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In the past week, my father called me a drug addict and a friend told me she thought I was depressed and might need medication.

The drug addict thing was a joke, or at least I think it was, based on my last post.  (see here)  The depression thing was totally serious and said with great care and concern.  Though she did preface that statement with the words, “Don’t get mad when I tell you this…” which immediately put me on the defensive (as that lead-in always will), I did not get mad.  I know she’s looking out for me.  And really, can I blame her for thinking that?

My last two blog posts practically scream “Depressed!”  Not sleeping, no energy, body aches, being distracted, sleeping pills, cigarettes….  In “real” life, I’m quiet (definitely not normal for me), moody, and my sense of humor is gone.  Kaput.  I haven’t said anything snarky for a week or more.

So her words rang true, but I denied it anyway.  “Oh no, I’m just tired and my back hurts a lot.  I’ve just got a lot on my mind.”  All true, but there’s more to it than that.

If you don’t know, my house burned down in June, leaving my family of 7 with nothing but the clothes on our backs and whatever junk happened to be piled in my car.  (For that story, see here.)  The months after that were moving to a new house , getting a job after 10 years of being home with the kids, putting my baby in daycare, and adjusting to the hectic schedule of a working mom.  Not to mention making sure my kids were adjusting psychologically to the whole mess.  They were and are.  The resiliency of children amazes me.

My resiliency amazes me.  I think I’ve handled the whole thing beautifully.  I kept my eye on the big picture.  It was stuff.  We are safe.  We have more stuff.  Our church and community helped us so much.  Donations came from everywhere.  We are taken care of.  And yet.

My life is not in my control.  I did not choose the house we live in, the furniture, the clothes the kids wear, or even what brand of toothpaste I use.  That sounds ungrateful.  I’m not.  I am blessed to have so many incredibly generous and loving people in my life.  I appreciate everything they’ve done for us.  I am grateful.

I’m also human.  Control, or the illusion of it, is important to me.  I haven’t felt in control of anything for almost 4 months and it’s very discouraging.

We’re trying to buy a house.  It’s not going well.  Too long a story to get into, but a little common sense would go a long way on the home loan front.  It’s an ongoing process.

I’ve said to myself and to others, “It was just stuff,” a lot since the house burned down.  And it was.  But some of that “stuff” was priceless and irreplaceable.  I hadn’t thought much about those things, probably out of necessity, but I’ve been reminded lately of what we lost.

When Baby Girl gives me her hand print wreaths and paper plate fruit baskets she made in daycare, I remember all the kids’ kindergarten projects that were destroyed.  I think of the binders full of my autistic son’s work, marking the progress from age three to age 10, reminders of how insanely proud I am of him and his success.  When the kids bring home their new school pictures, I think about all the sports and school pictures that I lost.  When I see Christmas decorations coming out in stores, I remember all the homemade ornaments my kids made and the special wedding ornaments my husband’s grandmother brought from Austria that won’t be on our tree his year.

We accumulated a lot of mementos in the first 12 years of our marriage that I’ll never see again.  I don’t remember them until something reminds me.  Lately, everything is reminding me and I’m sad about it.  When I’m sad, I go into my own head.  I tend to ruminate.  I can’t blame my friend for her concern.  I guess I am depressed.

Do I need medication?  I don’t think so.  I know what chronic depression looks like and this isn’t it.  This is grieving, in a sense.  I didn’t have time to grieve for what I lost.  I was too busy getting our lives back to normal.  Now that we’re settled into our new “normal,” I’ve had time to reflect and all the feelings a “normal” person would have felt while watching her life go up in flames, have finally made their way to my brain.  I didn’t cry that night or since and I won’t.  I’ll do what I’ve always done when I’m upset.  I’ll mope about it for a couple of weeks and watch an especially sappy movie and cry over that instead.  It’s my way.

Medication would make it easier.  A little pill that will even out all the emotions I’m feeling, leaving me with the desired “whatever” attitude.  No doldrums,  but no exhilaration either.  No thank you.  Far too many people pop up a pill to escape feeling anything.**

Life isn’t always easy.  I don’t want it to be.  I want the pain, heartbreak, and failure.  Then, when the joys and blessings come, I appreciate them all the more.


**Disclaimer:  Clinical depression is a serious condition that requires medication.  If you are on antidepressants, please don’t leave me an angry comment.  I know some people need medication.  My problem is when it becomes a solution for a temporary problem or when it is used unnecessarily simply to make life easier.  

36 thoughts on “Depression

  1. you? clinically depressed? No way.

    I may not have ever met you in person, but even from your writing I can’t see how that could be. You have too much joy.

    Grieving is exactly what you’re doing – and it will probably go on for a while. But you are not depressed 🙂

  2. Depressing events happen and I think you are more than entitled to be feeling the effects. It takes so much energy to be as positive and supportive as you have been to your family throughout this time. It is perfectly natural and ok to grieve, alas it is also utterly exhausting. . . all best wishes, keep talking, keep writing, and, if I could buy you a cup of coffee I would!

    • Thank, Patti. Writing my feelings down on The Blog helps get rid of them most of the time. Things build up, I mope, and then I purge. Done! I guess you could say I have emotional bulimia.

      Strike that last part. That sounds awful. Ach, I need more coffee…

  3. Erin, as Rebekah said you are not CLINICALLY depressed, you may well be depressed.
    It is only hitting you now about the house, and the situation you are all in, but its only temporary, and that’s is how you will have to look at it.
    Also, the more you think about it the worse it will get, it will be hard but try and let everything go over your head, block it out.
    I am going through this with my wife for the past 6 months, it is hard, but we are getting there.
    Good luck and keep the chin up 🙂

    • Thanks for the advice Harry. i know it’s a delayed reaction and that it will pass. I’m too busy to dwell on it too much, anyway! I hope you and the wife find your happy place soon. Good luck to you, too, my friend!

  4. Oh, boy. Do I understand the lingering effects of grieving and loss. While I don’t want to blog on your blog, let me just say how glad I am that you are all okay. The effects of shock, trauma and loss are something that are, in my experience, as individual as the grieving process. It takes as long as it takes. Agree with Rebekah, although I am in no way a professional and do not claim to be, it sounds situational. That’s a lot to endure and a lot to lose in the midst of taking good care of all the children and yourself.
    In conversation with a friend recently, she said the most shocking suicides are those no one spoke of: one day a professional, positive person with no outward mention of any depression or suicidal thoughts is suddenly gone forever. Now, I know you are nothing even near that level of despair but only mention it because suicide is like depression, another one of those “we don’t talk about it because it’s akin to airing dirty laundry” taboo topics. Erin, thank you so much for sharing yourself with such candor. You have no idea who or how many may take comfort from what you share.
    Including me. You have just inspired me to write something that’s been on my mind for sometime and I could easily rant about it but will try to produce something more thoughtful on the matter. In the meantime, why oh why, is it called “mean” time, I changed it to “kind” time years ago but nobody listens to me anyway, LOL So, I hereby say once again, in the kindtime, know you do not walk alone and that there is no easy quick fix answer but I believe your sharing is part of your own solution. Thank you for honouring us by sharing with us.
    Kindest Regards,
    Janice (Aurora)

    • Thanks, Aurora. “Kindtime.” I like it. I think candor is the way to go. No point in sugar-coating things if you want to improve them.

      I look forward to your post, as always.

  5. Good post. You certainly have a valid reason to feel some level of depression, anxiety or grieving as you call it, with the situation you have been through. But you are right in that it is temporary and its cliche, but time really does heal. I’ve been walking around in this sort of very mildly depressed state for a few years. I don’t think its serious and it comes and goes, but like you I don’t want to take a pill to “even me out”. I’m not sure it’s even depression or some form of total mental exhaustion from the day to day grind of work and kids and life and the economy and everything else that we deal with. I know you can relate to that with your kids and a job! I think what’s important is to keep tabs on how you are feeling and understand the reasons. It sounds like you have that under control.

  6. Momfog – grieving is to be expected. I moved from my family and friends (certainly not anything as traumatic as your loss of home and “stuff”) but I’ve been grieving as well. Sometimes I am angry, sometimes just sad. I’ve gone the antidepressant route in the past – and as you describe – there is no more weeping from either joy or despair.
    Buck up, my dear, allow yourself to grieve or you’ll never be able to move on.

    • I also live away from my family and friends and that made this worse. I’m bucking up nicely. Concentrating on moving into a house I choose is helping with that. If only we can make it work.

      Thanks! I’m off to read your post.

  7. Your Spoonulas are on their way ~ they are not your old ones, and these are orange ~
    but maybe they can replace the ones you lost ~

    • lol! New Rachael Ray Spoonulas go a long way in helping with the grieving process. No, they are definitely NOT my old Dollar Store/Wal-Mart spoons. The day is getting brighter already.

  8. Erin,
    Without getting into any detail I too lived through a house fire. I was a survivor but not all were. We lost everything. In other words I have been there in the state you are in now. That state is called grief.

    Grieving significant losses is not a linear process. It’s a rollercoaster ride through 5 stages of grief detailed by Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Those stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You can and will experience some even all of them in a single day, week, month, year.

    Following a sigificant loss the clap trap we have been inculcated with is — get up and get over it. That’s so those who haven’t been through it feel better – Ha! In earlier times humans were much smarter — they acknowledged and honored grief and that’s what you ought to do now.

    Acknowledge that we are our own healers and heal yourself by honoring your grief. You are without doubt a fine writer, continue to express your grief in your writing, and you will heal.

    With much love,

    P.S. You are a sensible person and I know if you need medical help that you will get it.

    • Thanks for the comment, TiTi. I already feel better after writing it down. It doesn’t hurt that I get so much encouragement from my readers, either. Blogging is therapeutic, after all.

  9. Mom,
    I think you know what I am about to say, but I am going to say it anyway. Your grief is normal and necessary. Your friend is right, but so are you. We all grieve in our own ways and in our own time. Please allow yourself to grieve without feeling guilty. Sometimes well meaning friends will attempt to stop us from grieving, because they do not like seeing us suffer. If this drags on meds could help, but I am with you that meds just numb what we have to work through in order to live. Life is hard and then we die. Sounds horrible, but it is truth. Once accepted we learn (as I have read that you do this) to seize the day, love our moments, and rejoice over all the small blessings that come our way each day, but we do this best when we acknowledge the reality of our painful moments. You are on the right path–

    I pray some of the folks on your children’s teams will scan you a copy of some of the team photos, I know it won’t replace them all but maybe folks will be just a generous with fun photos of your children. Wish I was there where I could start a campaign for Momfog’s kiddo picture hunt. What a yummy inexpensive Priceless Christmas present. May God make it so. 😀 I also pray God give you special memories and wonderful new treasures for your tree that make a bandage over the boo boo’s that this horrible event have left.

    I understand the whole having my breakdown after the trauma is over. I do the same thing. I don’t seem able to let go and experience the pain of my life until I know I have everyone nailed down a bit. I also get the bit about watching some dumb movie to cry. I was watching the doofy movie, “While you were Sleeping,” and I started crying over the silly stuff she was going through–that is how I started crying over my son being hit by a car while on foot.

    Sending you Hugs and prayin for a few good sappy movies to help you release all the pent up stress and grief.

    • I knew I wasn’t the only one who watched those stupid chick flicks for an excuse to cry! (By the way, ‘The Help” is an excellent movie for that, in case you haven’t seen it yet.)

      Thank you so much for the hugs and prayers, Shonnie. Also, for letting me know i’m not the only “weird griever.” 🙂

  10. I’m late, but I’m with you. I think you are grieving too. I’d avoid the pills if at all possible (but not is you really need them) – I tried them when I was in my quagmire, and hated them. I couldn’t think. Psychologist said that is often a side effect of taking medication for depression when you are actually not depressed, as something designed to balance a chmical imbalance will cause an imbalance if the imbalance doesn’t exist in the first place. Made sense to me.

    A doctor once said to me it can be difficult to tell the difference clinically between sadness and depression. Now, a psychologist recently said to me that was rubbish and times have changed and I am not a member of either profession, so I’m happy to let them fight it out.

    I’ll admit I was a little concerned over your “supplies”. 🙂

    It will get better. If your back isn’t too bad and you can find the time, WALK! It might even help your back, actually – strengthens the muscles.

    • I seriously need to clarify my survival kit in my next post. I do not take medications at all unless I really need them. I’d say I only take meds 1 or 2days a week, if it all, and NEVER all at the same time. The coffee and cigs excepted, of course. I keep those flowing with a steady stream.

  11. I am sorry you’re depressed. As I began reading this post, I thought, “she is in a state of bereavement for her home and belongings, her life as it was,’ and then you said it yourself. It’s natural. Horrible, but natural.

    As for medication for depression, in my opinion it should only be taken as a very last resort and only you can know if and when you reach that stage. I’ve been on anti-depressants many, many times… but I’ll leave those dots running there.

    Hugs, should you need them.

  12. Beautiful and poignant post. I am just now learning of your struggles and can’t imagine going through all of that. You are triumphant. Yes, you are grieving. It would be more of a concern if you were not exhibiting signs of frustration and sadness. Loss barrels us over without warning, and the shock and necessity to carry on, pull us through with quite a force. It is after the dust settles, that we are inundated with the dizziness that comes with reflection of what has actually happened. It’s too much to take in all at once. Medication is an amazing tool, and one that I have turned to in the past, but in my experience, it has elongated the whole process.

    • Thanks, Emily. I hope all is well with yoou. I do not judge those who use medication. I know I keep saying this, but I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m putting them down for using antidepresants. Everyone is different and has unique needs, whether it be ranting, therapy, or medicine.

  13. Saying a prayer for you. Healing takes time. Don’t rush it. Allow yourself time and space to grieve. It’s necessary in order to move forward and enjoy the blessing to come. It’s good to have friends who are concerned, isn’t it? Must make you feel loved.

  14. I want to thank you for even having the courage to write about depression…so many peole steer clear of it. I guess it has a stigma attacjed to it. I can not speak for anyone else, of course, but I know that I have struggled with it. I never lost anything in a house fire, I cannot imagine what that must have been like for you and your family. I did lost my sister this year, and trying to recover from that loss has been a major task for me. I have good moments and then again I have moments of struggling with it.
    I find your blog completely refreshing and honest…

  15. My family and I too lost our home and all of our belongings in a house fire in the predawn hours of New Year’s Day, 2010.. Sadly, I know exactly what you’re going through. We were on the news on the day of the fire, thanking God that we were all safe and it was “just stuff”, but, as you know, it’s just not that simple. My grandma’s pearls, my grandpa’s sweater, the kids’ photos and crafts — so many little pings on your heart for what was yours. Fortunately, most people have no basis for understanding this. One day at work, I woman sent out an email that she had lost a bracelet, “If found, please return it has great sentimental value.” Multiply that times every cherished treasure and it takes it’s toll on your emotions. Not to mention the stress and frustration of dealing with the folks at “like a good neighbor” (they’re not, trust me). Anyway, I’m not trying to bring you down, I’m really not, I just wanted you to know that I completely understand. I prayed that God would comfort you and help you to focus forward, and let the joy of each new day shine light on the dark moments. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

    • Thanks so much, Jodi. So few people really understand what it’s like. While it doesn’t rule my life, I still have some sad days. Thanks so much for the verse.

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