A classmate named Sarah recently told my four year-old son…
For the most part, nobody noticed. There were no inquiries or accusations. Time just passed. It slipped by and took me with it. 2017 was my worst year ever.
In 2016 I was able to declare that my depression and anxiety were in check. I pondered a victory lap and ramped off my medication. Twenty-eight years of depression had dwindled into an imperceptible speck on the radar of my life. It was a great relief. I cherished time with my husband and our young son, we traveled, and all was well.
Then 2017 arrived. In January, I was still in denial over the 2016 presidential election. Many of us were being called “snowflakes” for being appalled that the worst imaginable candidate had won the election.
If I was a “snowflake”, so be it. Call me anything you’d like, but the election pulled the rug from beneath me. Unfortunately it also brought the return of my depression and anxiety. I was unable to function.
I circled the wagons. I focused my limited energy on raising my son, my marriage, and my household. I was physically fatigued and napped often. Friendships and social engagements suffered as I became stingy with my time.
My writing suffered. I could not articulate a thing. My fatherhood blog sat idle. How could I write about being a good parent when I was doing so poorly?
I tried to be present as much as possible when my son was home from school. I tried to sound upbeat and positive. But, I suspect he knew Papa was not feeling well. He would often kiss my forehead if I said I had a headache. “Is it better now, Papa?” he would ask. “Yes”, I’d say, regardless of the situation. “Yes, it’s much better now.” If only it were that easy.
What I saw happen to the United States in 2017 was sad. Our new president continues to bring shame upon us on a daily basis. I had always been interested in politics and the way the media covered politics. I was a news junkie and kept abreast of current events. Now, I had to stop watching the news. For a time I even stopped participating in social media. I took the Facebook app off my phone and refused to be drawn in by presidential politics. But, there was no avoiding it.
I returned to my doctor early in 2017 and tried to correct course. I was put back on antidepressants and felt a tinge of defeat. If only I were more physically active; if only I were a vegetarian; if only I were a spiritual master – then I would be free of medication and live a joyous, normal life. That wasn’t the case.
The new medication never kicked in. It never worked. I spiraled into 2017 deeper and deeper in depression. My husband asked, in various ways, “When will this end?”
It wasn’t until the end of the year that I insisted on returning to the medication I took in 2016. It isn’t one of the latest, greatest pills that you see in television commercials, but it is one that works for me. In several weeks, as the year ended, I felt a lift. Thank God.
In 2018, I am going to spend my days studying spirituality, increasing my level of self-acceptance, moving my ass and getting more physically fit, and trying to be the best husband and father I can be.
So, if you checked in on me in 2017 and noticed that I was not publishing any essays or work, now you know what the deal was. I felt I had nothing to offer. People suggested I write my way through the depression and write about the depression – but I just couldn’t. So, here we are. Let’s let 2017 live in the past — where it belongs.