As I sit here and start to type this up, There are five tabs open in my browser. Facebook and Twitter which pretty much stay open all day while the kids are at school. Not that I’m really utilizing them well, but more, hoping to see notifications and mentions in a sad waiting game of self-worth. My personal blog’s dashboard is open sitting on a half-finished post that may or may not ever see the publish button pushed for it. Of course, my dashboard for Dads Round Table is open. How else would I be writing this? The fifth tab? It’s just there. Waiting for me to point it in some mystical direction on the internet and bring me instant information or entertainment within fractions of a second of asking it to.
But that tab will stay blank. My half-written post will stay half written. Facebook and Twitter will silently scroll a news feed by me that I will completely miss………..
My apologies. I lost my thought and wandered off in my mind a bit there. It’s 1pm and so far I have accomplished nothing productive today. Aside from polishing off the few dishes I created during my lunch, I have been on the couch, nearly motionless as I stare at an empty tab in the browser. No motivation. No drive. No ambition. I’m just… here. And nothing more. In about three hours, the kids will get off the bus ready for an afternoon of snacks, playing, reading, dinner, homework, and so on. Typical after school stuff. And I? I will be faking my way through it. Pretending to be interested, pretending to laugh at elementary school jokes, and counting down the hours until the wife gets home from work. Because today, I’m finding it hard to give a shit about anything.
Depression has a weird stigma to it. If I were to tell someone I didn’t know that I am depressed, they would assume I am sad, or upset, or possibly suicidal. But I’m really not any of those things. Not at this time. I’m not sad. Just blank. I’m not upset, just empty. I’m not suicidal, just void of any zest. I’ve left this post up and wandered off to my guitar several times. I stare at it, contemplate picking it up and jamming a bit. Then it’s back to sitting down, and trying to focus on finishing this without it becoming a ramble.
This past weekend was great. Games of backyard baseball with my son, preparing a flower bed with both kids, Easter lunch with family…. No, that was the weekend before last. I don’t really remember this past weekend. I do remember missing a soccer game because of my daughters tantrums. We didn’t go to the movies for some reason. I don’t really remember why. I did play backyard baseball so at least I had that part right. The rest? Gone from my mind right now. The last few days I have been tired, weak, unwilling and unmotivated. I have a lot of days like this. And it must suck for my kids.
They need me to be here. Not just physically here. But present, aware, conscious of all that is happening. They need me to hear these stories of what so and so said or did in class, or how so and so farted in the lunch room, or about Little Girl’s new crush of the week. But days like this? It annoys me. I don’t want to hear it. Even laughter gets on my nerves. I mean, who the fuck gets angered by the sounds of children laughing?
Parenting with depression is like navigating an invisible minefield. Being careful to try to avoid those little hidden triggers that might set off an explosion. Being vigilant of those quick to turn emotions and being able to handle them properly. When you live with depression, it’s not as easy as counting to 10, or stepping into the bathroom and screaming into a towel. Those things are bullshit and of no use. It’s a fight and a struggle to keep up until you have a chance to decompress, often once you have a little help.
It was different dealing with depression before when I was working. I took my feelings out by cleaning at work, working long hours, and at times, self-medicating. The third, maybe not such a good idea. But in the past, I’ve handled it better. In the first few months of being an at-home dad, I didn’t have these feelings. I wasn’t easily frustrated or angered. I didn’t have these unmotivated days and forced smiles. I’m sure the events of the last two years play a major role in it, but I don’t think that’s all it. And still now, I can’t quite pinpoint the source of this disturbance in my force.
The landmine lies hidden, waiting for me to step on the trigger. My footsteps are deliberate and uneasy. My mind flies in different directions like a fruit fly that’s just been swatted at. Someday all will be calm on the leading front. Someday, I will feel “normal” again, at ease again, at peace again. Someday, I won’t have any afternoons with my kids that are faked. If only it could be sooner. Before they are old enough to know that something is not right.