Friday, July 25, 2008

the truth, vol. 1

hi. this is me. and this is me telling the truth. by writing this post i am breaking at least two of the unofficial rules i've developed for myself since traveltwin and i started this blog. first rule: no pictures of myself (too embarrassing.) second rule: no talking about depressing stuff. you see, depression has become kind of a bad word in my family ever since i was diagnosed with it almost 5 years ago. so i guess this blog was a place to present my happy family: cute kids, cute husband, cute stuff that i see and like...but the truth is that i'm leaving a huge part of my life out.
a few posts back i wrote about how much is the right amount to share in blogland. i guess i was searching for boundaries and wondering if i should talk about my depression in a place which i've strived to make cheerful and happy. i wanted to have one place in my life where people didn't know me as "that depressed chick." or worry about me, or any of the stuff that comes along with depression.
here is the truth. i just want to get it off my chest.
my names is jo****. i've been married 6 years and a mom 5 of those. i've been depressed all of them (lucky husband, huh?) i've gained a lot of weight since i became depressed. i'm not going to say how much, because even in this spirit of truth-telling, it's just too embarrassing. hence, the no pictures of me on the blog rule.
dealing with depression for most of the past six years has led to some interesting challenges: i've lost the ability i used to have to be completely at ease with people and to make fast friends. depression has driven me inside, into the dark, of my own house and my own mind, where, a lot of times, i'm ashamed to say, i've missed out on things because the thought of going made me nervous, or because i didn't want people who knew me when i was healthy and fit and happy to see what i look like now (i know, vanity, vanity.) one of the main problems for me about dealing with depression while being a stay-at-home mom has been that simple things seem way too hard to accomplish. for instance: i lost my driver's license because when mine was set to expire, i just couldn't go in and take the test. it just seemed too hard. so instead i didn't drive for about two years of my life. last year was a big milestone for me because i bucked up and took the driving test (it had been so long since my license expired that i had to do the actual driving test, as in when someone evaluates your driving in your car.) and i got my license back. just being able to get out has helped my depression immensely. another for instance: i can't tell you how many days i would walk into the kitchen, see the sink overflowing with dishes and the counters full of stuff needing to be put away, and just thinking, "i can't do this. i just can't. it's just too hard." when i'm well i think, "i'll just do one load of dishes" or "i'll just put away a couple of things" but the depressed version of me can't fathom that. it is just all too overwhelming.
for a long time i thought, if i can just get back to the person i used to be before i was depressed, things would be so good! it's taken me years to realize that that person is gone, that i can't ever be her again. i can get better, i can even recover (hopefully) from depression someday, but i can never be the person i was before all this came into my life. all i can pray is that eventually it will make me an even stronger, better person than i ever was before.
thanks for reading my confession...i'm not giving up on the happy family/cute stuff blog, i just wanted to be able to talk about this too. and having you here means so much to me.


Zoe said...

Well I think you're great and you look lovely in your pic, did you get your hair cut? I hate putting pictures of me on my blog or anywhere so I think just because we're women we worry about that! Anyway I just wanted to let you know that I am always here for you, I know I'm just starting to get to know you but I'm glad I'm lucky enough to, especially to be your visiting teacher so I hope you take advantage of me and let me know whenever you need anything. Anyway I hope you get feeling better, I'm still feeling rough but oh well what can you do! Well take care and always remember how amazing you are!

jomama said...

thanks zoe, you're so sweet.
um. i cut my own bangs. yikes.
and i'm so lucky to have you as my visiting teacher.

Jim said...

Hi Jo,
It always seems a little odd when I attempt to convey something meaningful or emotional in a semi-public setting. Thank you for your honesty. Most of us have things we would rather not have other people know about us, so you have taken a brave step that many of us don't dare take. I think many people look at others and say, wow, what a great life they must have, or "wouldn't it be nice to have a perfect house/yard/car/clothes/etc. like so-and-so." When the reality is that we all have our own issues that we deal with. Anyway, you are a great mother, wife, sister, and daughter and have so much to offer. I guess I'm in no position to give advice, but hang in there and take one day at a time and know that we love you.
Your bro,

Natalee said...

If I were your neighbor I would come over right now and give you a big hug! Such a sweet post, Jo. I am learning it is healthy and realistic to be honest and not portray ourselves different than who we really are. When Steve and I have shared personal struggles with others we find a network of support and come closer to those around us. There is also an element of healing in that too. You are a beautiful person Jo and I have always admired your creativity. I love you!
A little off the topic...
I love your camera. I want one!

jomama said...

thanks for your kind words. you are right. we never know what someone is going through behind closed doors, and i think that one of the good things that has come to me from my depression is that i judge others a lot less.
thanks! i'll pretend to get a hug from you, ok? i think you're really right about people forming a network of support around us when we share our struggles. just the comments on this post are testament to that! that's a bad thing about depression is that it can isolate you from others and make you not want to reach out. and then it's hard for people to support you because they don't really know what's going on. that's one of the reasons i wanted to write this post. there's still somewhat of a stigma about depression and it's something people don't usually want to talk about...this needs to change.
thanks for all your wonderful comments!

D'Arcy said...

Jo. I personally think this was an important step for you to take. I do not struggle with your struggles. I am not going to pretend to understand them. I have had a mother who deals with depression, so from that perspective I can get how hard it is for the person and the ones living with the person.

In my recent life I've been dealing with some things that for a long time I just didn't think I could write about on my blog. My blog was supposed to be about travel and fun and laughter and it is occasionally, but lately I find myself digging deep to the core of many of the things I realize I just don't know anymore.

I used to think I had every thing figured out. I used to be this perfect mormon girl, this return missionary, this gospel doctrine teacher, this stalwart strong member of this community that has defined my existence for so long. People can't understand how this could change. People can't understand how I have so many deeper issues and questions and ideas about who I really am. People just haven't gotten me lately and because of that I've found that i haven't wanted to socialize, or go to church, or explain why I don't know for sure all the things I thought I knew.

It's been a hard year for me.

But it's been a really good year too because I have made great blogger friends who didn't know the old me. They just know this me and they like me. that's been a saving grace.

Also, processing these ideas have really helped me work through things, to think deeply, to not be afraid of who I am becoming.

This is an important step. And while your blog will always be delightful and fun and have a sense of style mine will just never reach, it can also be a safe place to get who you are out there. It matters, it really does.

I am glad you have taken this first step my friend, and I hope you feel good sharing, because I feel relief in even reading your words and seeing the small things that will be good to talk about.

Your openness and honesty are beautiful to me. As are you.

jomama said...

thank you, thank you for your comment! i'm so sorry that it's been such a rough year for you, but i want you to know that i really admire the courage and honesty that you've displayed on your blog. in fact, it's helped me to come to terms with sharing my hardships on mine. so thank you, dear friend. i'm so glad to have you in my life!

Anonymous said...

Dear Jo,
I think you are a very brave woman. And you are such a good mother--your kids are so good. I think sharing your struggles on your blog could be very therapeutic for you, so I hope you won't stop. It is easy to read other people's blogs and think their lives are perfect--they aren't. Everyone goes thru their own garbage. I almost gave up on my blog because I thought "everyone else's blogs are so creative, and beautiful, and mine is really dumb. Who on earth would care anything about my life as a stay-at-home mom. And maybe most of them don't. In fact, my own family doesn't read it, or respond. They said they didn't want to set up google account. So they didn't. And I pretty much thought, "your loss," but not so ladylike in terms! I have just decided to keep going with it. And hopefully at the end of the year I can get it printed up and bound in a nice book, that I can cherish as a journal. One that will be valuable to my children's children someday, hopefully.
I worry about sharing my "bummer times" because I don't want to bring anyone down, but you have been an inspiration. Life is not all rainbows and bubbles!
We love you so much, and really miss you when we don't see you, but we want you to be comfortable and happy. And if that means staying inside your house and your mind, until you feel you can come out, we'll wait...
Give those kids lots of hugs--especially from Kyra to M.
Love ya,

Lisa said...

I loved you then and I love you now! Did 7 or 8 years really just pass since we used to "hang out"? No matter what is going on in your life, to me, you are always that girl I totally look up to and adore. I admire you for your courage and perseverance.

PS I'm pretty sure every blog that I see (including mine) portrays people as they hope to be perceived...happy, lovely, strong, perfect...and I'm almost positive that not a single one of them is really any of those things all the time or maybe not's refreshing to see something raw and real for a change.

jomama said...

thanks for the encouragement, and thanks for being understanding when i'm not always out and about. it's good to know people like you are there for me.
i'm so glad you commented here! i didn't know you read this blog, so thanks. it does seem strange that it was such a long time ago when we knew each other so well and saw each other all the time, and i'm glad we're still friends. your opinion means a lot to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, my name is Beth, i'm a friend of yours on flickr and i just followed the link on your profile to here.

oh my goodness, it nearly made me cry reading about what you've had to deal with. it's truly awful. i relate to it so much. (i'm dreamincolour on flickr by the way!) i've had very similar problems over the past 2 years and although i'm gradually getting better i'm still finding it hard seeing people as much as i used to, and i havent got a fulltime job. it's so hard. and the biggest part i related to was when you said you want to be who you were before. I think that ALL the time. I guess you're right, we have to accept that the future can never be the past, it will always be different. perhaps in the future you will find a lot more peace again though? motherhood, as rewarding as it must be, must be so so tiring and constant pressure and you are clearly coping so well because your children are a credit to you. the only thing i've found really helpful is trying to live in the moment, one day at a time and trying to forget the past. focus on now and doing whatever you can to feel better. and find the closest friend/family resource you feel most comfortable with and try to confide in them. just one person can change so much. feel free to email me if you like:

And also, you are a beautiful woman. Gaining weight is so often a result of depression and it's a viscious circle. i know how hard it is to get motivated when you feel so down. But small things make a big difference.


Beth x

jomama said...

beth (dreamincolour:) ),
thank you so very much for all the sweet things you had to say! (i'm a big fan of your photos, by the way.)
just knowing that there's someone else out there, struggling but still plugging onward, it's helpful.
i hope you are currently doing well in your struggle.
everyday is a battle for me, but that makes it even sweeter when i have a good day.
i might just take you up on that email sometime, and thanks for taking the time to comment on here. it meant a lot to me!

Katherine said...

Jo, you're so strong. It takes a lot to put the real you out there in the world. I love reading your blog, you have such a gift with words! Let's get together next week. Miss you.

jomama said...

thank you so much! you're so sweet. let's do get together next week, ok?

Alice Gibbs said...

I understand this post is very old, but I want to say how brave I think you are.

I've been depressed and anorexic for 4/5 years now and I'm only just coming up to 17. im reaching recovery now but I just think the fact people can talk about it... That's fantastic. I'd love to have your strength. Stay strong. Xx