Yesterday when I arrived home from my much needed self care Zumba Fitness class I noticed a folded up piece of loose-leaf paper obviously torn out from a spiral notebook sitting on my bed. I have come home to these love-filled Sophia notes for years now. They always put a huge smile on my face. It’s as if she is psychic and knows exactly when Mommy could use a little more love. But, this note was quite different and instead of a huge smile on my face, my eyes shed tears and it left me upset… at myself once again. Sophia’s note:
Your Depretion (Depression) was made from me because I didn’t laugh when you rocked me. I didn’t laugh when you cuddeled (cuddled) with me when I was a baby. I read the holl (whole) book thing that you wrote when you were in the Hopital (Hospital). I cryed (cried) because it said that.
I SO SORRY
P.S. I miss Tyler.”
My initial reaction involved dropping the paper on the bed and running to her, my precious child, with arms open repeating, “It is not your fault, Sophia, it is not your fault.” We embraced for several moments with her echoing, “Yes it is, I didn’t laugh enough as a baby, that made you sad.”
This letter she read from me was written during my 5th bout of Depression, this time moderate instead of the two major bouts that straddled this 5th time. At this time, Sophia had just turned 2 years old, a happy peppy toddler enjoying life. She had no clue that Mommy spent nights after work crying in her room as she slept peacefully upstairs. I never showed her my emotions because at 2 she wouldn’t grasp any concept of why her Mommy was crying multiple times a day. She wouldn’t understand why her Mommy wanted to stay in bed. This time that Depression inhabited my body had nothing to do with her, nothing to do with raising a toddler and its demands. This time it had to do with work and the huge amount of stress I was under there.
I had decided to write to Sophia during this time to explain to her why Mommy has her moments and what she is thinking and feeling during these times. I did this because I had no idea how many more times I would find myself locked up in Depression’s cell during her lifetime. The strange thing with the above letter from her is I don’t recall saying I became sad because she didn’t laugh enough. Whether or not I actually came out and literally said it or if she interpreted it that way, it hurt her.
I hurt my daughter, my main source of love and happiness in my life. That in itself was reason enough to cry and hate myself.
How to explain this to her… how do I explain my serial dealings of Depression and Anxiety are NO ONE’S fault when I don’t believe it myself. Maybe this is why I am still in therapy to this day. Yes, I didn’t choose to become Mentally Ill (honestly, who would?!) but I am the one who suffered from it. I am the one who put my husband and my parents through hell. I am the one reason Tyler is not in our house. I am the one who scared my daughter this past winter. I am the one who hurt my daughter in this letter. I am the crazy one.
Call it major guilt, shame, blame, regret… I have fleeting moments when it is all I can focus on and last night after reading this emotional letter from my almost 9 year old daughter, I had one of these moments that has carried into this morning. I didn’t know what to say to convince her it is not her fault. I explained to her Mommy is the one who is ill. She asked why Depression made me feel those feelings I had written. I said it is just the way my brain is made up. She asked if it wasn’t my fault, was in Grandpa’s because I got it from him? I said no, it is the illness’ fault…
The Illness’ fault… how do you blame something you can’t see? Huh… very similar to proving you are in fact Mentally Ill when there is no physical evidence… And then, how do you convince your child to blame this something you can’t see when you feel like a hypocrite because you yourself can’t do it?
Full of emotions, I sat on her bed later that night and told her that I loved her. I told her that I was sorry if it seemed to her like I blamed her. I was sorry that I scared her, I never meant for her to see me at my worst. I hugged her, kissed her, tucked her hair behind her ear and stared at this remarkably beautiful child. I explained how I missed Tyler too. I grabbed her hands and kissed them and I told her (and myself) convincingly, “It’s not your fault baby girl, it’s nobody’s fault.”