When Sad Days Become Sad Weeks

Young Woman Thinking --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

I remember trying to explain to someone once how lonely and sad I was feeling at home while everyone was away at school or work.  Their response was,”You sound like a bored housewife.”

After that, I rarely divulged that kind of personal information. Instead I just pushed through each month on those “sad and lonely days” until they subsided. After all, they didn’t last for more than a few days. Surely I could muscle-up enough energy to at least shower and get dressed before my family got home in the afternoon.

I don’t remember experiencing postpartum depression after either of my children. There was a short amount of time I do remember struggling with teen hormones and the grieving of a failed marriage, but for the most part, I have been able to face life with joy and optimism.

Depression only happens to other people, unhappy people, people who have stressful lives.

Or at least that is what I thought until I got remarried and moved to Michigan.

It didn’t happen right away, but after a few years of constant cold and overcast days, my mood began shifting dramatically. First, it was just in the winter months, so I thought it was SAD, but then it became more cyclical during the whole year. I chalked it up to PMS since it coincided with my period. I increased my calcium intake, B and D vitamins, made sure I ate healthy and exercised. I was determined to have less sad days. But that only helped for a little while. Finally, a few years ago, I was more honest with my doctor about how I was feeling and we decided to try Yasmin for birth control, which is also prescribed for mild PMDD.

The mood swings were less harsh each month, although still cyclical. Maybe it was a mind-game. I could predict when the bad days would come and just bare down, wait it out. I could numbly go through the motions. And even though I felt detached from my life for a few days, I was still productive. I was still able to be present. I could still greet my family with a smile, a clean house, and a hot meal at the end of the day.

But lately those sad days have turned in to sad weeks. Earlier this month I found myself crying in the shower for the third day in a row, until the water ran cold and my fingers and toes were shriveled and numb. My voice reverberated off the walls. I was depressed. I was drowning in hormone fluctuations. My house was frozen in dust and clutter while my family had been eating frozen dinners. The things that brought me joy only caused stress. I didn’t write. I didn’t practice my oboe. I didn’t seek out any of my friends or extended family. Luna and I laid in bed for days watching TV.

When I finally came out of my funk and resurfaced, I called my mom. She had left several messages during those ten days. I was chipper and optimistic when I told her why I didn’t call her back right away.

“But it’s fine now, Mom, ” I assured her, “The two weeks are just about done and I can get on with my life now.”

Mom took a heavy breath.

“Two weeks a month is half of your life.”

“What?” I asked.

“Half of your life, ” she said, “you miss out on half of your life. How is that okay?”

It’s not okay, but I had never thought about it that way. I only focused on the two weeks that I felt great, the two weeks that I had energy and enjoyed being with friends and family. I looked forward to the two weeks I wasn’t in a total brain fog, when writing and playing my oboe felt effortless and fulfilling. That seemed like enough. I had forgotten what it felt like to enjoy my whole life.

There is little to no stress in my life. My marriage is good, my kids are healthy and doing well in school, relationships with our extended family are amazing and finances are solid. There are no outside influences causing me to fall in to this darkness. This is not my fault nor is it in my control. The time has come to swallow my pride and finally succumb to my doctor’s yearly recommendation of taking a more aggressive approach.

No one wants to see themselves as depressed or dependent on drugs for happiness, but I doubt anyone wants to miss out on half of their life either.

I sure don’t.

26 thoughts on “When Sad Days Become Sad Weeks

  1. Depression is never your fault. There is a difference in ‘being depressed” and in clinical depression. Clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain…not your fault…and anti-depressants can help. Everything you talked about are symptoms of clinical depression…crying for no reason, sadness, inability to function or feel like doing what needs to be done, feeling out of control etc. etc. etc. There is a possibility you might need to do some therapy also, we all have hidden baggage, but don’t be afraid to try the anti-depressants.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve been going through. I am also so thankful to your mother for putting it in such terms. It doesn’t seem like that much time when it’s finally over (or maybe it does, but the relief that it’s over makes it seem less?), but 2 weeks a month IS half your life. Thanks for sharing this – I’ll bet so many women feel the same way, and your words just gave them courage to find a way to feel better also. Hugs.

  3. Thank you Amitripalyne for helping me regain my happiness. And dont forget clean laundry, clean house, sewing agian, the joy of playing with my kids and reading books (and it not be a chore)..
    These are the thing that got lost that I dont ever want to go back to.

    I think my meltdown in the closet laying on the floor sobbing my brains out, led me to believe my issue was more than I can handle on my own anymore.

    I think we are just all normal, and want the same things..Happiness, love, and good food.


  4. Thank you for having the courage to write this post. So many of us have been there! I recently (and reluctantly) began taking medication for depression. And as much as I want to blog about my experience for others, I’m ashamed to admit it to those I actually know. I wasn’t as much sad as just an emotional ball of a hot mess. I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t “happy”. It wasn’t until a friend said, we take vitamins because our body needs them. My body needed that extra “vitamin” so that I could enjoy life. I hope that you find what your body needs…whatever it may be.

    1. I don’t know why we are programmed to keep everything “secret” when it is so obvious from these comments that we all share similar burdens. I am so glad that you are able to enjoy life again. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. good luck, thank you for sharing this. one of the best books i read on depression which i found helpful was ‘the noonday demon’. which ever path you take i hope you find the light soon, the darkness is so dibilitating, thinking of you xxx

  6. I am proud of you for writing this and sharing it. I recently stopped my Zoloft thinking I was much better and within days I was miserable, short tempered and sad….yes sad. so I gave it three weeks…and started to take it again ..and I am so much better. Even on this very low dose I am better.

    Thinking of you sweetie…I’m here if u need me xo

  7. I am where you are except I am spinning all the plates of single motherhood, studenthood (in my senior year), parenting a teenager with autism. I am not at home all day, but I still feel lonely. I wish I could just push through, but I can’t so I have called the Dr. today to start the prescription. I am so grateful that there is a solution that will allow the sun to peek through the clouds again. Thanks for sharing…..it makes me not feel so alone.

    1. Oh Beth – I wish I had some words worthy enough to help. You are burning the candle at both ends, for sure. I think the best thing we can do for ourselves is surround ourselves with people who understand and support us. It’s important to be heard and it’s important to accept help where we find it. Big hugs to you. You amaze me, truly. I will look for an update on how you are feeling soon!

  8. Exactly, sometimes we have to take stock and realise just how much we’re missing out on. I’m sorry you’ve been feeling so blue, I’ve missed your posts too. It’s so important to be open, speak up, reach out, more people need to. Get the help you need and deserve, whatever that may be – medication or not, and get back to enjoying life. Hugs! 🙂

  9. You’ve been on my mind so much in the past few weeks and I keep meaning to text or email you. But… I haven’t and I am sorry! I hope you are feeling better and you doc can help. Remember, this doesn’t mean you will have to be medicated forever. I was on an antidepressant for about 2 years after mom died. One day I woke up and realized i would be ok without it.

    1. So funny! You have been on my mind often too. I think about that sweet little boy that has blessed your life. I feel like admitting that I am struggling has been sort of a “wake up” too. Thanks.

  10. I hope things improve – not just for two weeks out of the month, but for the full month. I’ve definitely had those days – the curl up in bed and mope days – but never quite so long and full of unhappy as what you’re describing. Definitely don’t let it take over your life – we’d all miss you!

  11. My dear, you are going to be getting lots of feedback from this post telling you the same thing: “I have been where you are. I understand, You are not alone.” Because the truth is, you are NOT ALONE – not even unusual. I was diagnosed as Bi-Polar II several years ago, and have been on medication (a combination of 3) for a long time. Being on medication has been a true life saver, and i encourage you to go for it, but with one caveat: Find the right physician for you. It might not be easy. Keep tabs on how a medication is working, or not working, and make sure your doctor understands you and vice-versa. It is imperative that you hae a good working, communiative relationship with your doctor. If you have to “shop around,” then so be it. Believe me, in the long run, you will not regret having spent the time looking for just the right fit!

    If it makes you feel any better, many of the most creative people on the planet suffer from depression. . . (I know – knowing that didn’t really help me, either, but it’s an interesting fact, don’t you think? 😉 )

    I am praying for you, and as always,m\ I wish you enough. . .

    1. Thank you Paula – I agree with you. So far, I love my doctor. She is a women’s health specialist and was the only doctor that was willing to work with me on my hypo-thyroid problems. I have been relieved by all of the warm words of encouragement. Thanks for making me laugh about being a suffering creative person!

  12. Oh, Emily, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I’ve struggled with depression off and on for 30 years, and I know how frustrating and discouraging that struggle can be. You are brave and strong and wonderful, and I’m so glad your mother reminded you that your whole life is worth living.

    If you want, e-mail me any time, for any crazy or stupid reason at all — it’s not an easy path to walk, and sometimes it feels good to compare notes or just plain kvetch about it with someone who travels through similar terrain.

  13. *hugs* I wish I couldn’t relate, but I think a great many of us can. It’s very brave of you to share this. I don’t know how to end this comment, everything I think to type sounds trite or meaningless to my inner ear. I do hope you find a way to take back your life. I’ll be cheering for you.

  14. I’m so affected by your openness about what you’re experiencing. If only we could all be so honest. And I love how your mom helped put things in perspective for you. Missing out on half your life is way too much. Depression, no matter what the cause, is a heavy burden. I hope that you’ll find a way to lighten it. Thanks for sharing this experience.

    1. Thank you Shary – like many things in life, I think we can’t really make the necessary changes needed without being accountable. We have to say them out loud – good or bad. When I decided to run my first 5k, I had to tell people or else I knew I would never complete the training needed to reach my goal. Now, my goal is to seek mental stability. Now, I’m more accountable. Thank you for commenting.

  15. I am so happy you took the initiative to do something about this. You are too precious a person to have to suffer like that. I want my little girl back ALL the time, not just half the time!

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