About a week ago, with a heavy heart and some trepidation about sharing such a personal topic, I posted The Struggle is Real. The blogging community, my family, local friends, and other online readers responded–overwhelmingly–with support, cyber hugs, words of wisdom, analogous feelings and struggles, and names of books, articles, and blogs that we should read.

One friend commented with "Depression Lies" and pointed us toward The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson.

One friend commented with “Depression Lies” and pointed us toward The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson.

I couldn’t believe the response. Not just the support, but the fact that no one seemed to think it was weird that my daughter and I wanted to share what she’s going through. So, thank you, everyone–you da bomb.

On top of her depression, my daughter was physically sick. I listened to her cough all night long, though I was sure she was sleeping through it. She emerged from her bedroom every morning for more than a week with her hand cupped below her mouth, wakened each morning by coughing up phlegm. She slept a lot and said she didn’t feel well and stay bundled up in a blanket, even on warm afternoons. She didn’t talk much at all. Of course, I thought all the latter–sleeping, bundling, silence–were related to the depression, which they were, but there was more. As it turned out, she had strep throat.

More mom guilt. First, I don’t understand her depression as well as I want to and I don’t know exactly how to help her. Worse, she was quite sick for more than a week before I took her to the doctor. And the only reason I took her was because she said to me (finally), “Hey, mom, wanna see what I’ve been dealing with for the past week?” and opened her mouth in my face, shining her cell phone on the back of her throat.

It was the most disgusting throat I’ve ever seen. Hugely swollen, bright red, coated in pus, sides almost touching, just a tiny opening.

Wow, I remember thinking, she really is sick. It’s not just a fantastic notion of her depressed imagination.

Anyway, the transformation I saw in my baby was amazing as an increased dosage of Zoloft kicked in right about the same time the Amoxicillin did. Mentally and physically healed all at once. Her vibrant self returned.

I was taking an art class after work when my phone rang. I picked up because it was her. “Mama, whatever you do, don’t eat. I’m cooking dinner.”

More like whatever else I had planned for the evening, just cancel it. Cooking dinner? Out of her bedroom? Moving around? Planning and following through with something? Inviting me, ahead of time? There was no way I was going to miss this.

I hurried home after class and found both daughters and the family dog on the couch, starting a movie, waiting for me. It just happened to be one of my favorite movies–What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? I dropped my things and sat right down. Addy said that we were having dinner in the living room. The dinner that she had made was layered dip and chips. Perfect!

I watched Addy just as much as I watched the movie. She was the happiest I’d seen her in weeks. Carefree, playing with the dog, able to sit through the entire movie without retreating to her room. My daughter is healthy and happy, I kept thinking to myself.

By the time the movie ended, it was dark. The girls were tired and said good night. “That was a fun family night,” said Amy, who I know has been concerned about her sister.

Once alone, the floodgates opened. Tears streamed down my cheeks. No wailing, no sobbing. Just silent tears. Not tears of fear or pain or frustration. Tears of relief. And they just kept coming.

I guess I was carting around a bit of stress these past few weeks. I don’t recognize it at the time. I just keep pressing on. Do what needs to be done. But then, when there’s a break in the action, it all comes out. This time, luckily, it came out as relief. Relief that my daughter is healing. Healing before things got worse, healing before something terrible happened.

In the morning, I told Addy about my tears, about how relieved I was to see her acting like her old self again, to see her happy.

“Mom, I just want to do things now. Before, I had to try to talk myself into doing the most basic things–getting up, washing a load of laundry, talking to people. It would take like a half hour to talk myself into something and I’d be exhausted before I even did it.”

I didn’t say anything. Just listened. I need to learn. Learn to understand how this disorder operates, how it affects my daughter. By understanding, perhaps I can be a better support system for her.

“There were, like, several days in there where I was convinced you and Amy hated me. I knew you didn’t. You wouldn’t do everything you do if you didn’t care about me. But, still. I had to put so much energy into telling myself that it wasn’t true.”

This comment made me remember something. “Oh! I made you something in my class.” I went and got the oil craypas water-color relief on fabric. Depression Lies, it said.

“Ha! Good one, Mom! I’ll hang it my dorm room.” She paused and I’m pretty sure she was thinking about the same thing I was:  Yep, you’re going to make it to that dorm room.

“Man, I didn’t realize how sick I was. I don’t really get it until I come out of it. I feel so liberated! I feel happier than I’ve felt in a long time!”

“Well, if wanting to cook dinner is a measure of happiness, then you’re way ahead of me,” I told her, laughing.

“Oh, Mom,” she said, “you da bomb. Dot com.”


**A special thanks to Nerd in the Brain on for reading that first post and bringing more attention to it and this important topic.





11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. theclocktowersunset
    Apr 26, 2014 @ 23:24:35

    Just read a post you might be interested in, let me see if I can link it.


  2. theclocktowersunset
    Apr 26, 2014 @ 23:27:09

    Not quite the same story but one of perseverance and acceptance. Might be helpful to anybody else out there too. Especially those of us that are a little longer in the tooth.


    • randee
      Apr 27, 2014 @ 14:05:51

      Hey, Clocktower, LOVED the link. So well written. Plus, I get what she’s going through. I guess I’m learning. It makes me realize that I shouldn’t use the words “healthy” and “healed” as if the heavy duty depression is gone forever… I’m sure it’ll rear its ugly head again. And again. Each time, we should be better prepared.


  3. nerdinthebrain
    Apr 27, 2014 @ 07:15:48

    I am so, so happy that she is feeling better! That is amazing and wonderful! 😀 I think it’s great that you’re sharing your (and her) story…especially the parts where you’re trying so hard to understand and she’s trying so hard to explain. I think you’re setting an awesome example for families living with depression. You just never know who your openness could be helping. 🙂


    • randee
      Apr 27, 2014 @ 14:07:26

      I like how you worded that – she’s trying so hard to explain and I’m trying so hard to understand. I do feel more knowledgeable about it now. Thanks for reading and commenting and helping to spread some understanding.


  4. gapark
    Apr 28, 2014 @ 13:40:08

    So great to read this after reading the post from last week. So glad we live in a time when there is help for our illnesses.


  5. Anonymous
    Apr 28, 2014 @ 13:40:20

    Such a valuable discussion, Randee. Everyone knows someone living with depression; often, however, it isn’t clear (even to the struggling person) that that is the real issue. I’m really glad that you have offered yours and your family’s experience up for others to learn from. Your honest, sincere and loving story will resonate with so many people. I am sure you have helped many readers.


    • randee
      Apr 28, 2014 @ 14:11:34

      Thank you to whomever wrote this comment. WordPress just tells me it’s “someone” when the commenter is not logged into WordPress? Doesn’t have a WordPress blog? I’m not sure exactly. If you get this reply to your comment, let me know who you are, please.


      • Anonymous
        Apr 29, 2014 @ 10:02:13

        Hi Randee it’s me, Kristin, aka warburk2013 ogmundsonstories. I didn’t realise I wasn’t logged in.

      • randee
        Apr 29, 2014 @ 12:18:10

        Oh, thank you for getting back to me on this. I was wondering who “someone” was and what made WordPress generate it as such. I didn’t realize we could comment without being logged in?

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