I have never made a real New Year's resolution except once, when I was nineteen and vowed that I wouldn't spend another year being battered and humiliated by my mentally unstable monster of a boyfriend. It took me a few months--four months, three days, eight hours and thirty-two minutes, to be precise--before I managed to make a break for it, but the break was successful and I thought to myself, This is the most important resolution I am ever likely to make, so let me just stop while I'm ahead.
Sure, each year around the holidays I give myself a little pep talk about whole grains and cutting back on buttery cheese, about daily yoga and me-time and having more patience with the kids. Not a heartfelt resolution; more of an exercise in hopeful thinking. But this year, today, I am making a new resolution. I am resolved to come to terms with my biggest problem and seek some help.
So, here it is: I am depressed. Mildly depressed, but depressed nonetheless. I feel aimless but anxious, unenthusiastic and detached. I find myself smiling too late in conversation because I have to consciously remind myself to do it. I have become quick to take offense and even quicker to argue, especially with Jeff. But even the arguments peter out like a leaky balloon when I just sigh and leave the room, unwilling to expend the energy to work through it.
I have been telling myself for about two years that I am not depressed, that I am sleep deprived and hormonal and overworked and getting older and over-caffeinated and stressed out but I’m OK, I’m fine, or at least I will be fine once I get a break, get some sleep. And you know what? It was a little bit true. After two weeks away from work, several long naps and a week at home with lots of easy-going relatives on hand to play with the kids, I felt a tickle of happiness and motivation that was bright and clean and lasted a fair while—less intense but much longer than those short but searingly joyful moments that pepper every day I get with the kids (those moments when Olivia leaps into my arms, her face awash in pleasure, or when Josh looks into my eyes and tells me in his sweet, raspy voice that he loves me). Feeling a mild enthusiasm sustained over whole hours reminded me that that’s how I used to feel, if not all of the time, at least most of it. I had enough energy and ambition to look forward to challenges. Now, I mostly avoid them. Whether it’s situational or physiological or psychological, it’s here and it’s real.
I am loath to admit this, but the last time I felt really good, solidly happy for a whole day, was the day Josh was born. And this has led me to wonder if my desire for another baby might be influenced by how content, and how present, I felt while pregnant. But maybe that’s a whole post on its own.
I don’t yet know quite what to do about it, where to go next, but I am, finally, resolved to do something. Even if all I get is a better understanding of why I feel this way, give it some structure, that might be enough for now. I don’t want medication (trying to get pregnant, fear of dependence on pharmaceuticals), and it seems unlikely that it would be of much use for me anyway. But my resolution for 2010 is this: If there are basic medical issues triggering this—thyroid, iron, vitamin D, whatever—I will make the time to dog my doctors and get to the bottom of them. If the recommendation is therapy, I will make the time to go. If the prescription is more sleep and more exercise, I will make the time for those. And if I fail in this, I hope someone out there will remind me of this promise and shame me into action. Because I think this one may actually be the most important resolution I’ve ever made.