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Laughter is the best medicine they say, and everything I did while pregnant and wearing pink and blue casts was a joke waiting to happen. If I didn’t laugh at myself, I would have given in to the tornado of emotions I was feeling, and let myself be sucked into the cyclone. Resisting this tornado was one of the best training methods for self employment (even though a category F10 would probably best describe a self employment tornado). The laughter could not, however, keep the tornado from constantly churning my emotions all around me like so much dust in the air that I couldn’t see or breathe properly. Emotions like sadness, guilt, anger, depression, frustration and misery. The laughter couldn’t blow the emotional dust away completely, but it was at least kept out of my eye.
I had never actually been depressed before. I know, surprising with all the accidents I just chronicled during my marriage thus far. And, I didn’t even go into the stuff that happened when I was a kid - like the time my younger sister ran over me with my dad’s three-wheel trike. God, now I know what Bella in Twilight feels like!
Apparently, one of the symptoms of depression is that you don’t realize the impact your depression has on your life. For example, I love to read. I will always find time to read. A good mystery can engage my mind, and if I’m lucky my spirit. If the only time I had in my day to read was when I was sitting nursing my newborn, I would coo and read, coo and read. You would think that sitting immobile on the couch with my second born would be a perfect excuse to read voraciously.
I didn’t read one paragraph of one book for at least three months.
Please understand, I’m talking about reading for pleasure. Okay, I read the pamphlets when the baby came about his growth and development, but that was motivated by fear, not pleasure. The cloud of emotions swirled around me too fiercely to allow simple pleasures like reading.
I finally accepted that I was depressed. I had never experienced this, so I didn’t know what was happening, but actually, that was a good thing! After about a week of sitting on the couch with my feet propped up, watching mindless T.V. reruns and zoning out into my depression, my wonderful partner gave me an emotional kick in the ass by telling me he was going back to work.
“No!” I said. “Who is going to play with Evan? Who is going to make his lunch? Who is going to watch him while I . . . while I . . . “
I saw this bewildered, sad look on my wonderful husband’s face as he walked away. I realized then that I wasn’t “Mom” anymore. Hell, I wasn’t “ME” or any of the other countless titles I held in what was considered ‘my life’. I was feeling sorry for myself - rightly so in my opinion - but my family was suffering, and so was I. I saw in that instant that by giving in to my depression, I was actually being quite selfish. I mean think about it. I was not permanently disabled, I was not ravaged by disease, I was not a woman living in a Middle Eastern city! I had to mentally shake myself and say, “Get Over It Woman! If you can still move, you better start doing it, otherwise you are going to get stuck like this - physically AND emotionally!”
Here was my first life changing realization - I have complete power over how I feel and act. There would be many more to come as I hopped through this unique journey, and they all helped me gain the confidence to take a left turn from safety and choose the rocky, uncertain road toward my dreams.
So, I crawled on the floor - hey, I could use my knees - and rolled the baby hotel over so I could sit on my butt and play. The look on my son’s face almost made me dive into the swirling cyclone, but I thought crying right then might make him realize that mom had really flown the coop! I felt better, I felt in control and I didn’t feel depressed anymore (not until I had to pee again 5 minutes later). I still couldn’t walk, and hadn’t a clue how I was going to make lunch, let alone get through labor, delivery and caring for a newborn, but I had gotten used to baby hops with my walker, so I decided to take it one hop at a time. I now know the power and purpose of the saying, ‘Fake it ‘till you Make it’, only I now say ‘Keep walking like you know where you’re going, and you will surely get there.’
One thing in particular that my husband did that day and once a week during this ordeal helped tremendously with my frame of mind. He took me out on our patio in those beautiful early fall California days and washed my hair. I could only stand on one leg long enough to give myself a sponge bath once a day - I was not able to do many things, and I was determined to be clean while doing them - but I could not stand long enough to wash and rinse my long hair. I certainly couldn’t take a shower until both casts were removed, and picture me trying to get in a bathtub while keeping both legs out of the water.
I’d drown next.
So, until my first cast was removed seven weeks into this ordeal, the one thing I looked forward to most was my weekly hair washing. I learned to celebrate the little things in life.
If your man has never lovingly washed your hair for you, ladies, you are missing one of the truly sensual experiences in life. Too bad we couldn’t take advantage of it. Picturing further intimacies with my husband while I had an 8 month pregnant bump, a pink cast on one leg and a blue cast on the other is enough to induce belly shaking, pee my pants, crying fits of laughter. Amendment to my previous depression rule: the best things for depression are laughter AND action!
Building with Lego’s helps too.
~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Say Bump and Take a Left
[Next installment tomorrow. All interested parties meet back here to join me for an interesting smell?!]