I bought wrapping paper and ribbon for Christmas. They seemed like a good choices at the time but when I brought them home I looked at them and asked myself - when did grey and black become appropriate colours for Christmas wrapping? Merry Christmas, kids. Your gifts were chosen by Bram Stoker.
At least I bought some wrapping; I wasn't entirely sure that was going to happen. Lately, things have been not so good around here. I've talked recently about some of the reasons I've been finding life hard, and they're all legitimate reasons, but I've reached a point where it's not really about the reasons any more. Its hard raising kids, I tell myself, and yes of course it is but I'm pretty sure it's not as hard as I've been finding it. The last six months or so things have been sliding downwards - in my mind, I mean - and I think I've finally reached a point where I need to acknowledge that
I'm depressed okay, not quite ready to use the D-word yet I don't feel like myself any more. I'm doing what I absolutely have to do, but I can't face doing anything else. Worse - I don't even want to do anything else.I can't be bothered. I just want to make it to the end of the day, and then I want to go to sleep. Not every day. But enough. If Tom Cruise on Oprah's couch is a 10, and Sylvia Plath in 1963 is a zero, at the moment I'm probably averaging about a four. I've mentioned this to a few people and they always ask me if I'm going to hurt myself or the kids and the answer is no. That's not what I'm trying to say at all. But everything feels grey. Life is like driving a car through fog. It's possible, but it's hard work and nothing is in focus.
It's an impossible thing, trying to think rationally about your own mind. I've found it so, anyway. Especially when things alter slowly - like they have for me- it doesn't feel possible to separate out how the world seems from how the world is. How can I possibly know if my perceptions are skewed? What I mean is: I don't feel like I'm looking through a grey filter. I just feel like the world is grey. And I assume that everyone else sees it as grey too. I don't feel depressed; I just feel like the world is an immensely difficult place to live.
It's only recently I've started to think: I don't think everyone else around me is experiencing things the same way that I am. At first, I just assumed that they were all wrong. (Anybody who knows me in real life will not find that reaction surprising). Or - as a Christian I just assume that probably I should just be praying more, or complaining less, or quoting to myself the verse about rejoicing always. But now - I'm not so sure. I'm starting to think there's something wrong in my head. I can't tell you how much I hate that thought.
I just want to crawl out of my own skin, but I dont' think that's an option. So, after talking to my sister last week (thanks, L), I did an online diagnostic thing instead. The questions were things like 'do you feel constantly overwhelmed? Have you exhibited any of the following behaviours: social withdrawal, irritability, stopped doing things you enjoy? And so on and so on. And I'm reading it all going well of course! Doesn't everybody? Then I clicked enter and it told me: If your score is above 3 you may be depressed. Your score is 24.
I know I should probably speak to a doctor about it, but the thing is - I don't want to. On a good day, I don't feel like I need any help. And on a bad day, I don't feel like I deserve any help. Good day brain tells me - You aren't overwhelmed and miserable, Claudia, you're fine. Bad day brain tells me - Of course you are overwhelmed, Claudia, it's because you're lazy. Of course you are miserable, Claudia, it's because you're an awful person. I don't like bad day brain, but bad day brain is getting a lot of airtime at the moment. Bad day brain thinks that she is the only show in town.
Since this is largely a blog about my kids, I need to say that I don't really think this is about the kids. If it was, I would at least know what to do with it. I could put a label on it - post adoption depression - and maybe make some progress and get past it. I want to be past it. But this? I think it's just me, independent of them. I've been frantically googling anaemia and hormonal imbalances and all kinds of other ailments that I wouldn't really wish on myself, hoping to find an answer to why I feel this way that I can live with. Because hey, if I feel miserable because I have a malfunctioning thyroid, I will happily take thyroid medication. Same goes for how willing I would be to discuss my (totally fictional) anaemia with the world. But I have much, much more resistance to the idea of taking any medicine that is just for my mind. I suspect antidepressants would probably help but I'm frightened of them. More to the point, I'm frightened of needing them.
I know that is probably stupid.
Partly - cards on the table, here - it's because I think we would eventually like another kid. Or two. Not right now -oh, please, please, please not now, I
can't can barely manage what I have - but I don't want to burn that bridge. And I have no idea what U.K. social services would think about antidepressants - I don't think they would be impressed. I'm frightened that me doing this now would mean that we never, ever get to have another child. I don't want another child at the moment, and can't imagine wanting another child, but I also know that I probably won't feel this way forever. I don't want to look back in, say, 2013 and hate 2011 Claudia for trying to take care of herself. 2011 Claudia doesn't need any more hate; she's doing a pretty good job on herself already.
Okay, also: I'm frightened of what other people - people I work with, for example, would think if they found out just how poorly I was coping, and I feel like taking antidepressants would be admitting that I can't cope. What little common sense I have left tells me that this is stupid. Mostly because - actually, nobody cares. I don't care what medication other people take, why should they care about mine? But part of what my brain is doing to me at the moment is telling me horrible things about myself, and making me believe that everyone I know thinks those things about me too. Not suicidal bad things, I hasten to add, just averagely bad things like wow, did you hear about how she can't even cope with two small children and a part time job? What a loser. (Shut up, bad day brain).
Also - I'm just ashamed of feeling like this. I'm ashamed of how poorly I'm managing at the moment. I don't want this to be real, so I want to pretend it's not happening. I don't want to click 'publish' on this, because I don't want to admit that I am struggling this much. Maybe it's the questions about whether I'm going to do something drastic that make me feel like there is something horribly, terribly wrong about this. Depression is an illness, apparently, like asthma is an illness, but when I say I have asthma nobody wonders whether I need to have my children removed. (Stop being such a drama queen, Claudia. There's nothing wrong with you that a good kick up the backside wouldn't fix). (Thanks for the input, bad day brain). I don't need to have my children removed; I just want to make that clear. And the fact that I'm assuming people want to remove my children, that people would assume this makes me an unfit mother - yep. That's bad day brain again. I think. Even though it just feels like hard logic. I feel like it says something about who I am, something that I wish it didn't say. But I think that's why I will click publish- because I know I shouldn't be ashamed. Even though I am.
I want to pretend that my relentless negativity is actually a perfectly logical reaction to an impossible world. But the world isnt' impossible, is it? It's nearly Christmas. There are lights twinkling (not in MY house, obviously) and I have adorable toddlers and surely I should be enjoying this time of year? Everyone else seems happy about it all. And okay, even if 50% of them are faking, that's still a lot of happy that I'm not feeling. Realising that my perceptions are probably off is making me question myself more than I can explain. Maybe all of my perceptions are wrong. Maybe Justin Bieber is actually a really talented guy. How would I know? How would I know????
Why am I telling you this? Probably because I don't know what I think about all this yet, and as EM Forster said - how will I know what I think until I see what I write? Although - hang on, just re-read it, and I still don't know what I think.
Have you been through anything like this? Do you know what I mean?
Ummmm.... and Merry Christmas, I guess.