Saturday, May 1, 2010

Part Seven : Depression and Working Through It

Part Seven : Depression and Working Through It

At the beginning of each part in this series you will see this little note. I want to remind you that I am not trying to come from a negative space, or a judgmental - holier than thou - kind of place. I’m coming from the place of a mother who knows she has a lot to learn, that she knows she has a long way to go… and that she loves being a mother. I hope that you don’t take anything I say as anything more than my own experience and a heartfelt message. I pass no judgment, and appreciate all mothers and the styles they embrace. I hope to learn something on this journey and hear your stories as well.

I don’t like the word “depression” that implies that I am not satisfied, or that I am unhappy. The truth is, I have never met a mother who did not struggle with a little “depression” but that would not tell you - and show you - that she loved her kids and that they were the light of her life.

Often, I have written in my journal… “My world is so small and I feel much too deeply”. And maybe that sums up how I always feel. It’s not that I don’t like my world small… or that I want to feel any less deeply. But because things are this way, it’s easy to be heartbroken.

It’s easy to loose yourself. The parts of you, that you used to be. The parts of you that are independent of mothering and being a wife. It’s easy to forget that you are still, you. Single, simple, feeling, you. I struggle to maintain some inkling of that part of me… the part that is “Just Johnna”.

When I met my husband, any other friendships I had went on hold. I think that’s somewhat normal… And then when we found out we were having Lydia, I became enraptured with what that meant. I was young, and got my feelings hurt easily. I was nervous, unsure. Then we had Rooster 2 years later and not even 2 years after that, we had Layla. I think I can count on one hand the times I ventured out to do something that didn’t involve at least one member of my family. They are my security blanket. The world is scary without them there to comfort me.

I’ve never been good at having friends. Not that I don’t love the people in my life, outside of family, that have been there for me. I just don’t know how to balance it. And I struggle with overwhelming guilt when I have a “good time” and my little family isn’t there. Also, I find myself to be a bit of an -- umm -- prude. I guess. I don’t drink and I don’t think drinking or bars or a club scene is “fun”. I don’t like to shop - unless it’s for some cute little vintage jars or a pretty sundress for the girls. I like to spend my “me” time being quiet and I am no longer good at opening up to people. At least not people who are standing in front of me.

Sometimes I feel like, without my family, I would be - literally - nothing. That everything I am is so bound to them, that one day, when they are all in school and John is at work, and I have nothing to do for any of them, I will loose myself even further.

But then, my world is small, and I do feel much too deeply.

In an effort to embrace the part of me that is just me and reclaim some of my oomph, I decided to start writing again. To write poetry and songs that both reflect being a mother, and also focus on the things I love. I decided to embrace my love for photography and expand out -- not just take photos of my babies, but of the beautiful world we live in. I decided that I would let go of not fitting in… and find a place where I did. And I am not ashamed to say that I found that online. I found a whole group of people who are in the same place I am… and that enjoy the same things I do, love their families and still make time to be themselves.

Sometimes, I still get down, I still get heart-broken… but taking the steps to find “Johnna” -- made me realize that I am going to be all right. And that I can always make it through the day.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and hear your advice and insight… Us mothers need to come together and embrace our similarities and our differences so that we can be united and more supportive. I’ll encourage you to share here, in the comments or blog about it and share the link. Thanks for taking the time to read. It means so much

Thank you for taking this journey with me, and listening to me ramble on about all this… it felt good, to put it all out there and to have the support of all of you.


Corinne on May 1, 2010 at 5:12 PM said...

I started highlighting sentences in this that I felt spoke directly to me... and then I stopped because there were too many to quote in a comment because it was basically the same thing.
But the big things? The family we've created becoming the security blanket - I so get that. I've done that, I'm living it. The only place I feel safe without them is while doing yoga - and not the getting there, but the there, in the studio, otherwise I worry and fret and without them I become so socially awkward.
And finding the community online - I'm there with you. It's made such a difference in my life, because I wasn't able to find and nourish that elsewhere.
Your writing is sucking me in :) Loving it.

janine on May 2, 2010 at 12:33 AM said...

I totally agree that as children come along a little bit more of yourself seems to disappear. Although I find that as my boys are getting bigger (almost 7 and 4) it's becoming easier to find myself again. The online community has been a blessing to me as well, and there is no reason why anyone should feel ashamed about finding a place there. It's no different than the golf clubs and gyms, and from my personal experience, it's a whole lot more honest - and fun! I love your writing - thank you so much for sharing the good and the bad with us :)

{Amy} on May 2, 2010 at 8:16 AM said...

I totally relate to a lot of what you are saying and I think many, many other mothers can as well. I totally get the online community thing, too. I have plenty of close friends in my "real life" but this little online world means just as much to me and it is a place where I can be myself and I feel like there are so many others just like me--that totally *get* me and share my interests.
XO-thanks for sharing!

Maegan Beishline on May 2, 2010 at 5:11 PM said...

Johnna, this is so beautifully written...and so full of truth! I have totally become dependant upon having my kids around me...I feel like I'm judged less with them near! And I have total panic attacks when we're not together. And then I'll have a moment or two, when I'm listening to music or taking pictures, and I'll remember how good it feels to just be me, too! It is such a difficult balance and right now I need to give my children so much of me. And I can only hope to remember who I am once they need me less.

And I can totally relate to finding connections here online. Goodness, there's just so much to comment on here...and I agree with Corinne, there's just too much that I relate to to touch on all of it. I'm just so glad to have met you!

Megan Gray on May 3, 2010 at 10:10 AM said...

I just found your blog via Coffee Shop and I am so glad I did. I could not agree more with this post! I am now just finding people who I can connect with as a mother and as a wife. I am 26 with a 2 yr old and a 3 yr old and it is definitely hard for me to find friends that understand me and my life. And at times I too have felt boxed in and sad that I did not know who I was anymore but as the kids grow so do I. It's because of my kids that I have truly found what makes me happy and what my passions are. I could would not be the person I am today without them and without my husband. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. :)

Rheanne said...

Johnna, your walk is your walk but in saying that I am walking my walk along side of you. There are many ways in which we are diffent but still I am walking right beside you. It is so easy to judge and be judged by those in our physical world but in our online world, people only know what we show them and therefore are more accepting of us.

John and Tina on May 3, 2010 at 11:32 AM said...

I found your blog through CoffeeShop, and boy am I glad I did. I can't believe how much we have in common. I too, am a young mother trying to balance it all. I have had my share of depression/anxiety and have learned that I over-identify with over people. If someone tells me they have a headache, I feel their pain. I have three children 9,7,5. My husband's name is even John. So know that you are not alone. I feel the same way...

sarah said...

johnna i was browsing through your blog and came across this entry and was just blown away by how truthful and raw it is. and how similar your feelings are to my own. i'm not a mother yet but i already struggle with so much of the same worries.
the whole time i read this (and now re-read it) i felt a huge sigh of relief and also the urge to cry, realizing that i wasn't alone. i think i, too, finally found my people...all over the world through flickr :)

amyjo1976 on June 7, 2010 at 6:59 AM said...

It's amazing how when we open ourselves up, we find how many people can actually relate to what we are going through. I find it easier to open up to those online vs face to face. Watching someone respond to what I'm saying can make or break me some days.

I battle with depression & anxiety. I was a young mom. I'm now a proud mom of 4; oldest is starting driver's ed today and the youngest still in diapers. I rarely leave the house without someone with me. At the age of 32, (last year) I finally went to a restaurant, sat down and ate by myself, feeling guilty I didn't have at least one of my children with me. I worry too much what people think of me and not enough of what I think about myself. I can remember what someone did or said to me years ago that hurt me and THEY don't even remember.

However, my children are all outgoing, have many friends, involved in activities, and quite the opposite of myself. I figure I must be doing something right and I strive to make sure my kids have great memories of their childhood & their experiences.

Thank you for such an honest writing. It's nice to know you aren't alone in this big world.

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