I’ve been sitting on this for quite some time. I wasn’t even sure that I would write about it ever, but then there it was. BAM! Anthony Bourdain one of my all time favorites gone because of suicide. Kate Spade seemingly had it all, and then gone. I remember when I heard about Robin Williams, my heart broke. It happens over and over and certainly we hear about it more when it’s a celebrity, but it’s become so common that everywhere you look, you hear another story. Anthony Bourdain intensified my love of food and cooking, I would like to credit him with the fact that he helped inspire the food side of my blog. He made me want to travel to Burgundy and drink great wine, and he certainly made me laugh a lot. I know nothing of his personal life, I just know that what he brought to those that followed his journey was inspirational. I’m so deeply saddened that he was suffering in silence.
Now the heavy stuff. We have to stop keeping depression a secret. We have to stop making it taboo. We have to find a way to help those struggling and give them hope. We must change the scope of what is happening and try to save a life.
My own journey began when I was a girl. I would get into a funk. I couldn’t describe what it was or why I felt the way I felt, it was just there sitting on my shoulders like a weight. I “handled it.” As I got older there were ups and downs, but I held my own. However, in my late teens I confronted abuse that I suffered as a child, and with that it resurfaced with a vengeance. I did whatever I could to pretend that I was OK. I felt like I was going crazy. I didn’t tell anyone with the exception of my boyfriend, who is now my husband, and I really didn’t even share how serious it was with him or with my family. I was a mess. But once again I kept my mouth shut. You learn to play a part that others want you to play. You learn to be a master actor, and that was easy for me.
This pattern went on throughout my twenties and even into my first years of marriage. I felt happy a lot of the time, but it was always there whispering in the back of my head. After the birth of my first son, the bottom dropped out. They don’t tell you that the happiest moment of your life thus far will be clouded with doubt, fear, and sheer terror. No one told me that postpartum depression is a big ugly beast that can control you for often longer than a year. I heard stories all the time of women who had harmed their children and some would say, “how on earth could any mother do that?” I’m here to say that it could have been me. I could have been a statistic. I think only by the grace of God I made it through. I did not share how I was feeling even with my husband. I was too scared. I was too embarrassed. I thought everyone would think that I was a terrible mother.
Then one day I was sitting on the couch watching Oprah and Brooke Shields was on. She started talking about her postpartum feelings and I began to sob. It was as if she was me. Everything she described I had felt. Every fear she had expressed I had experienced. It was the first time in my life that I began to talk about my feelings and realized not only was this postpartum thing real, depression was alive and well in my life. I finally opened up to my husband and he was able to look for signs with our next two children and with each it got worse. Within four months of the birth of my last son I lost my mom suddenly. That year was rough, really rough. I actually, for the first time in my life, took some medication and signed up to run a marathon. Isn’t that an awesome idea with an infant and two toddlers? NOT! But I did it and I believe that it helped save me.
Fast forward to my early forties. I had to again confront the same demons from my twenties and deal with the abuse of my past. Finally after burying the pain for so many years, it started to win. It was the first time in my life that I truly believed that I wasn’t worth saving. I woke up and went to bed everyday with thoughts of death. I realize that this is very dark and maybe hard to read for those of you that really know me, but we have to understand that there are friends and family all around us right now that have these feelings. We have to be able to talk about the bad, to bring some good. I am not an expert, I am not a counselor, but I am a person who suffers from depression that at times could have caused my death. I’ve worked extremely hard with the help of my husband, my children, and my counselor, who was crazy amazing, to realize that there is always hope. There is always a way out, and there is always someone who can help you. I share this today because I now have a son that deals with the same feelings. Bullying changed him forever and when your child tells you they no longer want to live, you do whatever you can to stop the silence and let him know he’s not alone. Luckily, because of my own experience I knew how to get him help and thankfully he is in a much better place today than two years ago. Although, we take it one day at a time.
This is a secret that kills. Stop pretending that your life is perfect, no one has a perfect life. Stop pretending that only certain types of people suffer from mental illness. I can assure you that depression doesn’t care how much money you make, what kind of house you live in, or who your family is. It can take a hold of anyone, anywhere. Live life everyday with hope. Don’t waste so much time working and miss out on what’s important. Don’t waste any time worrying about what others think of you. Be present and look for signs in those you love. Talk about it! For heaven’s sake, talk about it! Let others know if you need help. Please know there is always hope. We can change the stigma. We can save lives. I’m not unique, I’m just like so many out there who suffer. I’m crazy tired of watching lives be lost. Don’t spend one more moment in quiet. Scream it from the rooftops and I promise healing will in fact come. That, my friends, is today’s dish. I’m grateful for this place where I can share and hopefully help someone. Peace, love, and healing to you.