I’ve mentioned a time or two that I struggle with depression. It’s a lifelong thing, I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t depressed. Sometimes are worse than others, but mostly, it’s basically like this: if there was a scale from -10 to 10, with -10 being superduper depressed and 10 being superduper manic, most people are at a base line of 0. My emotional grid’s baseline is, like, -2. Sometimes I dip low, sometimes I swing high, but day to day, I’m always a little depressed. Depression is my normal. My medication works as a…smoother, it bumps me to a -1 and keeps the lows brief and shallow so now I rarely get past a -3. Still, my outlook is always a little blue.
You as a 0 may ask, what’s that like? Well, let’s see. Imagine your mind is the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek (I’m a nerd, but my Star Trek knowledge is limited, so this isn’t going to get super out there for you non-nerds). There’s the big screen in front showing what’s going on, you are the Captain, and your emotions are manning all of the different stations and giving constant input and advice on how you go about doing things. I assume that in your mind, you as Captain, well, you stay in the big chair in the middle and you get the information you need to make decisions and your crew supports you and does as they’re told and mostly things go according to plan. And in those times that things go haywire, you and your crew work together to get back on course.
My mind, well, there’s a lot more chaos. A lot of the data I get isn’t right so I can’t make the best decisions to steer my ship. I have to get out of my chair to try and fix things, and my Spock is pretty incompetent. My crew doesn’t always speak the same language and they definitely don’t get along. There’s a lot of arguing and sabotage and laziness and things just don’t work right. There’s usually a mutiny brewing. My ship takes a lot longer to get to its destination, if it ever makes it there. Captain Me spends a lot of time and energy on keeping the ship going and so anything external can’t be dealt with properly. But, I’ve been captain of this ship for a long time, so I’ve gotten good with duct tape repairs and corralling the crew to get me where I need to go.
Have you ever wondered if somewhere, there is another you, existing in a different universe, making different decisions? Sort of an “I wonder what would have happened if” universe? When I was younger, I played this game a lot. I would wonder if somewhere in time, there was an Erin whose mom didn’t die young, who was still around and would offer me advice and hugs and all the normal things that moms do. As I got older, I had really bad insomnia, and I would play this game well into the night, assuming I hadn’t had enough bourbon to knock me out. Continue reading
I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom. I have been working since I was eighteen, and the thought of stopping to stay home all day with a baby was terrifying to me. “I’d be so bored!” I would cry! “No one does that anymore!” I’d tell people. Stay-at-home mothering was right up there with moving back in with your parents at thirty in my life. The shame! The horror!
While I was pregnant, I kept my nighttime bar-tending job, working eleven hour shifts right up until I was nine months pregnant and people starting making serious comments about me giving birth while mixing a cocktail. When I was asked what would happen after the baby came, I was optimistic. “Oh, I’m going to take five weeks off, and then I’ll be back to keep working my shifts. No big deal.” And I did. I was the crankiest, most irritated bartender in Richmond, serving college kids their red bull and vodkas with the bitchiest stink face I had because they would get to sleep off their hangovers while the only thing I got to sleep off was an hour or two of not being vomited on. I schlepped on for about four months, until I had to finally admit to myself and my husband that I was harboring a pretty terrible case of postpartum depression that I was trying to mask by drinking a lot while at work and going to target almost every day I wasn’t working.
Once I got some help with my depression, I cut back to one night a week at the bar for mental health and settled into a fairly decent routine with my kiddo, who was starting to be less of a screaming worm with appendages and more like a smiling human who only screamed intermittently. Around this time, my husband started a new hobby which evolved into a new business. He was working seven days a week and when he wasn’t working, he was holding down the fort while I went to work. After a few months of him working all the time, we realized a couple of things. Monetarily, we were doing OK. We certainly weren’t showering in Perrier and eating fancy dinner every night, but we were holding our own. Secondly, the money I was bringing in from my one night of work a week was pretty much equal to what my husband was trying to do on the two and a half days that he wasn’t at his real job. It seemed pretty clear that my job was becoming a moot point.