I have always been a naturally happy person.
I was just born that way.
Back in 2011 I was living my version of a Fairy Tale Life.
I was a single mom living in the North Park district of San Diego with a beautiful little girl, but unlike the traditional view of single moms - I LOVED it. I didn't lack for income, help, or support. I lived with my sister who generously split the bills, including groceries down the middle with me, I had parents who loved taking care of my daughter, I had a teaching career, which paid plenty for a family of 2, and I was able to do as I wished as I did not have a partner to invest my time in. I also had plenty of family members who gift my daughter anything her little heart could have desired.
I then met my now-husband, who was wonderful as well. And happened to live in the Bay Area.
All this did, was add trips to San Francisco to my already awesome life itinerary.
Soon enough... my double birth control baby was on its way
I've always said that My Ancestors felt I needed more children, as this child should not have been conceived.
After some discussions, I moved away from the little nest I had built as a single mom, and moved to the Bay Area.
It was nice.
As much as I loved San Diego, the Bay Area was slightly cooler, a lot more green, was easier to attain organic sustainable food at, and I now had a small family. Everything I thought I wanted.
My middle child was born, and the postpartum depression came.
It was tough for me, who had always been happy, to find myself in a dark hole with no way out. My house, which had always been clean (not because I am a genuinely clean person - but because a home which has constant drop in visitors can't be slobby. And a home, which constantly has women who love you visiting, keeps kid toys off the floor) became a disgusting mess. The trash cans were overfilled.
The windows would go without opening, as I insisted that the busy street I lived next to was affecting the air quality.
All the food I cooked would be burnt. I had a hard time keeping my clothes clean.
But I trucked on. I had to. I had two children and a husband to care for.
The Dr's suggested medication and I turned it down. Still though,
My naturally happy self and my positive disposition poked their head through again, and I was able to cope.
I learned that if you fake a smile for long enough it becomes real. I learned why skipping showers (something I had never had audacity to do) was disgusting. I learned to keep lemon flavored essential oils in my home. I learned how to mix water with rosemary, and mint, and would spray it on my curtains and beddings. I showered using rose petal flavored goods.
And I survived.
And then another child was blessed to me
I could not keep my head above water. Everything that had been "wrong" for my first pregnancy was even more wrong.
I can't tell too much about it, because I don't remember much. Everything was pretty much a blur. Like when you are crying and you can see but can't focus because the tears in your eyes won't let you.
I remember going to psychologists and counselors. All of them trying to shove pills down my throat.
"Don't you want to get better?" They would ask.
I visited acupuncturists. I became a Reiki Master. I worked on my intuition. I changed my diet. I meditated. I went to yoga.
I did the best I could, I am sure.
But I was terribly lonely. Something that doesn't make sense when you are surrounded by three lovely children.
I felt as if I was going to die. My chest would feel like it was caving in.
I would get sick. What's this? I would ask myself confused.
"It's just the flu." my husband would explained. How do you explain the flu to someone who has heard about people having it, but has never really experienced it themselves?
Being sick in bed? Whoa.
Strange stomach cramps would fill me to the point where I found myself in the ER with the Doctors and Nurses looking at me sadly.
"The x-rays say there's nothing wrong."
Let alone all the "pregnancy weight" I gained, which I now recognize as depression eating. My hips were stuck, I could barely walk. I was always swollen. My hair fell out in bunches not matter how many vitamins I took.
Things were horrible. Horrible. The house was a bigger mess, there was crusted food in places. The kids would be planted in front of the television.
And thank you to God for finding a carpool for my oldest
Because I had a hard time getting to work on time. The mom's around me thought I was simply struggling with a little kid and a big belly, then two little kids.
They would ask how I was, and I would answer with a bright smile.
Bright smiles kept me alive, and I wasn't going to lose them no matter how much I felt like I was dying inside.
Things slowly got better, because it's hard for things to get worse, when you are surrounded by healthy bodies, good food and sunshine
Somewhere around that time, I found steemit, and thankfully, the STEEMITMAMAS
More moms from around the world, all going through similar things!
I took control of my life again through my blogging. I didn't want to blog about depression and being sad.
I didn't want to blog lies and untruths.
So I did what I do best. I put my best foot forward, let myself go out in the sun, and I made it through.
I homeschooled my kids so we could concentrate on Mental Health, as health is more important than traditional education.
Trips to San Diego were my saving grace
At least twice per year I found myself at my mom's house and looooooooved life again. I would go back to the Bay Area, refreshed and ready for more. Then the depression would creep back in. I would count down the days until the next vacation.
And I would arm myself with strength against the medication "they" wanted me to take.
There were always new emails in my inbox about the new this or the new that. Telling me that it was ok to medicate myself with this pill or that pill. If it wasn't for my trips to San Diego, I would have fell in the trap.
With my blogging, and my mom group, and my vacations. More and more of me started coming back.
And then one trip, I was ready enough to go out with my friends
I missed them dearly. But they're guys, and "married women" can't go out with a group of guys. But I did anyway.
I was at a bar, surrounded by a wonderful crew, when one of them asked me.
"So when are you coming back?"
I'd been talking about moving back to San Diego since I moved to the Bay Area. And I sprouted out some lame answer about how I needed to prepare, and save money, and find a place to live, and get my husband to retire. (The Bay Area move was always supposed to be temporary, with my husband retiring in time for my kids to still have the San Diego Elementary School Experience)
"You're just making excuses" My friend responded.
And this single comment made me see that I was miserable in the Bay Area, but was living in fear with the inability to move. I was scared. Plain and simple.
I took my friends comment to heart.
And I just stayed in San Diego.
I planted myself in my mom's two bedroom Senior Living community, and did not move. Three kids an all.
I knew I couldn't stay there for long. But I knew that the Bay Area, with all its wonderful attributes meant death through depression.
The Bay Area meant putting my kids in high chairs, and strapping them in while I covered my head with a pillow and screamed.
The Bay Area meant ripping my beautiful hair out.
The Bay Area meant worrying about money when my combined income was the highest it had ever been.
The Bay area meant darkness while standing in blinding sunlight.
I haven't felt depression since
I don't know if its my mom's cooking.
Or seeing my grandparents at least twice a month.
Or hanging out with my parents at least twice a week.
Or family parties.
But I think its just being surrounded by family. Having my nieces drop in just for fun. Being at the mall and bumping into people I am related to. Saturday after Saturday of birthday parties, and baby showers. Being out for a drive and waving at people I know.
My children and I get stopped in the street all the time
And my kids are used to it now. They know its people from my past, who make up the fabric of my present.
It's beautiful to see old classmates at Parent Meetings. It's nice to have previously worked with the staff at the children's school. It's fun to see people I grew up with out and about.
It's nice to send them back to school!
It's nice to go to 7-11 and see the same cashier from when I was in third grade.
It's great to be home
Depression what? Depression who?
I am pregnant again. And my husband is living in the Bay Area. And I work a whole lot. I freelance, I drive the kids around, I keep their clothes clean, I pack them lunches. We eat good food. And we spend a lot of time with family.
In the Bay Area I didn't have the challenges I have here
But in the Bay Area, I didn't have the San Diego Fabric to hold me together.
It's been over a year and I haven't locked myself up in my room to cry not even just once. I haven't screamed into pillows. Made sprays just to survive the day. We go outside every day. The TV is no longer the babysitter.
And although I still don't go out with my friends, I know they are a phone call away, and available again, in case I need some CPR.
Thank you for reading my story about how Being Home and Surrounded by extended family was the only depression medication I needed. I sure am glad I did not fall into the trap of pharmaceuticals.