Thursday, January 17, 2013

When I was Very Young

I read an interesting article today, entitled  "Our favorite ladies share their twentysomething mistakes." At the ripe old age of fifty, I think that's an interesting question, and one I really couldn't have answered even ten years ago.

To put my thoughts in context, I was twenty years old in 1982, and I was in second year of university, studying English literature and education. I had just had my heart broken. I was living with a gaggle of women in varying states of emotional disarray.

By the time I turned thirty in 1992, I was married, had completed both of those degrees as well as a diploma in Advertising, and had two children (and a third on the way).

That was one busy decade!

In that decade, my father died, and I went into my first major depression since my time at university.

So what mistakes did I make?

I think my biggest mistake was that I did not go on antidepressant medication when I hit that major depression. Pills, I opined, were for lazy people who didn't want to do the emotional work of dealing with their messed-up childhoods. For people who just wanted an easy solution. Who wanted a bandaid.

It was a horrible, horrible year. My father died in March 1990, and my son was born two months later - the day after I completed my two degrees. Along with grieving my loss, I was coping with a fussy baby.

(I often use the euphemism "colicky," but really, he was just very, very needy. He slept well at night, and never screamed with belly pain, but he was not happy. He needed to be held, rocked, jiggled, or fed constantly. It was exhausting.)

At the same time, Steve was working on his Master's thesis, so was less available than I might have wished.

We were broke. (Mortgages were at 12% and we had just bought our first home.) We were stressed out.

I saw a therapist. As my depression took its toll on our marriage, we separated for a painful week, and then we started seeing a marriage therapist.

But I drew the line at taking pills.

Looking back, I can't help but think of how medication might have enabled me to benefit much more from the therapy. It would have saved me from hurting Stephen. It would have allowed me to enjoy my children and my time at home with them.

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