Tag Archive | depression

I Wasn’t Okay


It could be funny story, but it isn’t. I’ve only shared it with a few, and I’ll admit to putting a humorous spin on it a time or two. You can make something sound less awful if you sprinkle in a few laughs and some self-deprecating humor, but that’s like putting extra sweet icing on a dry cake. It goes down a little easier, but it’s still an awful cake.

So no icing this time.

This is a story about the day I realized I needed help. The day I acknowledged I wasn’t okay. I’d known for some time, but I was strong and capable and could do it all, except I couldn’t. I wasn’t. Some days I felt I was unraveling like a spool of loosely wound thread, and others, like a string being stretched to the breaking point. There were days I felt the unraveling and the tautness together, it left me in a jumbled tangle of knots and loose ends that were becoming harder and harder to free myself from.

I had a home I was happy in, four amazing children, a husband I adored, and falling apart was not an option. There was no reason to, I was happy. I had so much to be thankful for, but I was coming undone inside and no amount of positive anything was changing that. There were times I felt unworthy of my blessings. I felt I wasn’t enough. How could I feel that way in the midst of so much joy?


I’ve always been good under pressure, and while there was happiness and joy in my life, there was pressure. There was stress and uncertainty and fear and sadness. My husband was in the military and often away, my oldest son had recently been diagnosed with autism, his brother was being assessed for developmental disabilities. Physically, I was suffering from the effects of what I would soon find out was undiagnosed diabetes, and I was tired. More tired than I had time to realize.

I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember, but it was slowly taking control of my life. Everything filled me with dread. The day our home was broken into, the day a stranger came into my refuge and robbed me of so much more than things, was the day I succumbed to the anxiety I’d been fighting for so long. It was the catalyst for what was to come.

I became obsessive about our safety, about locking doors and windows, checking closets and under beds repeatedly. My obsessive monitoring of these things was as intrusive as that stranger that had walked unwelcomed into my home. I looked out the peephole on the front door a hundred times a day. One of those times, not long after the older kids had been dropped at school and I was home alone with my youngest, I saw a young woman making her way up the driveway. I watched her. She came to the door and I held my breath as she reached for the doorbell.

I should have just ignored it. I should have just waited silently until she walked away, but I was unnerved and annoyed. There was a no soliciting sign right above the doorbell and it bothered me so much more than it should have that she rang in spite of it.

I opened the door, she began her well rehearsed pitch for home water delivery service which I interrupted with a polite no thank you. She continued. I could feel my heart speeding up. I pointed to the no soliciting sign and again said, no thank you. She rolled her eyes and I closed the door, but I didn’t walk away from it. I watched her through the peephole. I watched her reach out and peel the sign off the wall and walk away. I didn’t see a young woman. I saw a monster. An intruder. I saw someone violating my home and my peace and my privacy and all the anxiety and anger and fear I’d been trying to contain broke free from its chains and that last bit of frayed thread within me snapped.

I remember feeling so angry, I remember trying to calm myself down. I remember feeling like I was boiling from the inside out. I don’t remember grabbing my keys and my son, I e0fc981baf19c44ebfc1a7bcec92f163 (1)don’t remember getting in the car. I do remember stopping the car in the middle of the street on the other side of the block when I saw her at someone else’s door.

I stopped and got out of the car, left it right there, running, with my almost two-year old son in the back seat and crossed the street to confront her. I can’t recall just what I said, I know it was angry and ugly. She denied the deed and I got angrier and uglier. Neighbors on both sides opened their doors to see what was happening. I know I promised to get her fired, I know I told her I wanted the sign back. I know I told her she had ten minutes to return it.

I don’t remember going back to the house or going in, but I do remember thinking I was going to lose what was left of my mind. I do remember the anger turning to fear. Fear of myself. I felt physically ill trying to piece together what I’d just done, realizing I had left my child in the middle of the street in a running vehicle. I was sitting on the kitchen floor in a puddle of tears when the doorbell rang.

She’d actually come back. She could have easily left the sign on the porch, but she rang the bell. I was embarrassed and mortified and unable to stop shaking or quell my tears, but I opened the door. She was shaky as well and her eyes were wet with tears too. She handed me the sign. She apologized. I did too, but my crazy was still showing and I tried to explain things to her. I suddenly felt very maternal towards this young woman. I told her it was foolish to do things like she’d done, that there were crazier people than me out there. I extended the trauma I’d likely caused her with an unexpected hug. This is the part of the story I actually do find sort of funny, in a totally twisted and sad way. That poor girl. I scared her to death and then I hugged her.

When all was said and done, the reality of it all hit me. I was not okay. I am now. I take medication to even out the chemical imbalance that can wreak havoc in my life. I talk to people. Sometimes I’m more okay than other times, but I recognize it now. I don’t ignore the warning signs and I take action to keep myself from falling back into that dark place. I have a greater understanding of depression and anxiety and OCD, and I know without a doubt I am worthy of my blessings.

It took time and hard work to get here though, and I didn’t do it alone. Reaching out and seeking help was difficult. Admitting I needed it was like admitting defeat in the beginning. I’m not real big on talking to people or asking for help, I still struggle with that aspect of it, but I do it because I never want to be that out of control woman who stood in the middle of the street screaming that day again.

94df6bce140bcbd1f219ed0a1b8a63d7There are moments, days, weeks even that I struggle. Times when I have to rely on faith and facts to keep me moving through whatever dark clouds loom above me. Sometimes I forget, or simply choose not to reach out when I’m facing that storm, but thankfully, I have some faithful storm chasers in my life that keep me from being swept away by it.

Depression is a misunderstood disorder. I certainly didn’t understand it. How could I be depressed when I was happy? I smiled, I laughed, I did things. I hadn’t taken to my bed or lost hope, and yet that fog followed me, sometimes I wore it like a shroud, sometimes it was simply a shadow that followed me.

Once I learned it had nothing to do with my strength, my capabilities, or my fortitude it was easier to fight. I had many weapons in my armory, faith, family, friends, but I still needed armor. Medication served as a shield, it didn’t fight the battle for me, I had to do that, but it did offer a buffer between me and the invisible enemy I faced.

It’s been sixteen years since I took up arms and began fighting back. There are days I grow weary of it, but even on those days, the sun still shines and I find my strength. I am the hero of my story.





The fog is rolling in, the battle rages on


The fog is rolling in.

I sense before I see,

the clouded mist

that comes again –

coming again for me.

Wispy tendrils

whorl round my feet,

readying for war.

Creeping, crawling,

reaching, searching,

finding me once more.

I’ve naught but gossamer veil

to hide myself beneath,

I’ve no stronger shield,

no bullets, no bow –

I’ve no weapon to unsheath.

But lo, perhaps I do –

I’ve words at my command.

With parchment as my coffer

and quill within my hand,

an army lays in wait,

for me to take my stand.

Whispered words

become my battle cry,

they cover me like armor,

they give me wings to fly.

As the battle rages,

the fog is failing, falling –

raining down in pages,

scattered in defeat.

I lift my veil,

and watch

as the

vanquished fog


Crystal R. Cook

Why did I ignore the flowers? Then came the cleansing rains –


Not so very long ago, I noticed the flowers in my yard were wilting and I walked right by. I felt a little wilted myself, and I just sighed a commiserating sigh and left them to their plight as I’d left my heart to my own.

The day after I did the same, and the next day, and the next one too. Each time I saw them, I just thought, I know, dear flowers, I know.

On that fourth day though, I knelt down as I hurried off to do the things I had to do, I only had a moment and I don’t know why I stopped, there was nothing I could do to quench their thirst right then, nor my own, but still – I stopped and stared.

I swear I saw them quiver in some tiny bit of anticipation at my presence, but I walked away. Again. I promised myself to care for them, I knew they needed me. By the time the day had passed, my energy was spent and the flowers and I, both weary and filled with desperate thirst, were blanketed in the dark of another night.

When morning came the sky stayed darkened and bits of the heavens began to fall, the world outside my window glistened with every raindrop that fell, and the earth and the flowers soaked each one in. I looked out my rain-spattered window and saw the flowers dancing as the water from the sky fell to caress each tiny, wilted leaf – they were dancing – and I cried.

My tears fell as the rains came down to cleanse and nourish the land. At first they were tears of sadness, filled with frustration, guilt, anger . . . but then, my heart began to still, though the tears still poured in rivulets from my tired eyes.

Why did I ignore the flowers?

As the afternoon sun spilled forth rays of warmth, the flowers stood a little taller. The dust I’d let settle upon them was washed away and I swear, they were standing a little taller. The cleansing rains renewed and refreshed and replenished them, and in some way, those same rains gave me permission to cry and cleanse something in me as well, perhaps they came to make me see and feel and remember – remember to care for myself before I wilt and forget to water my garden.

I think I may be standing a little taller . . . maybe tomorrow I will stand even taller still.


22 days, approx. 6000 pages, & shimmering stars

22 days ago I found myself in a rather anxious state. I was fraught with slivers of sadness and fretful with fits of frustration. I realized I was overwhelmed and so, so tired. Unable to disencumber myself from these loathsome sensitivities, I made a hasty retreat into the safety and security of my little bubble and tried to shield myself from however much of the world I could. It was my intent to settle into a soul soothing solace for a few days, but my melancholy managed itself into a moroseness I found difficult to soothe. Before long, I was floating through each day upon a virtual ocean of apathy.

Reading was my only comfort, so I read page after page, book after book (15 of them), sequestering myself from just about everything – the computer, the phone, the kids, the husband, the laundry . . . I drank coffee and devoured words until one afternoon I finally felt the sun on my skin, heard the birds singing, and sensed a flutter of emotion stir in my heart.

I’m not entirely certain what precipitated the gloomy shadow that tried to swallow me, nothing particularly unpleasant or dreadful occurred, there wasn’t some fantastical event that sent me spiraling downward into the depths of despair. I suppose it was simply life and the living of it. Sometimes we just need a break for a few days, or 22 as the case may be.

The first 18 days were spent doing little else aside from thinking, reading, and avoiding human contact. I interacted as little as possible with everyone. I avoided any and all responsibilities I could possibly avoid. I just wanted to be alone. With my books. I sat on the porch with them from morning till night and then sat with them some more in my room until sleep would come.

Somewhere in the middle of my madness, I received a blessing so lovely I saw stars, literally. I almost ignored the stack of mail the postman delivered, but I noticed the corner of an envelope peeking out between the bills I’d eventually have to deal with and it practically called out to me. I slipped it from the pile and was surprised to find it was hand addressed . . . to me.

When I saw the postmark I couldn’t help but smile. It said Royal Mail and it had traveled a long way to bring me a smile. I opened the envelope carefully, I knew there would be more than lovely words inside, and when I opened the card, the sun twinkled off of the glittering stars that awaited me.

11081130_10204934342771860_7648003811937018469_nIt was the first real smile I’d smiled in a while. Before I could read the letter they adorned, I picked up the other prize that envelope held for me, a hand drawn ampersand. That was when the first tear fell. It was beautiful. One of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received. I stared at it with a mix of awe and thankfulness. I have an affinity for ampersands and my faraway friend took the time to create something so personal for me, I was overcome by the thoughtfulness of it.

More tears fell as I read the words she took the time to sit and write to me. We’ve shared conversations online and in emails, but this was so much more . . . it was real and personal and I could hold it in my hands. There is something so magical about that. So intimate. So real.

The letter from my sweet blog-sister Lizzi was the catalyst that sparked my resolve to pull myself up and find it within myself to take back the control I’d relinquished. I don’t even know how to say thank you for that.

The shadow dissipated on the 19th day and I slowly began to integrate myself back into my family. They welcomed me with open arms, several loads of laundry and a lengthy grocery list. I was tempted to lose myself in another book, but, you can only hide from reality for so long and since they had to fend for themselves for what they seem to think was an eternity, I relented to resuming my duties as wife and mother, caretaker to all.

I did a lot of thinking these past few weeks, I thought of things I was afraid of, things I was thankful for, things that made me sad, and things that made me happy. I thought of the many challenges and hardships in my life and I thought about the many blessings I’ve been bestowed.

I thought quite a bit about my failures, real and perceived, but I also thought about my successes and decided maybe I should give myself credit for them. I’ve been focused on the parts of me that feel weak instead of magnifying the strengths I know, without a doubt, I possess.

I have a lot more thinking to do and many more books to read, but I think I can manage to do those things without shutting myself off from everyone around me . . . I’m keeping my bubble close by though, just in case.

~ My Therapeutic Companions ~


Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children -Ransom Riggs

Hollow Children – Ransom Riggs

A Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

The Essential Neruda, Selected Poems – Pablo Neruda

Room – Emma Donoghue

Farewell Dorothy Parker – Ellen Meister

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess)

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Son of a Witch – Gregory Maguire

A Lion Among Men – Gregory Maguire

Out of Oz – Gregory Maguire

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

Under the Dome – Stephen King

Dear Me . . .

Dear Me - The Qwiet Muse

Just to clarify ~ I’m not crazy. I don’t have split personalities, the one I have may be splintered just a little bit though. Truthfully, we all have many faces and facets that make up the entirety of who we are. Sometimes we disconnect from self, we may not even be aware we’ve neglected certain aspects of ourselves, but eventually it begins to manifest outwardly and when it does, people notice.

It may be some internal attempt at self-preservation, it may be our experiences in the moment are simply so overwhelming they overshadow parts of who we are. When his happens it can lead to depression, self-doubt, and a sense of emptiness in our lives. I’ve seen it happen to those around me, people dealing with illness, heavy work loads, and other life-changing events. I see it happen often with caregivers and parents. It’s happened to me.

Women seem particularly susceptible, especially mothers. We tend to forget we are more than just wives and mothers and the ten thousand other things we are expected to be. We are unique and complex individuals, there really is more to us than what the world sees, there is more to us than we can sometimes see as well.

We often push parts of ourselves to the deepest depths of our inner being, we become what we think everyone needs and expects us to be. That’s okay as long as we don’t forget to nourish the essence of who we are. Sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves we are important too.

When my kids were still little ones, I went through a period of loss. Loss of self. My life was a whirlwind of schools, doctors, therapists, and medication. I had four young children, two with developmental disabilities, a husband frequently away in service of his country, and a recent diabetes diagnosis. I lost myself in the mayhem.

In a rare and quiet moment the weight of it all bore down on me and I knew I had to do something or I wouldn’t have the strength or the will to continue. I hadn’t picked up a pen to write much more than grocery lists and schedules to keep for a long while, that night I decided to dust off my journal and try to make sense of it all.

What I ended up penning to the page seemed odd, and to be honest, I thought at the time, stupid. I closed my journal feeling no better than I had when I’d opened it. The next day though, I felt stronger. I took little breaks throughout the day to sit and read, to simply sit in thought. I felt a sense of peace. The rest of the week I felt lighter, I enjoyed my days a little more.

I’d forgotten about my journal entry until I decided to write something about a month later, I was surprised at what I found. I didn’t recall writing the words I was reading. I’d penned a letter to myself. It was the first of many . . .

Hello there my old friend. It’s been so long since we’ve had a moment to talk. I just thought I would check in with you and see if you’re okay. Are you? I only ask because you’ve been so distanced from me lately. Remember the hours we used to spend together in thought or in silent prayer? Have you forgotten how wonderful it was, sitting back in the sun, reading and resting?

I miss the quiet moments we used to spend together. I miss hearing your laughter. Do you laugh anymore? Tears seem to have replaced that twinkle in your eyes and that saddens me. I wish I could help. I am trying, do you even hear me? I know you must, you simply have to. If we could just reconnect I know it would ease your troubled heart.

I can feel your loneliness, it is mine as well. There’s no need to be lonely, I am still here. My presence seems to be crowded and nearly lost by all of the pressures and pains you’re feeling. I know the responsibilities you have are great, but what happened to the time you used to make for us . . . for you, the time used to rejuvenate your soul and refresh your mind and spirit?

You cannot keep going without checking in with me every now and then you know. You need me and I need you. What would we be without one another? I shudder at the thought of it. I know right now you feel you do not have time for me, but I think if you tried you would find you really do.

I’m not asking for days or even hours, just a few stolen moments every once in a while. We could read a chapter or two in an old book or step outside and let the cool winters breeze give us goosebump kisses. We could sip a cup of tea and write poetry and breathe.

Please think it over, I know you will feel better once we have been in each other’s company for a spell. I will be here for you when you’re ready, just as I always am. I do hope you will squeeze me in soon. I’m afraid if you do not I will lose you forever. What would become of me? What would become of you?

I whispered a prayer for us. I look forward to spending some time with you soon. Sooner than later I hope.

I miss you and I love you . . .

Sincerely yours.

A little part of you.

Crystal R. Cook