I am one of those annoying, cup is half full people. I just feel more comfortable looking at things from a positivist standpoint. I have had friends in the past that have had clinical depression and of course, I try to be a very empathetic individual so I would listen to them and try to support them. However, deep down inside, I really didn’t understand a thing about what they were feeling. In the back of my mind I was actually thinking:
- Why does she feel that way? I mean look at how beautiful she is…
- How can she say that? Does she not see what a great family she has…
- Wow, what does she have to complain about? Her life is so easy…
Then, one day, last November, my daughter felt compelled to call my husband at work, “Daddy, Mommy won’t get out of bed.”
Something about her tone must have frightened him because, he left work – something that is very difficult for him to do – to come home and coax me out of bed.
There is a background to this – a crazy few years that included the loss of my mother to cancer and my father’s descent into what we now know is Lewy Body Dementia. I was the primary care provider for my father and this took hours out of my already packed day as I homeschooled my children and worked part time.
But, I am not here to explore the reasons for why I could not get out of bed that morning. Reason had nothing to do with it. I am here to talk about the feelings behind that. Because, I clearly remember that morning too. I clearly remember thinking that I could not do one more day. I was done. It was all pointless.
This isn’t sadness. This isn’t grief. I have had my measure of those emotions these past few years. This is more like being haunted, being haunted by emptiness. I could never quite understand why “the nothing” on NeverEnding Story was such a scary concept – now I get it.
I remember talking about it with my friend Laura a few months later. “Why didn’t you call me?” she asked. It’s a perfectly reasonable question but, any question of reason cannot be answered here. Honestly, I had nothing, I felt nothing, and I was nothing. Calling a friend didn’t even figure into this equation.
What freaks me out the most though – I was surrounded that morning by three beings that I would lay my life down for if necessary – my children. Yet, at that moment, I could not even see their huge presence in my life. When I saw the comments Henry Rollins made about Robin Williams – I was instantly transported back to that morning. Was I selfish? Was my inability to get out of bed that morning rooted in a selfish “poor me” mentality? Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t even remember thinking “poor me.”
So, there is an end to this story. My husband and I started touring assisted living facilities that day. We inadvertently found ourselves surrounded by social workers who recognized quickly what was going on – with me. The level of care I was providing for my father was causing me to experience what is typical of a condition known as caregiver fatigue or caregiver syndrome. We chose not to place my father in assisted living at that time but, we saw that it was folly to think we could provide his care all on our own. We have a wonderful home health care provider working with my dad now. She does the brunt of the “caregiving” responsibilities. Consequently, since she has started, I have not had those feelings again.
However, just writing about this one day for our blog’s suicide/depression theme has been difficult. It is clear that there is shame associated with what happened to me that morning. Shame in particular when I think about my children witnessing this. Shame when I hear comments like those mentioned by Henry Rollins (who has now apologized). Because sometimes it feels like being weak, being broken is still wrong. So, we keep it inside and don’t ask for help.