For two months I intentionally closed my laptop and stopped writing. All in the name of survival.
Most of 2014 I was bombarded with stuff. Not all bad, mostly good. But stuff nonetheless. Physical stuff making my house a complete wreck and cluttering my inner-self. I became a mom in two weeks and was bombarded by learning how to navigate parenthood and keep two babies thriving. Bombarded by work. Bombarded by clients. Bombarded by lists. Bombarded by guilt for not finishing the book that was almost done in 2013. Bombarded by failure for not following some life-long dreams. Bombarded by navigating self-employment and its responsibilities. Bombarded by major life decisions. Bombarded by self-loathing for not having the capacity for writing here when all I want to do is write all the feelings.
Gah, those feelings!
I was so bombarded that one night a few weeks ago I had a panic attack so fierce, I thought I might have to go to the hospital. Like, “stick a needle in my butt to sedate me” kind of panic attack.
Sometimes real life behind the blog and Instagram is ugly. But no one talks about the ugly. I mean the “snot on my face, tears in the carpet, scream-crying into a pillow” kind of ugly. It’s the elephant in the blogging living room. We want to keep our spaces pretty and styled for a pinterest-worthy space. We don’t want to really go into the caves of the ugly because that’s too vulnerable and messy.
But I want to because there’s someone out there sitting in that cave who needs to know they’re not alone. I’ve been sitting in the cave next to yours. *waving* Hi, neighbor.
I was laying on the floor of my closet, sobbing and heaving for air after having collapsed and crawled there for some sort of escape. Why the closet? Maybe I was looking for the wardrobe to lead me to Narnia. Who knows. But I was desperate. Desperate for air, for space, for a season to just feel like me again instead of the Hannah that everyone needed me to be.
Ever have a panic attack? It’s like trying to take a breath after jumping into ice water. You can’t breathe because you’ll drown. In 2014 I was thrown into the ice water forced to become acclimated to being the Hannah of many hats.
And I was all out of hats.
The noise was so loud. The pressure too much. There was no way I could give my 100% to everything all the time – mom, wife, employee, blogger, writer, dreamer. I constantly felt like I was letting everyone down around me. I hate letting people down. And what made me feel like a failure was I wasn’t taking on any extra loads; this was my daily life that was eating at me. The life that had to happen to survive. Something had to give for a season so I could breathe. I had to scrounge around for something I could pause.
So I temporarily closed my laptop. I gave myself permission to not feel obligated to write. It’s the area that had room for flexibility. My children still need me. My husband still needs me. I still have to work.
I felt like for all of 2014 I had run a marathon that wasn’t ending and I needed to stop and train for the next stages. Whatever those next stages would be.
That panicked night, I fell asleep on the closet floor. I don’t know how long I was there.
When I woke up I stayed in a major depression for weeks.
I stopped every ounce of creativity just to meet the daily demands. Just making it through the day-to-day routine took every ounce of my energy and in turn, spiraled me into depression.
Let’s talk about the cave of depression. Have you ever been there? It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s lonely. And I imagine it smells like moth balls.
Depression is a miserable place. A place where you slap on a smile in public and sob into your pillow in private for what seems like no reason at all. And UGH, how stupid does that make you feel? A place where a perfectly healthy body aches. A place where even when circumstances are good with a roof over your head, food on the table, healthy family, loving friends – depression makes you lose that perspective. A place that makes a perfectly sane person want to take a permanent nap to escape. And no one knows what you’re going through because you have no words to articulate how or why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. Even now, as I feel better, I still feel like an inarticulate emo trying to talk to you about it.
Because depression lies and tells you you’re all alone and there’s no hope.
I can’t even tell you how I’ve made (am making) it out. Jesus? Duh. Sprinkled with some grace. And perspective. And some Vitamin D, B, and St. John’s Wort. (a terrible name for anything)
But here I am. Huddled on the couch during nap time with my coffee next to me and laptop open, clacking away.
I’ve gained a small amount of control. I feel strength enough to guard the door to keep most of the “Bombards” from barging in on their own. Instead, I’m the one giving them permission whether or not they are allowed into my space.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the demands but I’m starting to feel like Hannah again. It’s a process. But I see the sun peeking into the cave.