“Why does your mouth smile but your eyes are sad?” asked my seven year old son as he looked into my eyes. I was so taken a back that I did not have a response before, in true seven year old fashion, he ran off to a new adventure.
Me, I sat there, contemplating what he had said. I had thought I was doing a good job hiding my sadness. There were days that I felt myself going under but I fought hard to keep my head above water. The sadness was, at times, a dull ache that would not go away. At other times it came in large waves, knocking me over and incapacitating me until I found a way to crawl out of the abyss. But I thought I had done a good job at hiding the bad times. I guess I wasn’t doing as good of a job as I thought.
I spent the next couple of days working harder to keep the depression at bay and spending time with my boys. I thought that if I kept busy with them that I could avoid the darkness. I was fighting a losing battle. Before long I could barely get out of bed in the morning. I called my counsellor and began seeing him regularly but inside I was still falling apart. As fast as I worked to feel better, I was knocked down by waves of depression.
I felt worthless. I felt like a failure as a wife and mother. I couldn’t see a future but I continued to work and advocate for my children. I functioned on the outside but on the inside I wanted nothing more than to end the turmoil inside me. To put a stop to the anxiety and depression.
I wanted to die.
To the shock of those around me, I went to the hospital and spent 6 weeks trying to pull myself back together. A big part of that process was to begin medication – for the depression and anxiety. It was through the medication that I began to feel better, to have the anxiety eased, to have the depression lifted. With the medication I began to be a better mom – more patient, more engaging, more responsive, more present.
Don’t get me wrong, it was also hard. It was hard to accept that I needed medication. There were side effects of the medication – mainly drowsiness that forced me to nap during the day and made it hard to function at work. But as time went on the side effects lessened and the positives continued to grow. For the first time in a long time I wasn’t just trying to get through each day. I was living my life and enjoying it alongside my loved ones.
Medication may not be for everyone but for me it was very necessary and beneficial to my whole family.
I now knew that when I smiled at my son, my eyes smiled too.