On Mental Health

Thursday, October 10th, 2019 at 11:01 am

I slept four hours last night. Or maybe less. It’s hard to say.

Louis woke me up at two. He wanted a new pull-up since his was wet.

I changed him and got back in bed. I turned on twenty minutes of “waves”, intending to heed my mental health nurse’s advice to get back up and do something boring if I couldn’t fall asleep after twenty minutes. But then the waves turned off and my bed was warm while the rest of the house was cold. I stayed in bed, awake – for four more hours until my light-on-a-timer turned on to tell me it was time to start the day.

It’s one of the many paradoxes of depresssion. All I want to do is sleep, all the time, everywhere. But I can’t fall asleep when I have the opportunity – or I wake up frequently and can’t fall back asleep.

I want to eat but nothing sounds good. Or I have no appetite but want something in my mouth nonetheless. Another of the paradoxes.

I simultaneously don’t care about anything and care far too much. I play worries over and over in my head but don’t feel like I even have the energy to take the first step toward resolving them.

Depression affects every part of me. Physically, emotionally, mentally. It affects what I eat and how I talk. It affects how I keep my home and how I parent.

But, in spite of all this, I am often able to keep silent, to just “do the things” in public. To respond, “Great! – and how are you?” when I’m asked how I am. To laugh off the work that it takes to just survive.

But this year, I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t pretend anymore. I was truly not functioning and I knew it. I was putting my children to bed a little after noon and heading to my room myself and staying there – until my husband put food on the table for supper and coaxed me out to put the kids back to bed for the night.

I didn’t have the strength to ask for help.

I waited until my scheduled prenatal appointment and mentioned it to my doctor. He started me on some medication and referred me to a mental health practice. The practice he’d referred me to turned out to be not taking new patients. I didn’t have the strength or energy to find a counselor on my own.

But, by God’s grace, my husband’s workplace participates in a wellness program administered by one of our local hospitals/healthcare systems. Their prenatal nurse navigator contacted me to ask if I’d like to participate in their prenatal program. Now, I’d declined to participate with Beth-Ellen, figuring that I’d given birth twice in the previous three years and knew the basics. And I still feel that way – I’m kinda a pro at this whole pregnancy thing. But pregnancy combined with severe depression? I hadn’t really done that before and I thought maybe the program could do what I didn’t have energy to do – make me an appointment to see another mental health professional.

But what they did was even better. Apparently, they have a mental health program too – and the Mental Health nurse navigator called me a couple days later to get me enrolled and to talk through what was going on. She encouraged me and helped me to identify and take small steps to get through. We visit by phone once a week.

And then there are the people who have responded to my “Not good.” The friend who asked what she could do and then brought my family lunch and played with my kids for hours so I could take a nap on several different occasions. The other friend who brought dinner. Another couple of ladies who baked us muffins and banana bread, supplying several days worth of “teatime” snacks. The multitudes of other women who have spoken encouragement and prayed for us and given us hugs.

Despite my failure to ask for help, God has provided it abundantly.

On this “World Mental Health Day”, I am thanking God that although depression touches every part of me – God’s mercy touches far beyond.


Reader Comments (2):

  1. I’m so sorry for the depression. I’m so thankful God provided help.

  2. Oh my how this post hit home. It could have been about me. I’m empathetic and sorry you’re going through it. I’m glad you’re addressing it too. Not easy stuff.

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