When I was young and in a sour mood, my mom would see me moping around and she would tell me to “Keep on keepin’ on”* which makes more sense in my head than it does when I write it out. Basically, “Just keep moving forward, things will get better.” It’s been my manta these last few months, and while I would prefer to be able to call my mom and have her tell me herself, her voice is still loud and clear in my memory. “Buck up, Sam, keep on keepin’ on.”
The depression that sank over me almost 2 months ago was smothering, and through the rough days, I lived in one hour lifetimes. If I could just get through one more hour, it would be okay. One more hour, and then I could call Tom and ask him to come home. One more hour, and I could put Ella down for an early nap (and not feel bad when she sat in her room and yelled that she wasn’t tired). One more hour. I could do an hour. A day felt like eternity, and the idea of what a month from then would look like was impossible, but I could do an hour. And during that hour, I would just keep on keeping on, one foot in front of the other, one more forced smile to keep my daughter from asking “Mama sad? Mama want kisses? Tickles?”
And slowly, it’s gotten better. Depression is not the sort of thing you go to sleep deep in the mire of, and wake up the next day suddenly able to see the sun. It’s slow going & you circle back on your own footsteps time and again, but eventually you realize that you are not sinking quite so deeply with each step. And then you use bad metaphors and realize that you can laugh at yourself, which is to say: it gets better. You just keep on keeping on.
I guess here I have to say that if you are struggling with depression, and more to the point, postpartum depression, sometimes ‘keeping on’ isn’t enough. It’s individual, and I feel like, having been down the depression road before, I knew my limits. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I should have kept the appointment I had with a counselor. Maybe I bet right, and I have come out of the fog without their help as fast as I would have with it, but looking back, it’s not worth the bet. If you are struggling, reach out. I am blessed with friends, both local and online, who have been down this road, and just knowing they were there at 2Am, ready to pick up the phone if I called, made it easier to get through that hour. If you come across this, and need to chat, comment. I can’t say I’ve fought the dragons and won, but I fought a good sized gila monster and see 2AM more than I see 9AM.
Because if you are where I was, you can’t realize how happy you are still capable of being. You can’t understand how one day soon you will look at your family and realize that this, this is worth keeping on.
*Edited to add because I win at Google: Oh my, it’s a song that I suddenly remember my mom singing, which makes me blink back tears. We just keep on keeping on.