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Dealing with Depression (When it’s Not Yours)

It’s been almost two years now since CBG was diagnosed with, and began treatment for, major depressive disorder.

I was the one who urged him to see his doctor to begin with. It can be easy to miss the signs of depression, particularly in yourself. And especially since we all have an idea of what depression is “supposed” to look like, and when it doesn’t, it can be easy to pass it off as something else. Or even worse – as nothing at all.

I’d like to say that since beginning treatment, things have gotten back to normal. The truth is that they haven’t. Yes, there has been a big improvement, but in the last two years we’ve faced a lot of extra challenges. We’ve dealt with CBG being additionally diagnosed with ADHD, then losing his job and going through an extended period of unemployment, before beginning a new job back in late spring. We’ve dealt with me changing jobs not once, but twice in the last year. So to say that we’ve dealt with our share of challenges recently would be a bit of an understatement.

In the interests of honesty, I’ll admit that it’s been a tough go these past two years. CBG and I haven’t exactly been our best selves. We haven’t always been putting the effort into our marriage that we should. Some days, some weeks, some months have been worse than others. But still — we are trying.

Continuing with the theme of full disclosure, I’ll also admit that it’s been tough for me, dealing with CBG’s depression. I know it makes me a bit of a selfish arsehole to say it, but those of you who have lived through a spouse’s depression know what I’m talking about. This is particularly true for those of us (like me) who struggle with their own mood. As I’ve written about before, winter is always a tough time for me, mentally and emotionally. Add to that a depressed spouse and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

I’ve learned a lot in the past couple of years, about having a depressed spouse. I’ve learned how easy it can be to empty your own emotional tank while trying to carry the load for two people. And how once that tank gets emptied, it’s often filled back up with anger and resentment, with a good-sized chunk of guilt thrown in for good measure. I’ve learned that self-care is more important than ever, but can very easily fall by the wayside. I’ve learned that it can be very easy to blame oneself for how your spouse is feeling, even though logically you know that its just stupid brain chemistry to blame. I’ve learned that (for me, at least) it can be very easy to get sucked into the vortex of negative feelings along with your spouse. And when that happens, instead of being able to lift one another up, all you do is pull each other down deeper. Like two drowning people with no life preserver in sight.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. As part of closing the gap and being the person that I want to be, I know that I have to take greater responsibility for me and my own self care. That means taking a step backwards, away from CBG, in order to give both of us the space that we need to figure out our own individual stuff and do something about it. For me it’s about taking responsibility for myself – my thoughts, my mood, my actions – and doing something about them. It’s about encouraging CBG from the sidelines, from a loving distance. I can’t be responsible for the two of us. I’ve tried that route and it hasn’t been good for either one of us. And frankly, that’s not the person that I want to be. And I’m pretty sure that’s not the wife that CBG wants, either.

So (for right now at least) I am focusing a bit more on me. On my own health. My own self care. My own actions and attitudes. My hope is that CBG will be inspired to do the same, but the truth is that if he isn’t, I can’t be the one to wear it. I love him and I love myself too much to allow that to happen.

Closing the Gap

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching lately. This is a good thing, as I’ve realized that I’ve gotten a bit lazy about this. A few years ago it was like I was in a state of almost constant introspection; it kept me in touch with myself and really helped me to grow and be a better person. Lately I’ve gotten kind of complacent, just going through life with blinders on. I would like to say that I’ve been mostly happy and satisfied with life as it is. While that’s true in some areas, in others, the exact opposite is true. I’ve been feeling a lot of frustration and dissatisfaction with certain parts of life. I’ve been feeling stuck. And while it is certainly tempting blame it on any number of outside factors that have been affecting my life, particularly this past year or so, the hard truth is that I’m feeling stuck and frustrated and dissatisfied mainly because of me.

I have in my mind an image of the person that I want to be. I don’t think that realistically I will ever attain that ultimate goal, but there were certainly times in my life that I was a lot closer to being that person than I am right now. The gap between my ideal self and my actual self has widened. Some days its widened to the point that I don’t recognize or even like the person that I see in the mirror.

I’m not looking to be perfect. I may have an “ideal self” in mind, but I’m also a realist. All I really want at the moment is to go to bed at night knowing that I did the best I could on that particular day. Some days that’s going to mean being absolutely awesome. Other days, it might just mean surviving. But for a long time now I’ve been coasting along, satisfied with “survival”, waiting for better days to come. Perhaps even magically appear somehow. What I’ve realized (or re-realized, I guess, since I’ve always known this deep down) is that every day can be a better day. I just have to be willing to work for it.

When I’m 100% honest with myself, I know that I haven’t been doing the work that I need to be doing. The truth is that I’ve been slipping in all aspects of my life. I haven’t been the wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, employee, co-worker, runner, writer, or human being that I want to be. I’ve been making excuses for myself. I’ve been blaming outside forces. I’ve been blaming other people. And sure, my situation, the situation of others, and the people in my life definitely have an effect on me. But I am the person behind the wheel. And while the vehicle stays the same, I can certainly choose which road I take, and the passengers that I take along for the ride.

It’s time to work on closing the gap between the person that I know I ideally can be, and the person that I am right now. The two need to be a lot closer than they have been. I can make that change.

Dissecting The Blob

I wrote recently about how I’ve been dealing with an ugly blob in my life right now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blob. What it is made of. How it grew to be so big and ugly. How best to combat it.

I’d like to be able to report that I’m full of lots of good thoughts, good ideas, and even a solid plan. Hell, I’d settle for a shaky plan at the moment. The truth is, I’ve got none of that right now. I’ve been standing here so long looking at this damned thing that it’s grown bigger, uglier, hairier. Right now it feels almost a little too big to battle. The thing is, though, I know that if I choose not to battle it, that it will grow to an epic size and swallow me whole.

And well….ain’t nobody got time for that. 

I’ve gotten a little closer in the last few days to getting it figured out. Baby steps. The problem that I’m left with, is that I really don’t like the answers. I don’t fully trust my own assessment right now of what might possibly be going on. I want it to be something else. I want the answers, the solution to be different.

Stupid blob.

Life Lessons for my Daughters

As my girls grow older, this parenting thing seems to get more and more complicated. Its funny; I used to naively think that it would actually get easier. And sure, in some ways it is. After all, at 11 and 13 I no longer have to worry about tying shoes or wiping noses or butts or meeting any of those other physical needs that make life with young children so exhausting. Thankfully, because, y’know, wiping my 13 year old’s butt make bit just a wee bit awkward for the two of us. heh.

So even though their practical physical needs are much less, the older they get, the more complicated their emotional needs. I find myself having more and more conversations with them about life, friendship and romantic relationships. Working to meet their emotional needs, and teaching them how to have healthy relationships is far more complex than wiping noses or butts ever was.

The difficulty in teaching them how to have healthy relationships is that I know CBG and I don’t always provide them with the best of examples. Sure, we try to do our best, but there are times when we come up short, as I suppose is the case with a lot of married couples. I’ll be honest…it makes me feel like a bit of a crummy parent. I don’t believe in the ‘do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do’ parenting philosophy; I try to parent by example.

And lately, the example hasn’t been all that great – from either one of us.

When I’m able to push the “I’m a kinda crummy parent” feelings aside and look at things logically, I know that this is an opportunity to teach my girls the realities of relationships. They’re not always perfect. Sometimes relationships are messy and ugly and couples hurt one another. The important part is what happens after the messy bits: the communication. Working things through. Making up. Growing stronger as a couple because of it.

One lesson I want my girls to learn, above all others, is that every mistake is an opportunity to grow, learn, and do better. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s what we do with those mistakes that demonstrate the kind of person that we are. I want my girls to be the kind of people who are able to recognize the error in their ways, apologize, self-correct and move on to better things.

And if that’s the kind of people I want them to be, then that’s the example they need to be provided with. From both their parents.

The Blob


I’m in the middle of dealing with a big blob in my life right now. A blob – you know, a big, quivery mass of ugliness that you don’t quite know how to deal with.

This particular blob seems to be sitting smack-dab in the middle of my life’s path. Not moving. Giving me a bit of a stink-eye, daring me to try to do something about it.

At this point, I’m at a loss as to what to actually do about it. I’m honestly still trying to figure out what this unwieldy, ugly mass actually is.  I know it’s make up of a lot of frustration. There’s also a fairly sizeable dose of resentment in there, too. And you can’t have frustration and resentment without a generous smattering of anger to go along with it. And I’m pretty sure that this big ugly blob is wearing a big old cloak made of sadness, to go along with everything else. And who knows what else at this point.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

I think that before I figure out what to do about this stinking mass, I need to identify exactly what it is. What purpose its serving – the role that it has in my life. And once I have that all worked out, then I can maybe come up with a plan of action for getting it the hell out of my path. Because it’s ugly. And scary. And quite frankly, it’s stinking up the place. Most of all, it’s preventing me from moving forward with my life – to better places. Because right now, this place that I’m sitting, isn’t the place that I want to be. I’m not the person that I want to be. And that blob? Well, I think that has a lot to do with why I’m not moving forward.

It’s time to get this figured out.

Good Things This Week

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and this week in particular I feel like it’s necessary. Not that there’s anything particularly bad going on, just that I’ve been struggling a bit, attitude-wise.

I started a new job back in mid-August (yes, *another* one), and I’ll fully admit that I’m struggling a bit with it. Once again it’s a job that’s completely different from anything else that I’ve done before, and once again, it’s taken me out of my comfort zone. I know that when I’m feeling happy and positive I keep telling myself that I *want* to be taken out of my comfort zone, so that I can grow and improve, but dang, when I do get pushed out of it, I always end up fighting it, kicking and screaming.

What’s up with THAT, hmm?

So while I’m struggling with being patient with the learning process and with staying positive, I thought that it would be good to remind myself of all the good things that have happened this week.

  • The weather has been spectacular. The humidity has broken, the sun is shining, there’s a bit of crispness in the breeze. Now while I would love to hold onto summer for another month or two, I have to admit that fall is pretty lovely too.
  • Both of my girls are loving school. They’re in grades 6 and 8 now, and though it’s still very early in the school year, they are both happy and doing well.
  • Lil’ Mo started gymnastics on Wednesday – and LOVED it. Now, Lil’ Mo is one of those people who has a lot of natural athletic ability but doesn’t always make good use of it. She’s been really into doing just-for-fun gymnastics with her friends this past year. We enrolled her in a recreational class last winter and while fun, it wasn’t quite what she was looking for. We found another one and she attended the first class on Wednesday evening and is officially stoked about it. She doesn’t have any aspirations of being an Olympian or anything, she just wants to have fun and improve her skills. this is a non-competitive, recreational class and seems to be well suited for her. I love seeing her so excited about something.
  • Wednesday was also CBG’s birthday. Because this week has been so dang busy, we decided to postpone birthday celebrations until next week. So while we kept everything low-key for now, we did go out for birthday ice cream on Wednesday night. More birthday fun will follow.
  • I’ve been really enjoying my walks to and from work. It’s about a 4km walk each way, and I have to say, I’ve really been enjoying the longer walks again. It allows me time to just think…to process everything that’s going on right now, work-wise. And believe me, I need it.
  • Date night. CBG and I have been making an effort these past few months to have a dedicated date night during the week. It’s never anything huge or magical, but it’s time we set aside to just spend some fun together. Thursday night we went to one of the local candy stores, looked around, frolicked, and got some treats to take home and enjoy.
  • Girls weekend! This upcoming weekend it’s going to be just me and my girls, as it’s CBG’s away weekend. Definitely looking forward to some quality time with Kiddo and Lil’ Mo.

So there you have it – this past week in review, and some of the good things about it. After putting it all out there like that, things don’t seem so bad.

Besties Back Together

A couple of months ago I wrote about how I hadn’t been in the same room with my best friend in twelve years. We live several provinces apart and although we’ve tried several times over the past few years to get together, we just haven’t been able to make it happen.

It so happened that she was back home this year visiting family over the summer, and I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to let another year pass by without hearing that infectious laugh of hers in person. I planned the trip, and CBG and I headed to New Brunswick over the long weekend in August.

To say that I was excited about seeing her again was a mild understatement.

The second we saw one another, we threw our arms around each other, laughing, and crying. And hugging. And crying some more. It felt so good to be standing there beside her, and in the blink of eye, it was like absolutely no time had passed at all. Everything was exactly the same.

And everything felt right with my world.

We spent an amazing weekend together – not just with each other, but with our husbands, and other old friends that I haven’t seen in even longer. We laughed, we reminisced, we remembered why life seemed so much better when we saw each other all the time, instead of just chatting through random daily text messages.

I owe this woman a lot of credit for shaping me into the person that I am today. She’s the person who helped shape my ridiculous sense of humour, who always encouraged my creativity, and who loved  me through a lot of crazy crap. She’s been there through breakups, my divorce, the birth of my children. Aside from CBG, she is the only other person on this planet who knows it all – and who has loved me through some of the ugliest parts of my life. No, we haven’t been in the same room much over these last years, but our friendship has endured, in spite of that. Hell, not just endured – but grown stronger. A true friend…which, as I’ve come to learn in the last decade or so, are a pretty rare thing. Proof that a best friend doesn’t always have to be in the same room as you. But it sure as heck feels wonderful when they are.

And I can promise you one thing – it won’t be another twelve years before I see her face in person again.