2 moments

by Mrs. Smith on February 6, 2018

I’m only going to describe 2 moments here, so hopefully this doesn’t take 3 hours and 5,000 words. It’s me, though, so I make no promises. There’s a LOT of backstory for the first one. 

Y’all know I love the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman like it’s nobody’s business. That’s a given. I saw the movie early on in January and that was it. New favorite movie. New songs that feel like they’re part of me. Mr Smith even bought said soundtrack — which totally surprised me, as this is the first time he’s bought ANY soundtrack or music in the entire 14 years I’ve known him. But yeah. It’s kind of a thing right now.

What you might not know is that right after Christmas, I started spiraling down into a pretty significant depression. Bleh. Not fun. By mid-January it was really rough. If you’ve been there, there are no words necessary, kind of like how anyone who’s broken a bone knows the kind of pain involved.

If you haven’t ever been under that kind of emotional fog, I’m happy for you and I hope you never have to feel that kind of pain, but let me try to explain what it’s like for just a second here.

Let’s pretend that all good feelings are like light.

Depression, for me, is like blindness. The sun may be out, but I can’t see it. The lights might be on in the house, but that doesn’t help me one bit. On better days, it might be more like super-dark sunglasses. And I know my way around really well, so I can fake it. I can get from a to b. I can recognize what *should* be happy things, but boy, does it take a lot to get it actually through to the inside.

Thankfully, I can recognize what’s going on when the metaphorical lights start going out, and I can troubleshoot it. Oh, the tools! I love them all. I could write a pretty sizeable book about all the tools I’ve found and what they’re good for and how they’ve helped at different times. But that would be a fairly boring book, so I’m not writing it, and certainly not here… except, I gotta indulge on just this one little soapbox.

Therapy is a favorite, you see. I still shake my head at how long I went without trying it, how absolutely level-10 miserable I was for SO so so long without thinking I needed it, and (wow) how low I had to get before I’d finally consider it.

I. am. so. stubborn.

Rule of thumb: If you aren’t having 5 good days a week on average, something’s off.

Little-known fact generalization:

For most depression, a REALLY GOOD psychologist can help a patient kick the depression before medication even kicks in. Yup. True story. Any respectable doctor will tell you that an antidepressant is going to take 2 weeks to start helping, and more like 2 months before they can tell if it’s the right one or not.

Any person who’s been on one will tell you (as I will) – yeah, that’s basically right. It’s 2 months before it’s really got you stable and more-high-functioning. IF the medication prescribed is actually a good fit for you… and that’s a big, fat IF.

I’m not sure what any respectable therapist will tell you about how long it takes to heal depression
– 
and note, there are lots of different causes for depression and different intensities, etc, etc, so really, the “solution” is different for each person –
but I do know that the therapist I see rarely-if-ever recommends patients look into medication, because in his opinion/experience, he knows he can help someone get over it before their meds will stabilize.

End soapbox.

Anyhow.

Short story is, from past experience I know that 2 months is more than enough time for a (REALLY GOOD) therapist to have me back on my feet again. So. When I started noticing the spiral, I got my booty back into a (REALLY GOOD) therapist’s office.
And my feet to a (REALLY GOOD) foot zoner’s living room, too, of course. Yay foot zoning. It helps everything.

But the therapy magic was slow-acting and the spiral had been a fast one. Bummmmmmmer.

It hurt, just being alive. It did. Almost every waking moment it felt like I was emotionally dragging about 2 tons behind me.

Okay, exaggeration. I wouldn’t be able to drag 2 tons anywhere. More like…. 100 lbs? 200? 150. We’ll go in the middle. Imagine being a wuss and dragging 150lbs everywhere you go. 50 in a backpack and 25 on each limb. That’s me, emotionally, when depressed. By 9am, I’m ready for a nap. By noon, I’m ready to go into hibernation. 

Technically, I could tell that the depression was, in fact, lessening
(mostly thanks to the Burns Depression Checklist providing such a fabulous benchmark. Yay Dr Burns! I love you!)

– but I was counting down the hours til my next appointment. The burden was causing more fatigue than the therapy was giving relief. I had two sessions in a row where it felt like therapy left me hanging. Kinda like I was having surgery and they’d just stop half-way through and be like, “Okay, so, come back in next week and we’ll pick up where we left off.”

??????

Really? You’re going to leave me like this, raw and bleeding, and send me home without painkillers to wait for next week? Seriously? THANKS FOR NOTHING, you useless reptile.

Guess I’ll just have to go watch Greatest Showman AGAIN, so there!

But I kept going. I knew I was on the right track. Hard times happen. This was most definitely not my first rodeo, and this was frankly a LOT easier than some I’ve made it through… which I could see, but not feel. Hauling an extra 150lbs is too bothersome to give a flip that 200 was heavier.

We’ve had some awesome breakthroughs this month – stuff I haven’t been able to get anywhere close to touching before…  AND, I found a new awesome tool that basically, immediately tied those weights to helium balloons, making it much less bothersome to haul them around…

which leads us to the scene of The First Moment.

About a week ago,

I surprised myself by feeling up to turning on music just for fun. You might not think it takes much “effort” to do that, to simply turn on music, that a person could feel crappy enough to NOT “feel up to turning music on,” but yeah. It can be.

“Oh wow, hey, I haven’t done this in a while…”

And then the music started playing:

“Wooooooo-oooo-oo-o-oah!”

Boom.

Boom-boom.

And then, THE MOMENT:

this awesome feeling of anticipation and joy and sparkle ignited inside me.

I remembered how Mr Smith turned this music on almost every day, and, you guys!
For weeks, I ACTUALLY FELT NOTHING.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?! Oh my word, are you serious????!

It’s true. That same music, bringing me this huge rush of all kinds of happy feelings — before, it couldn’t touch me.

I was shocked and tickled pink to have the magic back again. 

Going with the “light” analogy, it’s like having a light switch broken for a while – an electrician comes, and poof! There you go. Flip the switch and the light comes on again. Woohoo!

That was the first moment.

The second happened just tonight.

If it were going to be long, it would get its own post, but it’s not. Watch.

We were eating dinner.

Tangent:
Sorry, gotta brag, cuz it’s still a big deal to me.
This was dinner that *I* made, and (most of) the kids were devouring it… The 6yo even said,

“Wow, mom, you make really good musubi!”
Awwwww, happy day, how cute was that?

At some point I suggest we play the animal sounds game, where you think of two animals and try to make their sounds combined. Yes, we stole it off a “Happy Families” Mormon messages commercial. 

This was our first try with this game. 

Here comes the moment….

Mr Smith says, 

“Oh, I know! What would it sound like if… you took a Creativity, and combined it with a Doodle, and an Eagle, and a Freedom, a Gent, and a Happy?”

All 6 of them started yelling. Like, full on, top of their lungs, screaming.

It. Was. So. Funny!

All Mr Smith and I could do was giggle and joke over the cacophony about how we bet our new neighbors here are sooooooooo glad we moved to this end of the street. 

The old neighbors love us, but it’s possible they have mentioned how much quieter that side is now… and thankfully the new neighbors haven’t egged us or anything yet. 😉 Tonight we might have earned it, though — I don’t think I’ve ever heard them be quite that loud! Wow. It was… yeah. Loud.

So, I’m literally falling in to Mr Smith’s lap, laughing with the Smith-ness of this wild and wonderful moment,

and it’s like there’s a lightbulb in my brain that goes off.

They’re loud. They’re crazy. They’re a handful and a half, but they’re SO precious. They’re SO vibrant. They’re SO adorably freaking-awesome… 

This is… FUN!

And again, I did a double-take. It was almost exactly the same kind of moment as the other one. I could feel the music again, not just hear it.

How many meals have I sat with these same kids, around a noisy, crowded dinner table where some kids like it and some kids hate it, and I’ve thought of no such light-hearted-ness, no such game, no such fun, too depressed to even try to “turn on the music?” And when Mr Smith would turn it on for us, everything was just dark and bland and I felt almost nothing in comparison with that totally-average, silly-Smithtopian-moment. 

As sad as it is for me to put it out here, I have to come clean here:

For years and years, the joy of mothering has been fleeting glimpses. Little sparks of light like shooting stars.

I’d see the phrase, “joy in motherhood,” and it was like a fairy tale to me. I tried not to roll my eyes at it. I tried not to think things like, “Yeah, right.”

I’d feel a longing for it to be that way for me, a hope that maybe someday it would and a prayer that I’d figure it out before they were all up and grown, lol! Occasionally, I’d be tempted to beat myself up internally for not feeling the joy here, but that garbage comes straight from Satan and he can keep it.

I knew it was possible, this joy in motherhood, I had faith that it wasn’t just a nice idea — but I couldn’t make it reality. It just hasn’t been there, and it has absolutely nothing to do with my kids or my amazing spouse, nothing to do with my faith or my parenting style or my kids home-or-public-schooling.

Would you fault a dancer for not performing well if her leg was broken?

Broken and not in a cast?

No. No, you wouldn’t. You’d be surprised she showed up to rehearsal at all, and that’s exactly how I feel about myself when I look back. I don’t see the hundreds of meals I wasn’t up to making, that Mr Smith threw together when he got home after a long day of teaching. I don’t see the kids not doing chores. I don’t see the excessive screen-time. I don’t look down on the bedtime stories I had to drag myself into reading. I don’t scoff at my “okay, I can do this one. last. thing,” self-talk as I sang a couple Primary songs after turning off the lights.

Oh, honey, no. You showed up, girl. You tried so hard. You were walking with faith, through the dark, trusting that you were heading in the right direction, noticing those little shooting stars and cherishing those moments for all they were worth. When the sun finally came up outside, you made the best of it, not even really noticing that the lights weren’t coming on inside.

Well, for tonight anyway, they worked, and I got a taste of it. I’ll be back for more. I enjoyed that moment even more than the 6yo enjoyed my musubi… so I created another one a little while later.

Tucking the 4yo into bed.

Playing the “what if” game.

“What if… you grew up to be a wonderful person!”

“Yeah!” she said, “And what if I gave my kids NO candy and didn’t let them go on ANY screens!”

What in the world? Where did she come up with that? Oh, sweet little girl.

“That would be awesome, I guess.”

Her excited, bright blue eyes were laughing and twinkling like only a 4 year old’s can, as she declared with her I’m-up-to-something voice,
“Yeah, I’m totally going to do that!!!”

“Oh, wow, then I’m going to be a happy grandma, I bet!”

“Yeah, and I can fly in a plane and come visit you!”

It was another moment of light-hearted happiness that I helped make by following through on one little thought. MAN, it is SO MUCH EASIER to do life without all this extra baggage.

For. Realsies.

Could it be that there are opportunities to create these all the time? The lights are on all over this house. How could I have missed it?

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