I have a secret that I have been hiding for many years: I am a recovering hot mess. (You notice I wrote “recovering” and not “recovered” right?) I have been struggling with depression for over 20 years and have been hiding it the entire time. Only a few people know about my depression because either my husband, my parents or I have told them, a few others “know” because they have glimpsed the craziness I have tried so hard to hide, and I am sure many suspect. But for the most part, I have been putting on a good face for the outside world and crumbling to pieces in my private life. A few years ago it all came crashing down and I had a breakdown. With the help of my husband, parents and psychiatrist, I decided to leave working full-time in education and, unbeknownst to me, began a new life journey.
Since leaving my job, I have been on a journey. This journey started on the couch. Yes, that’s right, the couch. For about 2 years, my sofa and television were my best friends. After I got the boys up and ready for school and the bus left, I came home, turned on the tv, cuddled up and slept on-and-off for most of the day. Once the boys and Hubby came home, I got up and sometimes cooked, cleaned, and washed clothes.
I like to think that I was not a truly horrible mother and wife during this time; whatever energy and happiness I could find, I saved for my family (especially my kids). When they are older, my kids will vaguely remember this time, but I hope that they can remember me volunteering weekly at their school (when I could), the day trips over the summers, and the art projects we did together. Any good day I had, I put into my family; but, most of the time that was all I could muster.
After those 2 initial years, I thought that if I tried to make and keep some sort of schedule I might be able to get off of the couch (medication helped as well). So I got myself a planner, a cheesy, floppy one from Wal-Mart, but it was a start. I started planning when to clean, what we would have for dinner, when I would volunteer at school, and when to make my weekly visit to my grandmother. Some days I stuck to the schedule, some days I did not; but again, it was a start.
Then, 2 years ago we brought home the sweetest, cutest, cuddliest 8-week-old yellow Lab. This was the turning point. I didn’t have a choice – I could not spend the day on the couch anymore. He needed to learn to potty, to be walked, and be watched ALL OF THE TIME. Gunner became my saving grace. He jumped on my lap and gave me kisses whenever I felt down but he also needed me more than I needed the couch. So, I got up.
Now, I volunteer 2 days a week, visit my grandmother weekly, clean and do laundry on a regular basis, and cook dinner 5-6 nights a week. Yes, I still have bad days and the couch calls my name. But, I can usually resist its sweet, sweet plea. And as part of this journey, I have done a lot of thinking about my life and in particular the meaning of it. When I was teaching and working as a counselor, I had meaning in my life because I was helping people. Yes, my family gives my life meaning but I was searching for something else, something more.
So as my journey continued, I started crafting again about a year ago. Before my breakdown I scrapbooked, stamped, did cross stitch, and DIY’ed all of the time. Now I was back at it. I started embroidering dish towels, updating some of the front door wreaths, and most recently I sewing. This gave me something to do and pretty things always tend to make me happy. For me, creating is a good form of therapy. But I was still missing something. After trying (and failing at) a few things, I decided that I would start a blog. I have always loved creating things and I often strive to “make things pretty”. I am not an expert in any craft, hobby, or DIY, but I do have some good ideas and most of my projects turn out pretty good. So I thought I could not only share my struggle with depression but also my love of creating. So here I am: still a hot mess (recovering, not recovered), still struggling with depression and anxiety, but now I am actually doing something to live a happy life with depression. And I believe that it is possible.
My life is far from perfect – we don’t live in a big house, drive fancy cars, or have money to burn. We live in a modest house and live on a budget. If you follow this blog, you will not see the perfect side of life – you will see REAL LIFE. I have hidden for way too long and I don’t plan on doing that anymore. No sugar-coating here. I’ll tell it like it is. And, maybe, just maybe, I can help someone along the way. Welcome to my journey.