Well, here we are. The beginning of a new year and hopefully a fresh start. I have to say, I’m not sad to see 2013 leave. While nothing bad happened last year, it has been one long struggle. It’s hard to acknowledge the things I’ve accomplished because they haven’t come easily. From house projects, parenting, managing the household, nursing myself and my family back from a million colds, to trying to maintain inner peace, this year has left me thoroughly drained.
I really am looking forward to 2014. To have a new outlook and to set some realistic tangible goals. But before I set myself up for failure, I have to reflect back and ask why I struggled so much last year. What was this never ending obstacle I felt I was always trying to overcome?
It wasn’t until talking with a friend at a Holiday get together did I acknowledge that maybe I really am depressed. Ugh, depressed. It’s such a heavy word, yet not heavy enough to truly describe the enormity and intensity of the feeling. It’s easier to think that I’m just tired or worn out. That I’m just a little down. But when she pointed out I’ve been this way for two years, it seemed hard to fluff off. Was she right? Yes, I think she may be right. Maybe I am a little more than just tired and worn out. Maybe I am depressed.
It’s a hard thing to acknowledge, because on the surface I have no reason to be depressed. To even consider the feeling comes with guilt. I have a happy healthy family. My wife works to provide for us and I’m able to stay home with my children who are, despite being a couple of handfuls, great kids. I have a great network of family and friends that support us and I’m able to sneak out for a drink or some ice cream with friends on a semi-regular basis. And my kids like The Beatles. How could I be depressed? It sounds so selfish. What’s wrong with me?
I know that the everyday grind and the constant battles trying to accomplish the littlest of things can be taxing, but overall I really do enjoy staying home. I do enjoy managing the household and nurturing my family and children. And when I’m in the right frame of mind, I’m pretty good at it too. So why do I feel like there is a hole in my heart and it’s always cloudy outside? How is that possible?
You know that voice inside your head though? That irrational negative voice. The one that makes you feel worthless. The one that tells you “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t.” Or that you’re behind in life and lacking in everything that you do. I’m pretty sure we all have a voice like that at times. Well, I do. And he’s been talking a lot lately. And no matter how much I know he’s completely wrong and full of it, I’ve been listening.
I think things really started to unravel as the holidays approached. Sometimes we tend to measure our success by monetary wealth. It is a tangible measurable thing and easy to notice. And with a two month long holiday that pushes consumerism and you are a guy that doesn’t bring home a paycheck, sometimes that can make you feel pretty inadequate.
Also, my family got sick just before Thanksgiving and really didn’t get any better until very recently. So all the things I would normally do to help build family memories and traditions, I didn’t do. I had big ideas for unique heartfelt gifts for my family, but those ideas just died inside my head. I was a complete Grinch. We didn’t even put up a tree until my mom brought over a small two foot tree on Christmas Eve to help us get in the mood. And the more photos I saw on Instagram and Facebook of families baking cookies and sitting by the fire doing all these Christmasy family things, it just made it worse. I wanted to flip over their dessert table and knock the tree down. The only thing I was excited for Christmas, was for it to be over.
I wasn’t dreading our family get together, I was just ready for the hype of the season to be over. I was ready for the constant reminder of how I felt out of control and inadequate to be finished. And just when I thought I could coast just a few more days, I found myself out shopping the day before Christmas Eve. I had waited until the last minute and was not thrilled to be out. I was feeling guilty that I wasn’t my typical jovial self. That I made little effort to give Ellie and Chloe a good Christmas experience. I felt like I let them down and going to the store just soured my mood even more.
While I raged inside my mind, I cranked Metallica on my way to Barnes N Noble. But after roaming the store and actually thinking about other people for a change, I actually enjoyed the experience. And in an effort to shift my mood and enjoy the season, I turned off Metallica and turned the on the radio for the ride home. I came across a talk show that caught my attention. I’m not sure which station it was but a woman was chatting and she shared this quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. “Many people die with their music still inside them.”
Wow, there was something about that quote that really hit me. This clicked for me. I felt that I was on this path.
For awhile, I thought all I needed was a break. Just a breather to recoup, refocus, and reload. But I do get breaks. I do go out with friends here and there. And I love that time out and away from the house. But it just feels like treating the symptoms instead of treating the illness. Instead of coming back cured and refreshed, I’m just covered in band-aids. I realize there is something fundamentally off. And with acknowledging I’ve been this way for a while, it’s kind of frightening. I don’t want to become complacent and accept this as my normal and die with my music inside.
I know change doesn’t come easy. I know there is no quick fix. True change can only come from within. And that is my focus for this coming year. A resolution, a goal, a quest. Whatever I call it, I don’t like feeling this way and I’m ready to acknowledge it and make a change, for me and my family.
I need to dig deep to free the music inside. I may not know what my song is right now, but I want to feel content as I write it.