The Girl Behind Fox Hollow Cottage (part one)
I’m going to warn you right off the bat.
I have a tendency to ramble.
I’ll try not to, but I can’t make any promises. I want to write this from the heart and as it flows.
There are some things I want to share with you, and I think it’s time. I’m going to start writing, and I might hit publish when I am done. If you are reading this now, then I gulped and did it. (and I’m probably sick to my stomach right now!)
Like all of you I have a story. It’s not necessarily earth-shattering, but I have one. There have been times over the last few years, since I began blogging in 2011, that I have wanted to reach out in a more personal way to my readers. My readers? I don’t like how that sounds because to me, I’m just a girl (I never refer to myself as a woman, I don’t know why?) that has a blog that some people read. In my mind, I’m just like you.
Back to the sharing part though… some of the most important moments in my life are the milestones we all have growing up, plus things like getting married and having children. The things I’ve held back on talking about and the experiences I’ve wanted to share are about the darker, imperfect parts of my life.
Not long ago, when a popular actor committed suicide, I felt an urge to share how I too have dealt with depression. Obviously I’d never felt an equal depth of despair, because I never sought that release, but I wanted to shout; “I hurt too sometimes, but hang in there! You can never feel better if you’re not here!” I wanted to talk and open a dialogue. But it felt wrong. I didn’t want to be perceived as trying to, gosh… I don’t know… make it “about me”. The timing was not right. It was talked about on the Fox Hollow Cottage Facebook page, because I did not want to ignore it, but I didn’t share anything personal. The timing didn’t feel right, even though I had thought about it previous to that, on many occasions. If you happened to read a personal story, or share at that time, please know I am not bashing… it simply was not right, for me.
I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since I was in grade school.
(Not when I was this young. Who could be sad rocking a groovy green jumpsuit?)
I don’t recall being an unhappy child. It smacked me upside the head, oh, about my pre-teen years.
I can vividly recall sitting in class and wanting to go home so badly, to be anywhere, but in that room… that if I could have, I would have wished myself into non-existence. I could have disappeared into pure nothingness, flowed into a black hole in the floor… anything just to not be there. What I did accomplish, was making myself sick to my stomach with nerves. I frequently visited the nurses office. I was forever calling my mom to come pick me up. The best case scenario was if my mom was not home. Remember, there were no cell phones back then, in the “olden days”. If my mom did not pick-up, next on the list… was grandma. My mom’s mom.
Grandma was the best! She would roll up to school in her giant, tuna-boat car and whisk me away to the safety of a pale aqua kitchen, creaky, linoleum covered wood floors and a hand scooped, vanilla milk shake made with whole milk and Hershey’s chocolate syrup from a little tin can. The same tin can, when empty, that was used to cut homemade biscuits from the rolled out dough. You know a milkshake cures a stomachache right? In the few short blocks from my school to my grandmother’s house, I would already be feeling much better, as relief would wash over me. We would sit in her big chair, put our feet up on the ottoman, and I would watch her stories with her. I don’t know if she knew or suspected there was more to it. She is gone know so I can’t ask her. I’d like to think she did and just acted as a haven, knowing my mom would sort me out.
This was wonderful while It lasted, but at some point, my mom had to come get me. My mom is the best, she is and was, loving and nurturing, but she also knew there was rarely a damn thing wrong with me. There was of course, but it had nothing to do with a cold or flu. The anxiety would start to build while I waited for her to come fetch me because I knew I wasn’t physically ill, but the desire to be away from school was so strong, I was willing to incur her disappointment and unhappiness with me to escape.
(This is me at 12, rocking the Farrah feathers)
For anyone who suffers from depression or anxiety, you’ll know that school had nothing to do with it. I liked school well enough most days. I was a good student, my teacher’s liked me (when I wasn’t talking) and I had a lot of friends. I actually enjoyed school on days when, as I know now, I wasn’t in a depressive slump, or something hadn’t triggered a huge ball of anxiety in my chest. When you are in grade school though, you have no clue what is going on. I wasn’t so much escaping from, but running to someplace I could better manage my emotions, like home or my grandmas’s house.
Fast forward to Junior High and into High School and it only got worse. I would feign illness because I could not even begin to deal with the blackness. There was no more coming home from school, I just wasn’t getting up to go at all. I wasn’t home enough to call attention from the school for excessive absences, but I was definitely staying home because of my inability to deal with my feelings. I could not even begin to express my feelings or pinpoint them. My parents tried so hard to find out “what was wrong”… but I didn’t have the words. There really were none. Nothing was wrong. My answer was always; “I don’t know?” And I didn’t. It was all chemicals and emotions. There wasn’t an external cause. You see, hormones play a major part in depression. Two days could be exactly alike, but if my hormones were off… which hello? Teenage girl! Double whammy. I could not function like I did any other day.
I saw the school counselor, but all I could share were just normal, everyday teenage problems. I had no idea how to articulate the way I felt.
(My Senior Photo)
I have to reiterate, that much like in grade school, I was mostly happy in High School. I had teachers I loved, and hated. lol. I had very close friends, I had larger, more casual groups of friends as well. I attended school functions, was in school groups, was a T.A, took college-prep courses, worked, dated, went out on weekends, etc… Oh, I was also a typical, know-it-all teenager. I rolled my eyes, popped my hip, did the “sigh” of disgust. I was mostly what you would call a “good kid” though.
In fact, I think I had a killer childhood and a ton of fun growing up!! I consider myself so lucky. I didn’t experience any sort of extreme trauma, this was just something I went through, and continue to deal with.
I’m going to break here and leave off at High School. I obviously survived… but there is more story to tell and I don’t want to skip anything important. Or have you nod-off while reading!!
Thank you so much for reading if you are still here.
My hope in sharing, is that this helps someone else who might be feeling lost or sad, know that you can make it! You can find ways to cope, be happy, and you can have a great life!! I’ll be sharing how I have managed to do just that in a future post.
*UPDATE: you can now click here to read part two
Before I go, I do need to be clear on something, suicide is not something I have ever considered, even when feeling my absolute worst so please don’t worry for me.
If suicide is something you have or do think about, please, please, please seek help. In that one moment, you don’t want to make a choice that you can never come back from. There is hope. There is help.
You can click here to visit The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and live chat if you are in crisis.
Or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
PS: All my original comments and responses were sadly lost… as comments are automatically disabled on older posts (which I didn’t realize) but you can always message me on Facebook or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org