“Daddy, why are you sad?”
The question was innocent; without judgment. The answer however, was heavy; weighed down by years of self-judgment.
I’ve talked about my long battle with depression on many occasions. It’s something that has caused me a great deal of grief over my lifetime, almost bringing everything to a close at one point. But through all the trials; all the ups and downs, I’ve always been able to dig myself out of my hole. I’ve always been able to ride the waves, and right the ship. But something feels different this time; scarier.
My depression has always just been sadness based. I usually get down, on myself and on life. I feel tired and withdrawn, and even get cranky. But now…now I’m scared all the time. Depression is clearly tired of being ignored since I’ve been on medication, so it decided to invite a friend along this time, in the form of anxiety. I spend the majority of my day thinking, pondering, worrying.
The Wife and I are expecting our second child within the next 6-8 weeks. This time we’re having a girl. I think it’s finally setting in that I’m going to be responsible for a little girl, and it terrifies me. I know this may sound crazy, but what if she doesn’t like me…what if she doesn’t love me?
I’m not talking about the typical, what if she likes mom more than dad. I’m talking about, what if she views me the same way every other woman, who has been blood-related to me, has viewed me – as something not worth valuing? What if my daughter some day sees me as something to discard? And before you tell me that’s impossible, just look at my track record:
- Mother – physically and mentally abusive, discarding me on many occasions
- Maternal Grandmother – cut all ties to me and sided with my mother
- Paternal Grandmother – cut all ties to me at age 12 and never told me why
I’m supposed to be the first example of what a man is supposed to be for my daughter; what if I fail? Or even worse, what if the Wife and I struggle again, and this time we really lose ourselves?
These are the things I worry about. And then there’s my son. As much shit as I give my kid on my Facebook page, he’s a sweet loving kid. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a dick, but he’s also a sweet kid. The kid has a laugh that is infectious. No matter how mad I am at him, when he laughs, I can’t not smile along. He cuddles with me every morning, and a million other times a day. The kid literally thinks I’m a super-hero, without knowing my kryptonite lives just inside me, and possibly in him too. Every time I go through a bout of depression, it weighs on me that he could be me one day. I fear that beautiful smile will fade away as he ages, and be replaced with bouts of worry and anxiety, and even more I fear he will blame me.
I know these are all irrational thoughts. I know my son loves me, and and I know my daughter will too. I know that neither of them will have to experience the childhood I did. They will never know an absent father, or abusive mother. If anything they will get sick of how much the Wife and I shower them with love.
Depression doesn’t care about rational thought. It doesn’t care about all the self-care and steps you’re taking. It just wants to see you broken. It wants you to doubt yourself. It wants to you give up.
I’m not going to end this with some redemption type statement, or some uplifting/motivational moment, because the truth is, depression is winning right now. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit. I just have to get back up and find a new way to deal with this. If I teach my children anything, I hope it’s this; depression is real, it’s not something to just get over. But no matter how down you are, you can get up, and you can move forward. It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to suck. But you won’t be alone, because your dad understands.