Last year, I had my first Thanksgiving as a single person in ages. So I decided to take that opportunity to host Friendsgiving for some of the people I adore. It was a great time but ultimately, a little stressful to organize for that many adults. This year, we had planned on having another new experience: spending Thanksgiving with my family in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, my budget didn’t end up allowing us to take another road trip but it did allow us to have a modest meal together as a family of three.
The drowsy kids got all of Wednesday off of school, so we used that time to get to enjoy a proper day off together. Since separating from their dad, I have the kids all week, but they spend just about every weekend with my ex. This allows them to get quality time with both of their parents regularly, while also allowing me to work on weekends so we can avoid the massive childcare bill that comes with me working a nine-to-five gig. As their school days have gotten longer, we’ve found less and less time in the evenings to really DO a lot of family stuff. So random Wednesdays off from school are a cherished treat for our family. Alistair, Arbor and I went with our neighbor (and honorary brother to me & Uncle to the kids), Ant, and his daughter to the Science Museum of Virginia to see one of our favorite planetarium films, We Are Stars. Afterword, we all went to play in the exhibits for a while, then a drive thru lunch at Burger King. I’m not a regular mom. I’m a cool mom. We spent the afternoon watching TV and movies, hanging out and rolling the kids into a two-headed blanket burrito.
On Thursday, we had a simple meal that actually meant a lot to me. I made a baked ham with pineapple and brown sugar glaze, mashed potatoes from scratch, ham gravy and green peas. This time last year, Alistair was still diagnosed with food allergies to soy, green peas and pork and being considered high risk for peanut and tree nut allergies. This year, he has been cleared of all food allergies and has been enjoying trying everything from PBJs to bacon. Arbor was recently cleared for green peas but is still undergoing testing for nuts. She’s never had a pork allergy. So this seemingly simple meal really highlighted some things we are quite thankful for– the ability to enjoy more food experiences together.
Ant joined us for a plate around lunch time, then I took the kids to visit their dad’s side of the family for the remainder of their fall break. We saw many of the aunts, some cousins and they even pulled together a last minute Thanksgiving meal. Check out the delicious plate I got to take with me for after I was done driving Uber. I’ve gotta admit it really hit the spot to shove my face with sweet potato pie, mac n cheese and sweet potatoes when I got in. Lucky for me, I only decided to Lyft until about 10:00 PM before getting an invitation to play some cards, drink a few beers and enjoy the company of some of my favorite humans.
This Thanksgiving was easily the least stressful Thanksgiving I’ve had so far. It’s my favorite holiday but I always meet it with a little bit of grief and sadness. My parents live 1200 and 3000 miles away from me, respectively and my geographically closest relatives are my sisters who live three hours away. But this year, it felt simple. I was having dinner with my tiny humans and feeling exceedingly thankful for the incredible friends who have become closer than family to me.
Thank you for letting me rave about my low key holiday.
It’s been some time since we last talked and part of me feels like I owe you an explanation. It’s been a funky year for me. It might have been a funky year for you too. I really want to tell you about something that I’ve walked through this year that was a new experience for me.
It’s my first year as a single mom and my entire world was flipped on its head. I found myself exceedingly exhausted. Just that to my bones tiredness. I went to the doctor to get my thyroid checked, certain I was hypothyrodic. Not only did we check my TSH but she checked my cholesterol and vitamin D to make sure a few things were working right. The next week, I had results and she told me everything was within the range of normal. I felt like I was about to cry. Why was I so exhausted all the time? Was I just lazy? Did I need to get over myself and just truck through? That sounded like the most overwhelming task of all– keep faking it until I make it. I just couldn’t anymore.
“You have many of the symptoms of clinical depression. I’d like you to try an antidepressant.”
My heart sank. I’m not depressed. I’m not sad. I can’t be depressed if I’m not sad. I love my life. I don’t want to end it. I don’t want to hurt myself. My life isn’t perfect but I’m not depressed. I was skeptical, to say the least, and certainly not depressed. You see, I’ve been depressed before. I spent my teenage years living in a group home feeling the lowest I ever have in my life. I only wanted to die. Having depression I could live with, that simply wasn’t possible.
But at the end of the day, I really just wanted to feel better. So despite my reservations, I gave the prescription a try. I was tired of fighting with my alarm clock every morning. I was tired of insomnia that kept me up until 4:00 am. I was tired of feeling like I was running on empty. I was just tired of being tired. I missed feeling like a boss for waking up at 5:00 am to knock out client work. I missed feeling like super mom. I missed feeling like me.
The first two days of the new drugs made me feel really off. I hated it. I felt nauseated. My mouth was dry. I had no appetite. My brain felt a little foggy. By day three, the only side effect that remained was a tremor in my jaw that made it look like I was shivering and some irritating sexual side effects. Within a week, I felt less tired but still tired. I kept with the drug for a month before I had a follow up appointment. I confirmed I was starting to feel better but still wasn’t quite there. I told her about my side effects and she reassured me that those tend to go away after your body regulates. She increased my dosage and we agreed to stick with it for another month. And wouldn’t you know, the strangest thing happened.
The side effects started dissipating. My energy started increasing. I was in bed at a respectable time and I would wake up before my alarm. Mornings stopped being a battle of Carlene against the world. My kids were less annoying with their never-ending barrage of questions and requests. My workflow improved. I was able to handle the demands of the day without shutting down. I started to feel like me again. My depression came on so subtly that I didn’t notice just how much I didn’t feel like myself.
Last Monday, I woke up and felt a fresh wind of life in my lungs. It felt like I had been sleeping for the past six months and was finally awake. I looked around my house and saw all the chores that had been neglected for months (let’s not talk about the state of my laundry room, please) and rather than feeling overwhelmed at the work to do, I simply got to work.
Friends, I say all this to say that I haven’t been okay for a while. But I’m getting better now. And I know I can’t be the only one who has dealt with this. This experience with depression has been unlike any I’ve had before. But the treatment is still the same– get my brain chemistry leveled out, catch up on the things that fell behind, make time for my loved ones and accept the help being given to me. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s not okay to give up.
Antidepressants are saving my life. My day to day life. My wake up and get shit done life. My not hating adulthood life. My actually enjoying my family life. My connecting with people I care about life. And friends, I want you to know what’s going on in my life. So if you’re near by, please call me and lets get coffee. If you’re struggling, shoot me a message and lets commiserate. And if there’s anything I can do to help you, let me know. I’m here for you.