Did you know and love that song by the Judds in the late 1980’s? I was a Judd-loving girl back in the 80’s and still am. My Dad bought me a 12-string Ovation Balladeer guitar when I was about 12 years old. He’d later hook me up with some pickups inside that guitar and plug me into my very own small Peavey amp with a Sure microphone and stand. I wanted to BE Wynonna Judd. I’d channel my inner Wynonna and sing the hell of “Mama, He’s Crazy”, “Have a Heart” and “Maybe Your Baby’s Got the Blues”. I’d sing with all the passion a then-teenager could, with very little understanding about the lyrics of a song lamenting about the blues of a wife.
♪If you hear her cry at night, better turn on your light- maybe your baby’s got the blues..When she says there’s nothing wrong, and she just wants to be alone, you can bet your baby’s got the blues♪♪
One day, not long after this 1987 hit, I became a wife. Then I became a mother. Then divorced 4 years later. Single motherhood was not a walk in the park, but it was well worth the struggle. Some years later, Prince Charming rode in on his white horse (ok, really, he rode in on his teal Mustang! LOL) and the rest, as you say, is happily ever after.
What’s this got to do with the Judds song, Dawn? Right?
I’ve sung that song a thousand times in my life. At the top of my lungs in my shower, and in my mind over the last several weeks. Because I have had a “bout with the blues.” It’s actually been a long episode. And of all the things I’ve shared with you on this blog, this is probably the most personal, and I hope it’s the most helpful to anyone who might share this situation with me.
I’ve written about depression before. I have struggled with depression since my first child was born in 1991. Back then, they called it post-partum depression- or the “baby blues” I felt tired, not myself, but years went on and I figured it was just how first time mothers are supposed to feel- overwhelmed with duties of working and being a Mom and a Wife that I had never had to perform all at the same time. I gained about 80 pounds with the baby due to complete bed rest from the fifth month on. I don’t recall ever having taken medicine for it- I just forged ahead.
The late 1990’s would sing a very somber song for my family and me. I lost my Dad to cancer in 1998. He’d been sick for a short time (about 9 months) before he passed. I realize this is a very common occurrence for many of us. You can probably tell me a similar story about your Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Uncle, or Aunt…someone you loved completely is now gone, courtesy of Cancer. And like you, it is not an understatement when I say that the day he died, a part of me died, too. And while I was mourning the loss of the person who loved me the absolute most on this planet, I had a growing life inside of me…I found I was carrying my second baby just a couple of weeks before my Daddy passed. It’s crazy how God knows what we need sometimes…. He knew I needed that baby to get myself through the agony of losing my Dad. Without her, I don’t know where I’d be now, or if there’d be a “now” for me. That was an awful time for me. And to experience such sorrow and elation all at the same time was a confusing time for me.
After her birth, the baby blues returned again with a vengeance. It’s like the blues had to make up for lost time or something! My baby daughter was never in danger…but those overwhelming feelings again took over. The lack of sleep, lack of interest in life in general and the demands of an infant coupled with the demands of my then 8 year old were all so catastrophic to me then. My weight was still an issue. And is to this day. The simplest of tasks became increasingly difficult and the fatigue I felt was increasingly nagging me. My poor husband did not know what to do with me. But ever the patient man he was and still is, we managed to get through. Jason is by far, the most patient man I know. They say opposites attract. I am the polar opposite…
I finally sought help while at a check-up with my doctor, who prescribed anti-depressants. I’d find solace in some anti-depressants the next few months, while others would make me feel even crazier and the side effects would make me want to stay off of them forever.
Some of you who are reading knew me during this time. Some of you had no clue I was fighting depression this much….”because I am a happy person.”
And I pretty much am! Most people who suffer from depression ARE happy people. HAPPY does not mean you aren’t suffering from depression. They aren’t the same thing.
I have a wonderful family. Loving husband, wonderful daughters. Beautiful, caring sister and mother who live close by. Friends that love me. A love for Jesus and a relationship with Him that is strengthening each day…by all measures, I am a blessed woman! I AM HAPPY!
But there’s a darkness in depression. Do you have any idea what it feels like? The best ways to describe it might be: Hopelessness. Homesickness, but you ARE home. A nap from which you never wake. Confusion. Emotions in a Web. Fog. Indecisiveness. Impulsiveness. Sadness. And left untreated, it can swallow you whole.
Characteristics that I have seen, and that you may see in others: withdrawing from activities or functions that were once favorites. Avoiding social functions or people. Low self-esteem. The need to self-harm. LOTS OF SLEEPING. Lots of crying. For me, the crying and the sleeping are the key tell-tale signs. And for me, it was the avoiding of people I love. I am a social butterfly, so when I caught myself avoiding social engagements and people, I knew something was wrong. And those things happened to me last month during the holidays. Some REALLY scary thoughts entered my head. Stuff I never thought would enter my thought process were penetrating my thoughts on an hourly basis and it scared the hell out of me. I felt like I couldn’t share with friends. It would scare the hell out of anyone. And with all the craziness that the holiday season brings, I didn’t want to dampen the mood for my family, either. So I reached out to a therapist in my area and have been to see her twice. I’ve been to see my internal medicine doctor as well, who adjusted my meds for me. I had been taking a super light dose of anti-depressant and we bumped it up a notch. That – plus talking to the therapist, has made me feel SO much better! Why didn’t I want to share this with my family? Well….
Not everyone who loves me believes in depression and that medication is the answer. Not everyone believes depression is a chemical thing- some believe it’s “all in my head.” And I should just do my best to get over it. That’s their prerogative. But I think of it this way- My husband takes medicine for a heart condition. If he didn’t, his condition would worsen, and he’d likely have a heart attack and possibly die. My daughter is insulin dependent. She must have it to live. Without it, she’d die. The organs they need medicine for are their hearts and pancreas. The meds I need are for my brain. If I don’t I have the proper meds, I FEEL like I could die.
HOW IS THAT ANY DIFFERENT?
All the years I struggled with meds because I’d take some that worked, be well for a while and then go off of them because I let the opinions of others sway my behavior. If THEY didn’t believe I needed meds, I believed it, too. All that off-on medicine roller coaster riding made it even worse. NONE OF THAT IS HAPPENING NOW. A happy wife is a happy life, folks. And a happy wife cares for her family in the right way.
Some of ya’ll are reading this saying to yourselves, “Dawn Marie, you maybe oughta-not-share-so-much-out-here-on-the-interwebs-and-all.” And you know the voice I am using as I typed, that, too…. Try saying it again in “that voice”….LOL.
I am sharing this all with you for a couple of reasons. If you have a wife, a daughter, a sister…and she is exhibiting any of the things I’ve talked about here, pay close attention to her! The Dads, sons, uncles, brothers. EVERYONE. Be a good listener to them. Please don’t judge them. Last time I checked, none of us are Jesus, so don’t judge! Depression is hard to cope with, ya’ll! If you’re not a believer in depression or meds for it, please don’t make them feel like its bad for them to seek treatment. Talk to them. If they feel they need more resources, they can reach out to a Pastor, a Therapist, a friend…SOMEBODY. Anything except keeping all the feelings bottled up. That’s not healthy. There’s too many people out here walking around this world undiagnosed, without proper meds, who are ashamed to get help, or who aren’t familiar with the resources they have. Be a friend. HELP a loved one.
Listen- do you “hear her cry at night?” and if you do…”better turn on your light.”
Go visit this link if you have time…now imagine what a cutie I was in the 80’s with my hair all teased up like Wynonna and doing my thang with my guitar and Peavey amp. I was a force, yall, with my neon banana clipped-hair do and my jelly-bracelets. Just call me Wy-Wanna-Be!
Thanks for reading. God Bless.