better this has made my life. If you start up running and find a running partner (extra bonus)… I promise it will help!

  3. I understand this so completely. I’ve been fighting it off all month too. The hard part is that it’s hard to fight off something that is already exhausting you. Hope this passes soon.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I am currently going through the third trimester doldrums, and the overwhelming guilt that comes with it. Be happy, thankful, you are so blessed to even be pregnant! I have two little ones who definitely notice the difference, and a husband trying to keep everything up himself. I’m taking steps to switch my meds to the tried-and-true ones, regardless of potential side effects, in anticipation of post partum moods. But I am overwhelmed with guilt. I get you, sister. Thanks for writing. xoxoxo

  5. oh, how I understand this! I spent so many years fighting this. Fighting so very, very hard. I've been healthy for 3+ years now, but that doesn't mean -at all- that it's still not a fight. A fight to NOT forget my meds bc I feel so great. A fight to stay aware at all times bc this is slippery, nasty slope and I can begin to fall so quickly. Remember to be gentle with yourself, give yourself grace (so hard) and TAKE A SHOWER 🙂 (that still amazes me- showering was such a task. ) Hugs and prayers to you.

  6. I can totally relate, and the last week I've been in this very spot. I'm trying very hard not to slip into that hole I get in, but it's hard not to. I am so blessed and thankful for my little family, yet I have this struggle. xxhugsxx to you.

  7. You just described my life to a T. I have dealt with this since I was 17. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing you have this great life, yet not being able to force yourself out of a depression. Fighting it every single day is exhausting, and it affects me as a mom significantly. My husband and my kids are used to my being depressed, but it still gives me an enormous sense of guilt knowing I am not giving them 100%. At the end of the day I am so exhausted from forcing my day to day activities, they suffer for it.

  8. Hey I know you just bared your soul, but you should try my technique cuz im awesome and it works!
    *sigh* I know people mean well, but jesus. It is incredibly insensitive to push your agenda on people in a moment of weakness. People don’t struggle with depression because they want to or because they didnt think to try that one thing that will be a miracle cure. It is debilitating. How about this. Go get the flu and in your WORST moment, when you’ve been sick for 3 days and have NO energy and your head hurts and the thought of moving makes you literally consider death as a better option… Just get up and go to the gym. No? Don’t feel like it? Not sure you can physically get to the bathroom much less out the door? Yeah. NOW you might understand a bit. Now add in small children who have no idea what is wrong with you and want you to play with them. Can you, with your hypothetical flu, get up and fake being happy for their benefit? Pretend you dont want to just go back to bed because it would make them sad? Can you get up and go to work, because you have to or your kids go without food and the flu isnt a “real illness” in the eyes of the public? Yeah I didnt think so.
    People don’t write about depression looking for another piece of advice. They write to be honest and maybe let someone else know it’s not wrong to admit you are struggling. The only thing saying you’ve got the answer does is make us feel worse that YOUR solution didnt work either, but it should have so we just suck at that too.

    1. Tarina get out of my head! No, seriously. You made me tear up with your response because it describes my thoughts so perfectly. Having an “invisible” illness is so hard because it’s not easily understood, and a lot of people believe it’s a made up disease from pharmacies trying to sell drugs 🙁

      As for the suggestions, I know your intentions are good. Everyone has “down” days and exercise can really help boost your mood. However severe depression is way worse than a “down” day. By the time I get home from work I literally don’t have the energy left to cook. Most of the time the kids get something easy or take out because I just can’t.

      As I said in my facebook response, thank you for this. I honestly didn’t realize so many people went through exactly what I am going through, and it’s a tremendous help for me to talk about it.

    2. Yes, yes & yes again! The flu analogy is perfect & I sincerely hope that it will make someone who has never felt the true depths of depression/anxiety think twice before offering – albeit well intended – advice on how to get ‘un-depressed’

  9. Oh, Honest Mom, I’m having a similar problem and I thank you for sharing. I can’t write about it on my blog because it’s BAD this time and I don’t want my MIL knowing my business. I cried all the way to school dropoff this morning, then wiped my tears and tried to act “normal” in front of everybody in the school.

    It HURTS to think of what this is doing to my boys; they know something is wrong with me (they think I’m “sick”…my 5-yo walked in the room the other day when I was on the phone with my mom, crying hysterically, “I’m sick! Nobody believes that I’m sick!” He said, “Mom, I believe you,” and then asked if I would just like him to leave me alone. My heart BROKE). My mom says in the grand scheme of things, they won’t remember this. I hope she’s right.

    Thanks for writing this post.

  10. JD I so relate to this piece because I have been in a strange place with my depression myself. I think it’s so brave and wonderful of you to share your experience. For me, I always find that when I start feeling I have a choice whether to have a good day or bad day I know I’m on the road back. Sending hugs and best thoughts your way! xo

  11. Being an Army family, we often use the saying “Live to fight another day.” Sometimes that’s all the day provides. Survival. And that’s OK. Because another day will come if you get through this one.

  12. I know exactly how you feel. As a mother of 3 young kids, I take my meds, TRY to stick to a routine, and succeed most days. But, like a bolt of lightening from nowhere, the depression creeps back into my life. I’ve got wonderful healthy children, an amazing husband and great friends. So why do I feel like hiding in the closet today? Is it gonna last all week or just today? What will my husband say when he finally gets home from travel and I’m “sick” again… This sucks…just plain sucks…

    1. This is me! It comes and goes without warning. I feel so guilty when I feel”bad”. Luckily my hubs is pretty understanding but i have three little kids who need me. I am so tired of the roller coaster.

  13. I think the hardest part of depression is when you have a good day and you think "oh good I am feeling better", but it just turns out to be the eye of the storm. One day at a time..

  14. I had exactly this kind of weekend. Some of it is certainly my fault. I’ve been busy and missing doses of my anti-depressant. Not a good start.

    I was standing in the kitchen crying yesterday morning and asking myself to take stock and identify the source of sadness. Answer? None. Like you all things are going very well, actually,in my life. But that’s depression, isn’t it. There’s no logic to depression.

    I’m thinking of you, and getting it. If nothing else, you’re not alone.

  15. I could have written this myself. My life over the past 3 weeks has been a living hell & I have not been dealing with it very well. I can totally relate to waking up every morning dreading/terrified of what the day will bring & how I will (or won’t) deal with it. I.HATE.MORNINGS, especially when I’m in the midst of a bad bout of anxiety/depression. I’m currently not medicated but I have a feeling that will change very soon. Thanks for making me and countless others feel less alone

  16. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m in the same boat and I’m so grateful to have found this blog. You are such a brave soul and I hope you realize how much it helps ppl like us to see we are not alone!

  17. Another thing to add to the list of things that makes you happy is encouraging others in your same situation to reach out for help. Which is exactly what you did for me.

    I emailed you about a month ago and told you about my depression and asked advice on meds. I’ve been taking my meds for about a month now and I feel so much better, because of the encouragement you gave me. I still have my down days, like you’re having now, but every day isn’t dreadful anymore. The meds even helped me lose a little baby weight!

    I’m still getting the courage to share my experiences with depression but reading your blog is helping me get there. I don’t have anyone but YOU to thank for finally seeing a doctor about my depression. I hope that gave you a smile and made your day a little better. Thank you.

  18. I'm so sorry you are having a down time! I'm right in the trenches fighting with you! I hope it looks up for you really soon!!

  19. I get this 1000X over! It hard, and even when people get it, you always wonder if they really get it. I cannot wait to meet you at the "I Just Want To Pee Alone" event!

  20. we’re living parallel lives.
    i just posted about my depression, too.

    i have to be careful on my blog about it though, b/c of family. they’re too afraid of what others will think.

    Also, have you seen this TexdxTeen talk? It took my breath away today. This guy is only 19. Watch: http://www.upworthy.com/this-kid-thinks-we-could-save-so-many-lives-if-only-it-was-okay-to-say-4-words?c=ufb1

    (I also posted it on my FB wall)

    love and hugs to you. you’re not alone.

  21. Clearly you are not alone in the way you feel. I understand too. I have been going through a wild roller coaster of highs, lows, happiness, sadness, irritability, the whole nine. I agree with the person who asked if you run/exercise. I just started running. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to get out for 30 mins or whatever and just clear my mind. It has done wonders for me. I feel more balanced, and these days, I go for a run for the mental clarity more so than the fitness and I reap the benefits of both. I hope things get better soon! xoxo Alexa

  22. I just wanted to thank you so much for sharing. Please know that you are not alone. What you are describing sounds so, so much like my life (right down to the great part-time job, and a daughter named Annie!) I sometimes think of myself as a joyful depressed person. A bit ridiculous, I know. I KNOW that joy is there, and I am very grateful for the many wonderful people in my life. All of it. It’s just so hard when you can’t get your mind to that place. Such a struggle. I hope it is some comfort to know that you are not alone in this, and that your willingness to share truly makes a difference. You are courageous.

  23. Please take a little joy in your writing and how it helps others find a name to what they are feeling and recognition to their struggles. Hope this passes soon.

  24. Thank you for sharing this…I know it can’t always be easy to share this piece of yourself and let people in. We don’t want people to know our flaws or that we’re not happy with everything. But it’s unhealthy to do that…so kudos for you for putting yourself out there.

  25. Parts of me love this and parts of me hate it for you. Does that make sense? I am so sorry that things have been so rough and that you find yourself falling deeper down and think that your ability to recognize it is critical. Thank you for sharing and being open and honest and I hope you know we support you as you make it through these tough times. Huge gigantic hugs. xo

  26. Thank you, thank you. The overwhelming dread, everything, every small task being so hard… This is how I try to explain the illness to family and friends.

    I stopped taking all of my meds, albeit gradually, over the springtime. I felt great… Until I realized I was really having a mild manic episode that inevitably ends in debilitating depression. Tried the natural route, two naturopaths, expensive urine test that revealed (duh) that I was severely low in necessary chemicals. Husband returned from 9 month deployment to a barely functioning wife. I made him and my 3 kids miserable for two weeks until I had had enough and started my medication again.

    It is a real illness. I’m slowly – through testimonies like yours – starting to realize I’m not as alone as I thought I was all these years. I sincerely hope that the fog lifts for you soon. Keep reaching out, and be gentle with yourself:-)

  27. So many of us are so grateful to you for your candor and honesty. I understand how it feels to sometimes even get tired of hearing yourself talk/write about it, and you prefer to just stay silent. Thanks for being so generous with your sharing.

  28. Ugh you describe my feelings every time! I'm in the same boat, one week im good the next back down again its makes me so sad I just dont understand why we just cant stay feeling good. Thank you so much for sharing with us, it helps to know that we arent alone when it feels so much like we are:(

  29. Keep seeking the joy and the good. I think there’s something in the air at the moment. I’ve had a week a bit like that. Still, this too, shall pass. Hope it’s a quick recovery for ya.

  30. I’m having a hard time finding the joy. I really don’t know what to write, or even why I’m writing it, but I share your struggles. Especially today.

  31. I’m so sorry. I have family members that suffer from depression and I have medications that tend me make me have a mild form of it occasionally but it’s NEVER a good feeling, no matter how severe or mild it is, it’s always hard.

  32. Ugh… I feel your pain. I am so sorry you have to suffer the ebb and flow of depression. I pray you can fight the good fight and embrace those beautiful things in your life you mentioned. Depression is a lonely disease… and during those dark seasons, make sure you engage with someone, anyone to keep you from spiraling deeper down.
    Praying for your spirit to be lifted today!!!

  33. I so relate to you. I recently wrote about the same up and down and how tired I am of feeling better, then feeling bad. (http://mishmashmamablog.com/personal/motherhood-depression/, if you want to read it.) I’m so glad you did decide to talk about it, because it is better than holding it in. It sucks to feel like you are watching your life from the bottom of a hole. Something I am going to do is next time I feel good, make a list of what I needed when I felt bad. That way, I can give it to my friends/family and maybe they will know how to help me.

  34. Depression is tough. I felt the same guilt..why was I so depressed when I had everything I could have wanted? I do know that we all have a God-sized hole that we try to fill with everything in our lives we think we need to make it perfect, but the only thing that can fill it is God. I have a blog post on it if you're interested…http://www.celestialprescriptions.com/?p=2506. Hope you can beat it. I also have a series on how to increase the serotonin in your brain without drugs…menu item "tips to a happier you" on my blog. Blessings and hope you a feeling happier soon!

  35. I get not wanting to talk about it, not wanting to write about it, again. Because when you start to see the pattern of depression in your life and recognize it for what it is, it can start to feel tedious. How can we know what’s happening but be at such a loss to stop it from happening? And that whole head trip of “what is wrong with me, I have everything, I am blessed, what is my problem, why all the sadness, the negativity?” I can relate. Boy can I relate. When I resort to Prozac and feel an almost instant lifting, like I’ve been sprinkled with patient fairy dust, and I start singing to my children in the morning again, rather than nagging them to hurry up, hurry up, I have to wonder, is this me, the Prozac me, the real me, or is that other me the real me? And then I go to that place that asks why I need pharmaceuticals to be the person I feel I really am, the person I want to be, the funny one, the playful one, the grateful one, the one who isn’t afraid, anxious and irritable all the time. I was hoping my comment would come to some logical end, or conclusion, but, alas, it has not. Suffice it to say, I admire and appreciate your honesty. I’m raising girls too. I worry they will “inherit” my struggle.

  36. I found your blog while trying to figure out if I am depressed again. Trying to figure out if I need meds again. Trying to figure out if I am just an ungrateful bitch that should be happy with her life. Great kids and husband (why do I snap at them all the time?) Angry? Irritable? Restless? Crying for no reason? Insomnia? Tongue tied and frozen around others? Can’t stand to be around the very people that love you the most? Yeah, that’s me. Someone reading this would think well DUH! Of course she’s depressed. I just thought I was a bitch. I can’t even think to get my words out right anymore! Now the question is do I just start my meds again or go to doc to see if they have something else that would work better for me?

    Thank you for writing this blog. It is nice to know I am not alone.

  37. I've lived with depression for over 20 years and it takes discipline to get better, not easy. I can't say I've healed, but the attacks haven't been as bad lately. I got some great insights from this site I came across, and if you struggle with depression, I think it's worth a quick read: http://depressionslaying.com
    Anyway I'm still on my journey to recovery. Depression is a medical condition that sufferers have minimum control over, and it takes hard work to get better, and sadly most people don't make it. Anyway peace and love.

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