Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Long, Cold Winter in my Heart

I've been struggling with depression this winter. It's a combination of a bunch of things... and probably just me being me, too. It's been a rough winter: rough on my heart, rough in my mothering, rough in my marriage, rough among the kids. Raw, cold, harsh winds have been blowing... outside and in.

Spring is coming. Even though the temperatures are still hovering around freezing, we've had a lot more sunshine lately. It's lighter in the morning, when I head out to mass. I can feel the weight on my shoulders lifting, ever so slightly.

It's hard to talk about depression. Admitting that I struggle with depression from time to time is admitting that I am not the organized, "together" woman I try so hard to project to the world. It's a bit scary. People seem to like that "together" woman; I know I do. Will they like me, if they know who I really am? Will they love me? Will I love me?

I am blessed with a strong, supportive husband... my sounding board, my cheering section. He is my rock when I am crumbling.

I am blessed by the strength of my faith. Prayer has gotten me through every single day this winter. Spiritual Direction and Confession have kept me moving forward, pushing onward, digging deeper. My faith is my buoy... a sign of stability amdist the waves of my emotions.

And yet, even with my rock and my buoy, I have spent much of this winter near-drowning, barely able to keep my head above the water.

But you wouldn't know it... if you were outside my very tight inner circle. I've continued to run projects, manage the household, do the carpools, and be present at scout and parish events... the "together woman," big smile on her face, easy-going, ready to jump in and help out. I've blogged, run on the treadmill, hosted birthday parties and playdates, attended meetings, and welcomed dinner guests. I've done all this, never confiding in anyone what was really going on inside my heart.


"What's that about?" Father asked me last night.

I wonder. On one very basic level, there is my privacy, my need to set and keep boundaries. The greater parish community, the parents in scouts, the other moms at the homeschool playgroup don't need to know my personal business. It's ok for me to keep some things private.

But, there's more. It feels a bit shameful to admit my depression. I live an incredibly rich and blessed life. We are financially comfortable; in this economy, we live on one income. I get to stay home with my kids. I get to homeschool them. We have an abundance of healthy, delicious food. We have a spacious home, filled to overflowing with wonderful things: books, toys, clothes, lots of wants and all of our needs. With all of this... with a life as filled with blessings and gifts and love and security, what reason do I have to feel depressed? Do I not appreciate all that I have? Do I not realize that everything is a gift?

Of course I do. The cornerstone of my prayer life is gratitude.

But, it doesn't change the pressing weight of sadness on my heart. I wish it did. I pray that it did. So, beating myself up for feeling down is futile. But it does help me understand why I keep this so private. I certainly don't need anyone else beating me up; I can handle that job just fine on my own.

Spring is coming; all the signs are there. My heart, like the ground, is softening. Tiny shoots of hope are poking through the mud; I am starting to reach out for support. I will crack through the crunchy, outer shell of this cocoon... and someday, hopefully soon, will emerge once more... a new creation.


  1. Winter kills all the things that can't survive the cold, but those strong creatures, those that can bear the harsh conditions are those that wake from their sleep and rise from 'death'. Don't worry. Hold on to your Confession and your Spiritual Direction; hold on to your Lord. He knows just the way to rise from death into glory.

  2. Carrie,

    Thank you.

    Truly, my heart is overflowing.

    Thank you.

  3. I (don't think) I've ever said so, because I admire you SOOOO much, and you ARE soooo capable, but I DO know you are not perfect. :)

    It only adds to how MUCH I love you!!!

    I don't much know about the depression......

    I never want to press you, because I understand the need for privacy----but always know I am here. Want to be there for you!

    The best is you KNOW, that Jesus is there for you---and will always pull you out!