Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Ghost of Depression Past

I am still afraid of ghosts. The ethereal presence that haunts me is the possibility of falling back into the abyss. I am surrounded by signs of strength - family, faith, friends, career - but I wonder if inside I am fragile. Is my seemingly solid mental state actually more tenuous than I imagine? This ghost is real; I have experienced depression more than once. Both of my documented episodes of depression seem linked to an obvious reason. The first was postpartum - birth of a beautiful, healthy, happy baby followed by bouts of uncontrollable bawling. The friends who called to congratulate me were terrified that something horrible had happened when their cheery "hello" was returned with heaving sobs. My dear mother flew across country and stayed with me for almost a month. When she finally had to return to my father before he wasted away from lack of properly cooked home meals, I was still a mess and looking back on it I'm sure walking away from me at the airport as I cried was probably one of the hardest "mom moments" my own mom ever experienced. I didn't think I could survive that ...but I did.

I regained my footing, put it behind me as an isolated episode. But the ghost remained. When I became pregnant with our second child, the thought of the ghost so terrified me that I ended up in therapy during the pregnancy. The pre-post-partum variety of depression - perhaps a new entry in the DSM-IV! I just knew the inevitable post-partum depression would be the end of me. There were other factors involved this time as well. Hubby, Ex-Marine, was a current Marine at that time and his job was keeping him away from us at a time when we needed him. That same job had taken us to a foreign, not Japan or the Philippines or Guam.....Maine! To a "Girl Raised In The South" being dumped in Maine and finding myself pregnant with an absentee husband was scarier than the special effects ghosts in any horror movie. This ghost was real. But the second child came and the post-partum depression didn't. So I survived that too.

But now I wait. Waiting with this ghost is waiting for the other shoe to drop. That sense that it's going to happen. It's just a matter of time. The ghost scares me. I evaluate events in my life and wonder, "Is this bad enough? Is this the thing that will send me tumulting into depression?" A child struggling in school - is that bad enough? Financial hardships - will this do the trick? Unrelenting stress from responsibilities both loved and hated ...will one of those things be the straw that breaks me? I also avoid considering how some episodes of insanity in my earlier life may have not really been just the typical antics of a walk on the wild side teen/young adult but may have been the first signs, the foreshadowing of coming madness. So I tread lightly through my current life and I wade infrequently and with great trepidation through the pool of memories of my old life so as not to awake the ghost. The ghost has me scared and hesitant - afraid of the battle. But the ghost has not yet won. I have survived all of far.

This post has been submitted to the Write Away contest for October hosted at Scribbit - this month's theme is guessed it - ghosts!


Scribbit said...

What a powerful post--this is the kind of thing I was hoping to see when I put the topic out there, thank you for sharing something so personal and difficult, so many different kinds of "ghosts" out there . . .

Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings said...

This was a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing.