Meg F

Hi. My name is Meg. 47 year old wife and mother. I am a person living with depression from as far back as I can remember. It is a mild, yet chronic, coming and going dependent on sunlight and seasonal changes, and triggered by just about anything. Been on the same med for quite a while now and thinking it may be time to seek therapy again. I sleep way more than the average person needs to because it feels peaceful and safe. The dark days, unfortunately, are greater than the days that I feel pure joy and contentment.

I have never felt that I did not want to live, but there are some periods of time that it is hard to function, with even the simplest of daily tasks being excruciating to participate in and accomplish. Then comes the guilt. It is just this constant grind of angst, and the process of pushing it away and keeping it at bay. And then on the good days I try to truly acknowledge it and live in the moment.

The reason I felt this urge today to share my story is that the stigma we all talk about and fight against happened to me in a very real and intimate way just yesterday, by my very own family, the people who love me most. My husband and 14 year old daughter. I am very open about my depression and my life is very much like an open book to people who care to listen. It is a way to educate, plus it is healing and therapeutic for me personally to allow myself to be vulnerable and open about my struggles. So we talk openly about my depression as a family, but there is no real acknowledgement there, no real action of their part to know fully what it is like. They are afraid of it, as if it is contagious and they might catch it, and it is just too uncomfortable for them to talk about. They could ask me anything and I would share. I’ve talked quite a bit, in fact, with my 3 teenage children, so that they know what they could be up against in case the genetics of my family line of mental illness disrupt their lives. So last night they openly mocked me for having “multiple personalities like Sybil”, joked and laughed in front of me about it, and expected that I, too, would not be offended and should join in on the fun. My husband make a crack about me not being normal, and I finally had to say something along the lines of “wow, you certainly wouldn’t make fun of a person living with cancer, but it’s ok to when it is a condition affecting someone’s brain and moods.”

It hurt deeply, but I didn’t let on. I just sucked it in and pushed it away and got over it. But it was very real for me in that moment and just crushed me that they could be so cruel. So I’ll end with a poem I scribbled today, which I sometimes do, out of no where, when I can’t sleep:

She saw the world all around her, but wasn’t in it.

The edge of the cocoon, that thickness of numbness,
existed between her and what normal life looked like.

Beyond her reach.
Where happy people did life.
What was it to feel that?
Only fleeting moments to know.

Yet life happened, or whatever this is called.
Not a wasted life, to be sure.
Blessings and gratitude fill up many a day.
But also guilt.
For the ineptness.

Trapped, she is banging on the window.
Don’t you see her?
Can’t you hear her?
She’s screaming.
No sound.
And she is so tired.
Tired of her.

She sits motionless.
Feeling foolish, but not lonely.
A slug, yet not sad.
Just lifeless. Hollow.
With fake smiles so the kids won’t see and have their lives be less than what they deserve.
Hold it together, please.
Oh joy, to be you.

Thank you for allowing this space to write. It can be very healing!

7 responses to “Meg F”

  1. Barbarita says:

    Don’t feel bad. My 22 year old son & I both suffer from chronic depression and his 26 year old sister can be very impatient and critical of us. I try not to take it personally but it is exhausting having to always explain it to her and always feeling judged. I am sure it is just a defense mechanism since she does not know how to support us.

  2. sarah says:

    I’m so sorry, Meg. Sometimes I feel it’s hardest to make our families understand. My husband used to say, “I don’t understand. You’re fine all day at work and then you come home and it’s gone.” That was a long time ago during my darkest episode yet, but I can tear up just thinking about it. If I had cancer, he would be thrilled when I had more energy and understanding when I couldn’t be up and about acting like myself.

    Your story is a lot like mine. I’ve been on one med since 2006 with an added med for the last two years, but lately I can’t even pick up around the house and have a hard time being kind to myself because I say “you’re a stay-at-home-mom with one kid at school all day and the other at school in the a.m. and you can’t even do that well.”

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Heather says:

    Thank you for sharing the heartache the stigmas placed on those of us with mental illness especially when the stigma comes from those we care about most, those we look to for support.

  4. Audra says:

    My family reacts similarly to my bipolar disorder. I don’t feel upset, but I wish they’d try to listen when it’s hereditary and they have a chance of possibly having a mental illness. I would hate for it to smack them in the face and cause them more grief when they can see how I manage myself through doctors to be as well as I can be. My dad has it and my eldest daughter does as well. I don’t mind people who are ignorant to mental illness because they don’t know, but my family should be well versed on the subject. I will not give up reaching out but I will pick and choose my battles. My only advice to you is to be vigilant in advocating for better understanding and compassion to others and your family. That’s all we can do is try. Best of luck to you!

  5. Rachel S says:

    Hi Meg, I’m moved by your story and I thank you for sharing your hurt so eloquently. I, too, know what it’s like to live with depression, specifically seasonal-affective disorder (I’m counting the days til Spring!) I’m currently taking a college class and doing a project about stigma surrounding mental illness. I wonder if I may have your permission to share your post with my class as an example of stigma within a family? Thanks for considering and I certainly understand if you’d rather me not share it. -Rachel

  6. Phyllis says:

    I come from the opposite end of that spectrum where my family coddles and feels guilty for every negative emotion I’ve ever had. If I’m sad everyone walks around on eggshells, if I’m happy I can see them calculating the amount of time until I crash. It’s a balancing act for my family and for me. The struggle to appear normal is sometimes physically exhausting and if I fail that task it exhausting on a whole nother level. I’ve had to learn to only worry about my mental health from my perspective. It sounds selfish, but it is the best gift I can give my family and friends.

  7. Meg F says:

    To Rachel,

    Thank you for your comments. Yes, of course, you may use my remarks. I’d be honored.

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