Hey! I’m back. By the skin of my teeth.

by renegademama

I have never been quite as lost as I was the past few months.

I think it started with Mac’s hand injury on December 29. Maybe it doesn’t sound huge, but it was. Something about a 6 foot piece of sheet metal dropping 40 feet onto your best friend and husband, father of your 4 children – the vulnerability, the sudden realization of his vulnerability – though it seems at times invisible. Watching him in pain, in surgery, recovery, realizing he will always be in some pain from arthritis and screwed-up joints.

The surgeon was amazed he had his hand let alone his life.

Just a couple weeks after that a family member was harmed by someone in a real, terrifying way. I cannot go into details, will not, but my fallibility as a mother came crashing into my reality and I thought for the first time, “My God I really cannot protect them, not fully.” I even got a calendar out and counted the days from the day I became a mother until that one: 13 years, 1 month and 29 days.

That’s how long I made it.

 

And then, Mac called to work out of town. Gone. Barely cleared to work, then gone.

First 5 days a week. Then 6.

Then sometimes 7.

It’ll be done in July. No, August. Hopefully August.

And me, there, with all those fucking kids. And my job.

The thoughts took over my brain:

for many reasons, I prefer this man home. ha.

for many reasons, I prefer this man home. ha.

I can’t survive this.
I’m so miserable.
Why is my career (because I work too, ya know?) hinging on HIS? Why is my life less important than HIS? Why is my career/life/existence PUT ON HOLD (transformed completely) because HIS work changes?

Oh, the self pity.

And then, rage. Resentment. Rage at all of it: The hand, the injury to my child, the loneliness, the incessant routine and relentless, mindless, unforgiving work of babyhood and toddlerhood and children and house and work.

I had two panic attacks. I had never had one before in my life. I woke up sweating and shaking with irrational, racing thoughts.

Good times.

A gray settled around my head. I found myself unable to sleep but never wanting to leave my bed. Crying for no reason or any reason.

Yelling, irritated, anxious.

 

I knew this feeling. I hadn’t had it since post-partum depression with Ava. I knew it well. The rumination. The remembering back before I had kids, the staring at myself naked in the mirror before I got in the shower: The disgust. At my body, my face, the wrinkles. The gray hair. Non-descript self-hatred.

Why don’t you take care of yourself you loser? Still wearing maternity clothes because you’ve never bothered to get others I see? WHAT A FUCKING LOSER.

And fat. Still fat. How did you get so fat? Why do you turn to food? DISGUSTING.

And all these kids. You have no business with these kids.

All of it is a mistake. Every moment of your life.

Think about Spain. Remember that? 20 years old, thin, beautiful, your whole life ahead of you. You had a chance then but you ruined it.

Had a kid at 22. Full-blown alcoholic by 24. LOSER.

Remember when your life had purpose and meaning and hope?

 

Writing this, I see how stupid it is. Writing it, I see how ridiculous and melodramatic it is. But try explaining that to me when I’m in the middle of it.

All the days were like this. I was in 2 small car accidents from not paying attention. Zombie-like exhaustion. Inability to finish sentences. Getting words wrong. Sadness. Rage.

And then it shifted to apathy, and I knew I was fucked.

I tried taking a weekend away at a yoga farm. Ha. Ha. Ha. (Although that weekend did help me in a way I didn’t expect).

I tried a therapist (she was the worst I had ever seen in my life and I’m looking for another).

And then, I made myself a deal: I would try all the health stuff I could, “go back to the basics” of my life and if I didn’t feel better in a month I would go to the doctor.

So I did research on mood and vitamin deficiencies and hooked myself up with B12, probiotics, Omega-3, Vitamin D, turmeric supplements. I cut down on sugar, increased water. I took my placenta pills in case it was hormonal. (YES I AM THAT HIPPIE.) I prayed and meditated, a little each day. Yes, I believe in God. I believe in a power of good underlying all things. I believe I can tap into that power because it’s made of the same shit I am. I believe this is the same power holding the motherfucking planets in their spots in an infinite universe.

I believe God doesn’t care if I say “motherfucking.”

I tried to get more exercise. I went to my acupuncturist who treated me for anxiety (and his help removed the panic attacks) and suggested I get outside and do at least ONE fun thing with my kids every day. So I did.

this was the actual day I spent with Georgia and remembered motherhood could be fun

this was the actual day I spent with Georgia and remembered motherhood could be fun

The very next day I blew off work and took Georgia to the park, just because. I had forgotten that it was fun, too, to be a mom.

I told my friend Kate I couldn’t do anything and my house was beyond recall. She said “Get up and clean your fucking house Janelle. YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING.”

That day I said “I will clean one closet today.” And I did. It was the linen closet.

The next day I said “Now I’ll clean this one.” And I did.

And then the armoir. Each day, one thing.

The 4th day, I cleaned my house. It was the simple act of taking action. It was moving forward. It was tiny steps toward normalcy, toward feeling a little okay, a little in control.

A friend sent me a book that reminded me of what I had always known, but somehow forgot: The events of my life are neutral. The events of my life do not have an emotional charge in themselves. My emotional state is the result of a three-fold process:

First, the event. Then, my thoughts about that event; and finally: The emotions caused by my thoughts.

The problem was not that my husband was gone or that my life sucked. The problem was that I had convinced myself I was the eternal broken victim, could not survive in these conditions and was a VICTIM of my life.

I felt hopeless because I had painted a hopeless story. And I believed it. And I told it and retold it until I forgot it was even a story in the first place.

Remembering it was a story – an egoic invention – was like a thousand pounds lifted off my back. OH, that’s right, my soul seemed to say, “You’re okay. You’re not in charge of this rodeo. You’re along for a ride, and this is what the scenery looks like right now. You can either work with it or die trying to fight against it.”

I surrendered, I guess, again.

the hand was something like this

the hand was something like this

A couple days later I was nursing my baby Arlo when he flattened out his hand against my breast and his little fat palm felt like a piece of velvet across my aching skin and I wept. At the touch. Just that. I don’t know why. Something about the feel of his little hand against me that afternoon in that bed reminded me of what I am and who I am and what I have and that I always, always, somehow get carried.

It told me I was okay.

What washed over me was a profound sense of reality, of gratefulness, of TRUTH. FIVE YEARS AGO I WAS DRINKING ANCIENT AGE WHISKEY AND SMOKING PALL MALL CIGARETTES ALONE IN A BEIGE FORD TAURUS WONDERING HOW I WOULD EVER GET MY LIFE BACK.

And now, it’s all back. It’s better than I could have dreamed, and I’m spinning in circles of “This isn’t good enough.”

I was crushed under the weight of his tiny beauty, and the sacredness of my life. And the story changed. 

 

It was a close call. I dodged full-blown depression. I watched myself spiraling down and caught it just in time, with a lot of help from people who love me.

But I hesitated to even write this for fear that people would think I am saying that we can cure ourselves from depression. NO NOPE NOPITY NOPE FUCK NO not what I’m saying.

I don’t think you can take supplements and fix your depression or pray or meditate or eat better or exercise your way out of depression. I don’t think the touch of a baby or cleaning out a fucking linen closet can heal you.

What I’m saying is that I’ve been on every motherfucking psych med known to man (exaggeration) and I wanted to try things myself before going down that road again FOR MYSELF but by god get some help if you need it and there is no shame and if those methods had not worked I would be there right now. Today, telling Ms. Pill Doctor GIMME ALL THE PILLS.

After my head lifted a little, I took 3 weeks off this blog to gather myself and my brain and heart and pull it together.

In that time, I rented an office all my own, to give professional writing a fighting chance. I’m not teaching college in the fall. I’m writing a motherfucking screenplay. And revising my book.

And cleaning out that goddamn linen closet, as it needs. And writing to you.

So here I am.

Heyyyyyyyyyy. It’s good to be back.

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  • Mary

    I cannot even find the right words, Janelle. Just: I love you.

    • Angela

      I’ve been dealing with depression for years. Thank you for being brave enough to write this blog. It helps to know that I’m not the only person who feels this way.

    • Ally

      a) I love her too. b) I love her comment policy. c) hang in there, mamas! you are NOT alone!

    • Shauna

      Ohhh man. Your writing is like a breath of fresh air, or a life raft, or…something. I promised myself I would be better this time around with second baby. But here I am: self loathing, racing thoughts, mad at the baby for stealing my joy and my sleep and my body, mad at my husband for being so – husband-y, mad at myself for feeling this way AGAIN. Thanks for being so real. I’m sitting in the midst of total house chaos letting the baby nurse until he barfs and the toddler watch youtube kids so I can binge read all your posts.

  • Jennifer R.

    Glad you were able to avoid drowning completely!
    My latest baby (#3) is a few weeks behind Arlo, and I’ve been treading water the last 10.5 months as well. My husband is recently out of work, as the company he worked for closed down, so I am just waiting for the drowning to start! Good luck with the office – It will be nice to have space to yourself!!

  • Corelle

    I feel you, like for real feel you… I have been thru depression and came out of it, and it reared its ugly head for me recently.
    All I could think while reading this is how you probably don’t know, or are just to humble to fully admit, that you and your blog really help lots of people. (I’m not a writer so forgive my lack of creative adjectives). I like to read the comments after each post and there are always so many people that just agree wholeheartedly with what you have to say. So many can relate to you, and probably creepily want to be your bestie. My point is, maybe next time (hopefully there is not a next time) you get down maybe remember all the positive little bits you’ve given to so many of us random followers out here. You make a great impact on us 🙂 Glad you’re back and feeling better-ish! 🙂 Love, groupie from Memphis, TN

  • Lauran Benes

    Welcome back! Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sure a lot of moms can relate.

  • Sam

    Good on you, for putting it out there, good on you for not sugar coating it all. What you went through is so real and so much more common than so many realise. Although I am on the other side of the world, it helps to know that others experience these moments and go through the inability to get up out of bed and go on. Its also good to see how you pulled yourself through it! Look forward to your posts so glad your not giving up on your blog!

  • Nicole

    I am usually a silent reader of blogs and never comment because I can never write out what I actually think/feel in understandable English. I wanted to tell you that I find strength in your writing. In your decision to share with strangers the some of the hardest obstacles that a person may ever have to go through and being ok with showing that it isn’t perfect but it’s real and it is yours. I wanted to say I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this but then again, how do we find out who we really are if we are never tested to find out?

    Good luck with the writing. And the cleaning ?

  • Helen

    It’s good to have you back. So many profound words in this post. thankyou,

  • Sara

    i love your writing. Love the honesty. Really looking forward to reading your book.

  • Judy

    I missed you! Glad you’re back 🙂

  • Sara Howard

    Love

  • Nancy

    I have never read anything about depression/anxiety that so closely mirrored my own experience. This is so real–you have to fight your way out using anything and everything available. Hugs to you.

  • Nora

    thank you for sharing your raw stuff. It helps us identify ours and not be so alone. You got balls, lady! Xo

  • Jen from Less than a pineapple

    I love everything you write, but this one struck such a chord with me. What was the book your friend gave you? So pleased to see you back here writing x

  • Tiffany

    Must be that time of year. I am furiously treading water, trying to keep my head above water. Yes I have a counseling appointment. And I have been reaching out for my lifelines. Congrats on making it ashore. Maybe tomorrow I will make it too.

  • Leigh

    Welcome Home…..

  • Kirsten

    Sorry things sucked for awhile, really glad you’re back (and on your own terms…Congrats!) I’ve been in that dark hell too. Happiness is a choice, but once in awhile that ‘choice’ is grayed out, not a currently available option and someone (family, friends, doctor, strangers even) or something else must make that choice for us until we can see it is an option again. At least that’s how I look at it. And I too would second the commenter earlier – you’ve touched a lot of us and we hope that you could draw some strength from our (only slightly creepy) adoration in the comments of your posts. Lastly, if you run outta things to clean, I’m in sunny Florida and have a whole lot of closets needing attention.

  • Sam

    Yay! I love this! And you rented an OFFICE! That fucking rocks and I’m totally jealous and thrilled for you!
    And I totally get the hand on the boob thing… something about it just… I don’t know. But you do.

  • Phillipa

    perfect timing for this……thanks.

  • Maureen O'Leary Wanket

    You are my favorite.

  • jill (mrschaos)

    Here you are. It’s good to see you. Love you.

  • Jessie Reid

    This. this is important and honest and articulate and I am sorry you have been feeling shit but thank you for capturing it, dominating it and expressing it.

  • Natasha Batsford

    And it’s damn good to have you back lady.

  • Sara VB

    YES. To this post, all i can say is YES.

  • Sarah Ahmad

    Good to see you back. Missed reading your posts. Thanks for sharing your story and being so brutally honest.

  • Suzi

    As I always do when I see a new blog post from you in my inbox, I made myself a cuppa and sat down to read your words in anticipation, they always seem to shift something in me, sometimes challenging my beliefs and assumptions about topics. So here I am crying into my cup of tea, will spend the rest of my day trying to work out what the tears are for. Always appreciate your rawness and honesty Janelle, and the beautiful words you use to describe your world as it is at the moment.Thank you, and welcome back!

  • michelle

    Wading thru all the posts and retweets on FB tonight, I came across this – something that moved me to tears. My husband was diagnosed with cancer last year. With two babies, debilitating back pain and an uncertain future I too feel like I’m drowning sometimes. Wow. I wish we were, like neighbours or something. You are incredible. Thank you.

  • mecarol

    This came at exactly the right time. Thank you for reminding me.

  • Vanessa

    Wow. I can relate to almost all of the above (different life circumstances obviously) so much. I’m reading this after seeing my therapist today and making the decision (finally) to get back on an anti-depressant. I can’t do it on my own and I’m making everyone around me miserable. But all those things you said — I have felt all those things. I’m hoping the drugs will give me the strength/wherewithal to do the things you said — the linen closet, the exercise, etc. Anyway, thank you very much for sharing. I look forward to reading your book. Also agree that God does not care if you say “motherfucking.”

  • Brooke M

    Thank you for kicking my ass. I needed it.

  • misty

    welcome back, thanks for your honesty, it helps us other quiet people feel better…..

  • Katie

    You’re posts are always amazing. I very often mind myself referencing them and sharing them for your clear-cut insight into matters and your no-shit attitude.

    I’m currently pregnant with my second and fighting off the bleak darkness of antenatal depression that I am hoping doesn’t tick over into postnatal. Even in this you have reassured me that I’m not the only one feeling this tidal wave of doubts. When I was going through this therapy and that back when I was younger that was one running theme and one thing I always try and hold to when all else slips. Do one thing. Even if all you do it get out of bed and shower. Do that one thing.

    Momentum has a magic.

    I hope you are well and back to rolling with punches. If nothing else you have an incredibly beautiful family. Look at those smiles.

  • Emily

    I’ll buy your book.

  • Gaby

    I stumbled across your website just a month or two ago, and I don’t know you, but I just wanted to say I think you’re awesome. You are so relatable, authentic and honest, and I love that you’re out there showing other women they can be relatable, authentic and honest, too. And that we can have ALL the feelings. And life can get bad but it can get better. Thanks!

  • J. vaughn

    You are so brave, and real, and amazing. Thank you for having the courage to write your truth no matter how messy, how imperfectly perfect.

  • Mollyo

    Speechless and sobbing. Thanks for putting words to the pain and the lonely and the struggle.. If I knew where you lived I’d hop in my car and come hug you. ❤️

  • Sydney mum

    Welcome back, well done and thank you! From a mum on the other side of the world just wanted to say thanks for your honesty, I could relate to just about all of your experiences and reactions to those experiences. I certainly see no failings there – I see a very normal reaction to a highly stressful situation. And I think you expressed it all beautifully. Thank you again, you are doing an amazing job even when it doesn’t feel like it, in fact I think that’s when we work our hardest xx

  • Dana

    All of those things that you did- meditation, prayer, cleaning out closets, drinking more water, cutting back on sugar etc are exactly what I would do if I were trying to come out of a depression or even a “funk”. In fact, I do those things just to stay happy! Those things have a huge impact on my happiness. They all sound so simple but added together (especially the meditation, IMO!) can blaze a path to peace and wholeness like you dream about. I think as moms we can have several children and then treat ourselves as if it is ‘no big deal’. We should be so kind and nurturing to ourselves everyday because it IS a big deal. And 3 is way more than 1 or 2. And 4 is reason enough to not answer the door or phone ever or bake for the bake sale or any other thing that sucks away your energy bit by bit (random examples). And being a writer/creative person too REALLY means ruling out anything you can that interferes w/ self care and your family’s needs. End of rant- I’m passionate about a mom’s well being!

  • Shanna LaBarre

    Thank you. So very much. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone. Tried/trying the alternative regimen and it’s not working as well as I would like. So glad you doged.

  • Beck

    Phew. That is a lot to make it through. It is so weird how as soon as we get a breath of air again we think: hmmm not good enough. Dang I want to stop doing that, too! Thanks for sharing this. I’m going through some shit myself so this was very encouraging.

  • Eve

    Just found your blog. What a great read, I feel like you are writing about my life. I’m sure you get that a lot. That baby hand part…man♥

  • Karyn

    Lady, you are all kinds of powerful. Good on you, keep it up!

  • Betsy Peacock

    Thank you for sharing the darkest parts of motherhood and wife-dom that women don’t really like to talk about. I for one have a difficult time admitting that I’m not super mom, that I can’t manage a full time job and kids and a clean house. I often feel like a failure when I see other moms who have it ‘together’ and are shining examples of Susie home maker AND provider. I barely cook. I am lucky if I can keep our work/school clothes washed. Thanks for being you, because you are real and inspirational and a support to all women out there. Lots of positivity and good universe juice from me to you.

    • Jennifer

      Betsy, I don’t know if this will help or not, but I often feel like I’m failing at housework and childrearing, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. I think we as mothers hold ourselves up to such impossible standards because we’re doing an impossible job. Just the basics of taking care of kids is hard. Trying to teach them how to be productive members of society is even harder. And when we try to add in the extras, like showing them how to find joy and beauty anywhere they go, well, when we can’t find it ourselves it feels pretty impossible. And something I’ve learned, even the moms who look like they have it all together and have it all figured out have something they struggle with. We all do, because we’re human. So, solidarity, mama. We’re all in this together. You got this.

      • Claire

        What a sweet reply – made me cry.

  • Elaine A.

    Good for you. I love that you own it, all of it. And that you are stronger for it.

    Your new ventures are exciting and you should be so proud of yourself!

  • Dawn

    You rented an office!!….to write!!! ? You took off from teaching college!!!? You inspire me!….not that everything else you wrote about wasn’t awesome too…..

  • Kaysey

    You know what? Thanks.. Thanks for being real. Sometimes reality is good to read.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you. Just…thank you. For this post and for all of them. Just so you know that your words have power and influence, so that you know that you are doing important things (even beyond that most important thing of mothering your children): In part because you write here, I’ve started writing again. Nothing good. But someday it will be. So, again, thank you.

  • mel

    I haven’t even read the article yet but you’re back you’re fucking back! This blog helps – not as bored and alone when reading it.x

  • Cassey

    Thanks for sharing this, it came at just the right time for me.

  • PhysicsBear

    Good to have you back. And what an amazing, moving, awesomely-written description of the slide down and your climb back. All too familiar. I’ve been feeling the same sense of heading back into the pit that I recall from post natal depression, of wondering what the point is, of being tired of the endless, relentless monotony of running a home and raising a child (and I have one kid and a husband at home! Not that it’s a competition, but I am in total awe that you manage to even feed and dress four of them!)

    I’m glad you found a way. Keep on keeping on,

  • Despina

    Good for you!!!! and thanx for sharing….
    If it’s any consollation, the past winter and subsequent spring have been quite similar, emotionally, for me with totally different problems coming from a totally different part of the world (greece). It just goes to show that melt downs are not uncommon when dealing with families and change (kinda go hand in hand those 2).
    However, sharing, especially the way you do, can be quite therapeutic and helps put matters into perspective.
    Thanx again for sharing!
    P.S.: I find that herbal tea made from valerian and lime leaves helps with the tension, as well as Dr.Bach’s Rescue Remedy if you can get it

  • Heidi Schulenberg

    Heeyyyyyyy! Welcome back. Your trip resonated with some of what I’ve felt in the past few months. Thanks for the eye opener, and the vulnerability of your journey. I look forward to reading what’s next!

  • Heidi

    I think there is real, chemical-imbalance depression, and then there’s the stuff we absolutely create by our chosen thoughts. I’ve experienced a lifetime of victimhood and focusing in lack so much that it’s all I saw. Happy for you!

  • Bethany

    NO NOPE NOPITY NOPE. Been somewhere near there too. Thank you for saying it out loud on the interwebs. I wrote two screenplays back in the days before this. What strength you’ve shown in taking back some control and not feeling like a victim of your life. Makes me want to do the same.

  • Kristina

    Love you, and Thanks. ?

  • Julie

    thank you.

  • Stef

    I made it 5 years 4 months and a handful of days. Thank you for showing me that my thoughts and feelings are not alone. God bless you!

  • Jennifer L.

    You got this.

  • Monica F

    Thank you so much for putting these past weeks into words for us. Such a brilliant reminder and lesson. I’ve been struggling along in the same rut (or on the same wild ride) for the past couple of years–basically since having my daughter. And I have to agree that organizing something, bringing a little calm to the daily choas, is the best way to remember that you are in control . Which oddly enough is the one thing that I remember my midwife saying to me while I pushed my daughter out, the one thing that struck me, a midwife myself who has said a zillion motivation instructions to women in labor. I was on a runaway train and she said, YOU ARE IN CONTROL. And you’ve reminded me of that today, and I thank you. (Also again, congratulations woman on your very own office. Own that space and write beautiful things. I will be here on my stool at my hopefully clean kitchen island writing alongside you.)

  • Julianne

    so glad you’re back! wow, do I know all of these feelings, and places, and dark rabbit holes. i SEE you, and i too have been there, and go there again from time to time. and it’s so hard to figure out how i’m going to get myself out when i’m there. and then we do somehow! and you did it! I’m so sorry for all the hard shit you’ve been through. and it’s so wonderful that you’ve accessed the strength and love of all of the world around you and within yourself to make it back home. Brava!!

  • Katie in MA

    A friend shared the link to this post and I clicked through on a whim and…wow. I haven’t been THERE-there, but I’ve been in the vicinity of there, and I just wanted to say how amazing you are and thank you for sharing your story. It was the words of someone with a story to tell who helped save me when I was in the Vicinity of There. It takes a village to keep us all in one piece.

    Hang in there.

  • Courtney

    Welcome back! Your strength gives others strength and in talking about your struggles and wins helps us all become better parents and better people. Thank you.

  • Renee

    I’m not alone, huh? That’s comforting in a bizarre, misery loves company sort of way. Here’s to clawing out, in whatever way we can.

  • Constance

    Oh honey! I am eternally grateful for this post. I’ve been stuck in the mire since November. I’m trying and trying to dig out. Slowing coming around. My husband planted me some beautiful flowers and put up a birdfeeder and watching the flowers and the birds and hearing them every morning has helped more than anything.

    Your words and your experience have shown it to me in a new light.

    Would you mind sharing the title of the book you referenced – “A friend sent me a book that reminded me of what I had always known, but somehow forgot: The events of my life are neutral. The events of my life do not have an emotional charge in themselves. My emotional state is the result of a three-fold process:

    First, the event. Then, my thoughts about that event; and finally: The emotions caused by my thoughts.”

    This makes so much sense. The event is not always the problem, my thoughts and emotions make it more than it is.

    God bless you girl.

  • Jamie

    Glad you’re back. Life, for me at least, always seems to get caught in those ebbs and flows of shit and happiness. Like someone, somewhere says “Yea, that’s enough smiles and sunshine, let’s hit them with everything hard and negative at once for awhile.. .see how they do”. And we do it. And then the sun comes back out and it makes it feel all that much warm and bright, right? You’re totally not alone – thanks for sharing.

  • Cheryl S.

    Welcome back. It’s wonderful that you were able to recognize where you were going and drag yourself back before you got too deep. I laughed at “give me all the pills” because I’m someone who needs them. But, it took me a long time to be OK with that.

    I hope that whoever was injured/attacked is getting better and can be healed from whatever scars were left (physical or otherwise).

  • Kathryn

    you are a beautiful person! xo

  • Kari

    Damn glad to see ya!

  • Peggy Miller

    Glad you’re back. You are strong and brave.

  • Stacey

    So glad you are here and writing. Loved seeing your new post. I had wondered where you had been!

  • Milena Brandão

    You’re such an exceptional writer. I can see you being really really successful at your screenplay, book or whatever you decide to put words into. All the best for you!

  • Renee

    Missed you! So very glad that you are back! Keep fighting your way through this thing. You can do it – you are one of the strongest people that I know. We all have it; some just worse than others. Keep yourself busy; writing, cleaning, playing, eating (and don’t worry about that – you are beautiful no matter what you look like) and being a good friend. A friend who tells it like it is; doesn’t sugarcoat anything, just puts it out there. We all need someone like that. You are our someone and we are all damn happy that you are!!!!

  • Mimi

    Thank you Jesus somebody is living what I have been living. I thank you for being honest and real so that I dont feel alone in this. Thank you for telling your story to other women and mothers who need to know that they arent alone.

  • Jenn

    I feel all of this so hard. I’m in a somewhat similar place in my life right now and I just started writing a little bit after not writing for a long ass time. It feels weird even trying. Writing about depression is particularly difficult because it almost forces you to explain it and justify it, when explaining it and justifying it are the very things you’ve been struggling with internally the whole damn time. “I’m sorry I know I’m stupid because my life is great and I have no right to be sad…” Am I convincing myself or convincing whoever is reading this? Like depressive entropy. Or something. I don’t even know what I’m saying.

    It gets better. Then worse. Then medium. The point is, it keeps going. I love reading about your journey and I’m glad that you’re back.

    Hugs

  • Marie

    Welcome back. Real post. As usual. ❤️

  • Momtothree

    Glad to see you back in business, my ether friend!
    You are the squaw-chief of this virtual village. Through your honesty, there is introspection, identification, understanding and healing.
    (You may not even realize how powerful your words are.)
    Everything happens for a reason. Please don’t ever feel that your voice is not worth anything, you are important to so many people here.
    Be gentle with yourself …

  • Isabel

    You don’t know how much I needed to read this. There are times when everything is fine. Nothing is really wrong, except my mind. I will let things get to me. I will blow things out of proportion. I will regret my children and the actions I have taken to get me to the where I am in life. Reading this makes me feel less alone. It makes me realize that I can do something to change what is making me feel shitty and if it doesn’t work there is always something else I can try, but no matter what I need to keep trying. Life has so much potential if we can just let some shit go and live it. 🙂

  • Maria

    Thank you for sharing…. I could identify completely with everything you have so eloquently written.

    When I saw the photo of little Arlo and that beautiful, angelic, chubby hand I cried… a cry of understanding, a cry of missing, a cry of envy… even before I had read how it had been a changing moment for you, I knew exactly what you were going to say. How I miss those breastfeeding days. My special alone time with my babies. My 3rd is now 3 and I no longer breastfeed (haven’t for a couple of years)and that hand, oh that beautiful little chubby, angelic hand on my breast while she fed from my body was my little bit of peaceful heaven on earth whilst chaos ruled my home and my family. The weight lifted from my sore, tight shoulders and I was floating. I survived, just, but putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. And crying, oh the crying.

    Survival… My bestfriend has just had her first beautiful baby after many years of trying and IVF and now at the tender age of 45 they hold their beautiful miracle baby. As she was telling me, and a little embarrassingly, that she is co-sleeping with her 2 month old just to get him to sleep, and the people telling her it is the wrong thing to do and creating bad habits… I found myself telling her that the first few months are just about survival – you and your beautiful baby… just do what you need to do to survive… whatever it takes.

    I find I am still doing what I need to survive. This weekend I am spending two nights away from my three girls & husband…. alone on a yoga retreat…. fuck the yoga at 7.30am or at 8pm, fuck the one hour of free time in the whole weekend. I just want me, just me, alone, for the first time in 8 years, quiet and alone, meditating, crocheting, sitting on a bench in the winter sun… that is my medication. That is my rejuvenation.

    Sending you much love… and thanks for letting me rant….and most importantly, welcome back!

  • Monica Taft

    Thank you so much for writing. You have so much courage, courage that I am still looking for, one day I will write more than one blog post, and because you told me to write anyway.

    Bless you, keep the faith. Know that you touch so many.

  • sarah

    I am moved by your words. Some days I have felt so down taking care of two little ones and have felt darkness fall over me. Thank you for sharing as always.

  • Amber

    Your entry reminded me of something I have bookmarked from one of my all-time favourite authors – Kate DiCamillo.

    April 2009
    Cape Canaveral National Seashore, early April and I am standing in the Eldora Statehouse. I am with my best friend Tracey and her daughter, Roxanne.
    We are staring at a tombstone.
    One word, DOLLY, is engraved in its worn surface.

    “Who’s that for?” says Roxanne.

    “A donkey,” I say, reading the note that is mounted beside the tombstone.
    “Good grief,” says Roxanne.
    The tombstone stood in the spot where the donkey’s heart stopped, exactly where she dropped dead, still wearing her harness.
    “They put it where she fell,” I say to Roxanne. “It says they loved her. She was a beloved member of the community.”
    “Uh huh,” says Roxanne.
    She turns away, bored.
    She is fourteen years old and she cannot imagine, yet, falling, failing. She cannot imagine anything stopping, ever.
    Later, Tracey and I are on the beach, at the water’s edge. The sky is the color of pewter. I think about the donkey and her gravestone and I remember my mother in the hospital before she died, the nurses doing something to her that hurt.
    “Would it help if you held on to me?” I asked. When I gave her my hand she held onto me so tight; and I think, now, you could put a marker there, in that hospital room, because surely I fell there, my heart undone by that small thing, the way my mother held onto me.
    “Look,” says Tracey. She grabs my arm and points. “Dolphins.”
    The dolphins leap out of the water, turn away from us, come back, leave again. They are so beautiful, that I have to bend over.
    Here, I think.
    You could put a marker here, too. I was undone here. My heart stopped here.
    How many places have I fallen?
    How many times have I been undone?
    All I have to use as markers are these words.

    I will put them here.
    I will make them say:
    I loved.
    I was loved.

  • Jill

    Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you’re back. I’ve got nothing but cyber hugs and emoji hearts for ya. ??

  • Alex

    This really spoke to me in a way that I needed to hear. Thank you for sharing your journey. It is so hard to see the bigger picture sometimes. I would love to know what book your friend sent you. I need more inspiration on my travels to get out of wallow-ville.

  • Carolyn

    Life is weird , sometimes having the worse things happen make you realize it can’t get any worse ! Had cancer – thought that was bad ! Had kidney stones – pretty painful ! This summer had my freakin thyroid crush my windpipe – co2 poisoning -could not walk , couldn’t talk ! When I finally woke up from coma – realized there were people in my life that waited for me ! I can smile again as I try to walk – had a few months where I couldn’t talk again ! I can use the right finger to express how I feel ! And I know I am glad I am still here ! Love those babies- but love yourself too ! Love your writing – glad you’re back !

  • Miranda

    Keep on keepin’ on, sister. You are not alone. Thanks for being so brave and honest, as always!

  • Angel

    The words that you write bring vivid images to my mind and move me to tears. Thank you. For being you. For being real. For being honest in a world where these things are so hard to find. You’re not alone. You’re doing a hell of a job. None of this shit is easy. You’re further ahead than you think.

    Love

  • Lulu

    Janelle – I read your post last night and struggled to come up with an appropriate comment.
    This morning I woke up and I had it:

    You shine a light in the dark. So that others can find their own way, to let them know there IS a way and sometimes that way is just being real with what is, you keep com ing back to beam your brilliant light. You are like a damn twinkle star.

    • Jennifer

      So much yes. If you don’t mind, I might have to start using “damn twinkle star” in my daily life. Seriously, do think this is such an accurate description of Janelle in this post and in so, so many others.

  • Peggy

    <3

  • karen

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  • Linda

    You always seem to write exactly what I need to hear. My husbands hours are being cut, I am worried about how we are going to pay our bills. I am not the biggest fan of my job I want to stay home with the kids but need the money especially now. I feel like I have hit my limit of shit I can take right now. You do feel alone when that happens. So thank you. For sharing your story, and struggles. I know you aren’t looking for sympathy but I’m sorry for your husband and baby for what you all went through.

  • Jill

    YOU GO GIRL!!!!

  • Rachel @ The Mama Files

    So glad you’re back, and that you’re feeling better. We missed you. xo

  • LINDA BREAULT

    I have been on meds since 2001….Just got diagnosed with post pardum at 41…I take my meds every day and I have gone through a few and I have finally found the correct mixture of them! I take two and finally I smile when I wake up! I felt the same way you did…It is the worst feeling in the world! I am glad that you are better because I love reading your blog…Everything about it is real! Like my co-worker says about me – Breault – There’s no faking you!!! I am real! and if No-one likes that i am on medication because it is helping me then FUCK EM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE YOU!!!

  • Sara

    I know that feeling. It’s total bs and I’m so glad you shared this torture and triumph. I read your post at work and was totally fighting back tears- it’s so familiar and so close always but thankfully, not close enough. Thanks man-
    sara

  • Melissa

    I’m so happy you are back! I am right on the verge right now and needed to hear every single word you just wrote. Thank you, thank you every time!

  • Betzi

    Holy shit, Janelle. I just met you. And I love you. And thank you.

  • marjorie

    You fucking rock Janelle… thank you for your honesty. It’s a breath of fresh air on the internets. Question for you: Can you please share the name of the book your friend gave you to remind you that the events of your life are neutral? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to that passage in this post… words I need to hear obviously. Your summation is pretty damn satisfying but I was just curious what the book might be. Thanks!

    • renegademama

      Thank you! And the book is “The Mindful Way Through Depression” by by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal & Jon Kabat-Zinn. Very well done and I hate self-help books. 🙂

      • Bea

        Oh man thank you Janelle. Your posts have a way of working their way into my mind and restoring my sanity. I am one of many who need to ward off that black dog so whatever works, works.

  • Leila

    Totally random side note: I freakin LOVE that picture of Georgia ‘n you. She is such an awesome lil badass rockstar.

  • Jami

    Thank you for your truthfulness and for expressing these moments so clearly. I think it’s hard for anybody to capture the constraints we feel with depression because it just sucks you dry of everything. You are so spot-on and your use of the word fuck is so appropriate, it’s not even vulgar. I agree that God or whatever being has created us sure as hell doesn’t care what words we use to express ourselves.

  • courtney

    Thank you for writing this. It sounds like I wrote it. Except it’s too well-written for it to be written by me. Ha. I’ve tried eliminating sugar, doing the vitamins, lots of meds, cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture for anxiety, exercise, and meditation/progressive relaxation to help with sleep at night. Over the years, I notice that I know myself well enough now to know that I need to really work sometimes to fend off the depression. I think I’ve gotten better at it now that I know the signs. I guess that’s one of the awesome parts about being “older” and staring at your wrinkled, gray-haired self in the mirror. The woman staring back at you has been to the rodeo before and knows a thing or two about pulling herself out of it. My son is Arlo’s age. I found your blog when I was about to give birth to him almost a year ago. I read Arlo’s birth story about your husband catching him and cried like a baby. This year has been really hard. I often hate my life (for different reasons), but I also have moments like the one you described while you were nursing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, even if it is a crazy roller coaster. Anyway, thank you for sharing pieces of yourself here.

  • Cassandra

    Thank you for not being afraid to talk about depression. Hopefully we can get better at this as a society and some of the stigma can go away. About a month ago I found myself headed downhill as we came up on the 4th “anniversary” of my dad’s death. He was an alcoholic and eventually, at 58 years old, his body had enough. When I found your blog I was fascinated, in a way, to find that there can be life after alcoholism. I admire you in so many ways – for fighting the good fight, both as an alcoholic and a mother – and for not being afraid to admit that it’s a struggle and that we make mistakes. Anyhow – during the last month I was at the point where I had even texted my husband at work telling him that we needed a divorce (because I had to take two consecutive days off of work to be home with vomiting kids) because – well, honestly – because that’s the way it worked out. But in my mind it was the eternal struggle that’s always going on of wife/mother vs. productive working member of society – and “the man” keeps holding me down because I’m a woman! And why does society have all of these double standards and ….. At the time I didn’t relate the two – and it all sounded very logical in my head, but once you start down that path you tend to lose a little of your grasp on reality. I’m just grateful to be on the other side (for now) and for people like you.

  • Alycia

    Welcome back, my dear! Welcome back. There is nothing more empowering than taking charge of your shit and making it better. I love your writing so much and I’m happy to see your smiling face back on here.

  • Katrina

    So glad you, and this blog exists. I think your book is going to be a bestseller.

  • Kayla

    You are amazing for all that you share with us but especially this story. I was brought to tears while reading it. Because I feel like I know your family (kind of creepy, I know). But mostly because I have battled cripling depression and now my husband is going through it in a horrible way. It’s an awful illness that changes the way you see the world and your life. I am SO happy that you were able to come out of it and blessed to have read your story. Keep on keepin on Momma!

  • Carolina

    Omega 3 is a godsend and has helped me feel so much less tired after Colin’s birth.

  • Carolina

    BTW, this article reminded me of your post and vice versa: http://goop.com/postnatal-depletion-even-10-years-later/

  • ceciel

    I’ve been waiting for you to be back and now you are and damn, I appreciate you. Just in the nick of time. School’s out for summer and it’s nothing like Alice Cooper and when I was in high school. It’s so so hard having a 6 year old, a 3 year old and my baby 6 month old together with me all. day. long. And I feel guilt about feeling that it’s hard. Summer’s supposed to be water and Popsicles and sun and lounging and oh wait, nothing with 3 kids is easy. But thank God for you. I’m not over my own current bout of depression yet but I will be…thank you for giving me hope and strength and reminding me I’m not the only one.

  • Kristine

    Thank you and I love you. That is all.

  • Meme

    I found your blog Janelle just recently when I googled “Are all nine-year old girls really annoying?” in sheer desperation (HELP ME GOOGLE PLEASE!)

    What appeared up top was your (now quite old) post about Ava when she was 9.
    https://www.renegademothering.com/2011/03/07/my-9-year-old-has-lost-her-mind/
    This was seriously one of the most encouraging, insightful and hilariously inspiring pieces of parenting observation I have ever read. Especially in the very noisy storm that the interweb can sometimes be. And your thoughts totally transformed the way I was looking at my relationship with my (extremely annoying!!) 9 year-old daughter (who I love so much it kills me!)

    Since then, I have sat up late (well after my three girls are in bed) reading many of your posts. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I felt disappointed by those few who have misinterpreted your raw, gut honesty and called it something else. Your writing is a gift to the world and I am so glad that you continue to share, even from these most vulnerable places.

    You are brave.

    And I am grateful.

  • Emily

    Hugs, all the hugs. I don’t know if that’s me giving them or demanding them, but you know, whatever. I’ve been trying to hold on but I’ve been floundering lately–the pills make a huge difference, but in some ways, the mists they clear up just leave behind some things in stark relief, and those are still big problems. I don’t know if I can do it. I feel like, now that I’ve got the pills and I have some happy days, the bad days are more my fault even than they were before. I feel like I’m about to lose my grip any moment and I don’t know what’s going to happen to my family. I’ll try to keep taking it one day at a time (or less).

    • marjorie

      Oh Emily, that sounds like a dark place to be in right now. But remember two things: depression lies, and it’s not your “fault”! I’m glad the pills are helping but is there a way to get more support in addition to them? Above all, know this will pass and love yourself through it. The answer is always love and self love is the freakin’ hardest thing of all. Take good care, you are not alone.

      • Emily

        I’m doing a little better today, and I did talk to a friend yesterday who’s gone through some very similar stuff, so that was very rectifying. Then I sat on the couch and cried on my husband for a while, and he was really great. I think I do need to go back to my psychiatrist for a meds adjustment, and I’m working on making some changes. Something came up today that could be a bright point, and I’m really hoping that works out to at least take away some of the biggest stress. Thank you so much for your kind words. I think I’m ready to face it again. :.)

        • marjore

          Glad to hear it Emily! I know, for me, that when I sit with it on my own it’s much worse. Just getting it out in the open, even with my husband, is so scary but I almost always feel better afterwards. Bright points, just like low points, come and go. YOU are the only thing you can truly count on so be sure to be kind to yourself always. (not easy I know!!) Baby steps, and it sounds like you are on a good path, and remember to love yourself through it! You are worth it!

  • Mommy of 3 have you seen my brain?!?!?

    You are amazing, I will keep following you because its like we share the same experiences from life. I have three kids all 2 years apart from each other and my oldest was born when i was just 20yrs old. I have severe anxiety and depression and am going through all that you have written here, it is so great to know that I can pull through if I put my mind to it and get the support behind me from those who love me. I know its there but acknowledging it is the next step! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

  • Virginia

    Love your writing janelle don’t stop , I hear you loud and clear . No one understands unless they have been there . No there is no cure just survival and you are a surviver . You are beautiful lady and you have a beautiful family .

  • Sue

    I’ve been in a grey place lately and your post just gave a little light. The realness, the rawess, the motherfuking truth to it all was what I needed. I read it twice and now I am going to go home to my husband, kids, chaos and take one step at a time. Heck, tomorrow might be the day I skip work. Mental health day…

  • Tina

    I’ve read this blog and off, and it always resonated, kind of like finding a friend in a room full of strangers.

    But this post makes me officially LOVE you forever and need to read more. Thank you for your motherfuckng honesty.

  • Rach

    Thank you for your honesty. Youy are a BRILLIANT writer. So authentic, so generous, so sharp and canny. I have come actross your blog before but I now too want to read more and more. Amongst so much inauthenticity out there, you are a beacon.