Posted by: Karen (Betty Bear) | September 5, 2014

What the hell . . .

What the hell is wrong with me that I feel this way? I know that’s not the right question or comment to be making to myself, but it does seem to keep coming out.

I’m depressed.

I don’t know if there is a clinical scale for depression, you know, like from mild sadness to darkness so bad if you could only move you’d kill yourself just so the suffering would stop, but if there is I’m somewhere between mild and medium. Bad enough that all I feel like doing is lie on the sofa reading fantasy, binge-watching netflix and aimlessly clicking around the internet. And sleep. Although once in bed, sleep is proving to be a bit elusive. Not nearly bad enough that a suicide watch need be kept on me.

The triggering event was my daughter leaving for college. Yes, I do still have the boy child for another four years so I’m not really an empty-nester, but dang, I do miss that girl! She and I laugh at the same stupid things, different things than those that the male people in my house do. We can admire each others’ toe nail polish, borrow scarves and jewelry, talk about relationships and emotions, snicker at the same videos, wax wroth at the same sexism exhibited in society, all kinds of stuff. While we can talk on the phone, text, etc. it’s just not the same. And besides, she needs to be out there separating, becoming an adult, growing up and finding a life out there in the world that isn’t based in this house. So that’s hard.

Then there is the understanding that my primary job, the one I’ve had for 18 years, is coming to an end. My pink slip is waving on the horizon. And while that is happening, the things I have been doing outside of motherhood have lost their interest and savor for me. That, by the way, is not from the depression, it’s from outside crap happening to them. So I’m feeling at somewhat of a loss. What do I do now? I don’t know. What do I want to do? I’m not really sure.

So that’s the trigger but the depression is more than just sadness. And it sucks. And I keep thinking, what the hell? My kids are happy and healthy and on their way to becoming responsible, caring adults; the rest of my family is doing fine; we have enough money; my life is really pretty damn good, so what the hell do I have to complain about? And that, obviously, doesn’t help.

I do know that eventually this will pass, but I gotta say, I really deeply truly don’t like living here.



  1. Yes, the rest of your family is doing fine, but YOU are not. Your daughter leaving, though it’s fantastic and necessary that she’s growing and you’re happy for her, is an enormous loss for you. Yes, you can talk on the phone, but that’s not the same as having her under the same roof and being an active part of her life. You get to feel that. If you don’t now, it will come back and bite you in the butt later.

    I hate the whole empty nest thing because it makes it sound like only the last child leaving the nest is important. I’m sure that is a huge impact, but in a different way. That’s about the loss of a job rather than the relationship with that particular child. Your love for your daughter doesn’t diminish your love for your son anymore than having your son still at home diminishes your longing to have your relationship with your daughter back the way it was.

    And I think maybe it’s harder between kids leaving the nest, when there are still kids at home, because you’re just supposed to go on as if nothing has changed. But everything has changed.

    Don’t beat yourself up for mourning the loss (change in) a relationship that is one of the most important in your life. I know it hurts, but give yourself time to mourn. Stop trying to just get up off the mat and just stay down for a bit and let your heart rest and heal.

    And, as if your child leaving home weren’t enough, you’re being hit with angst about what to do with the rest of your life at the same time. Dude, either of those on their own would flatten most people for a good while. And it’s only the first week of September. Has it been a full month since she left?

    As you’ve told me many times, treat yourself like you would a dear friend. If all you want to do is read fantasy novels and watch Netflix, then do just that. Nothing in the world wrong with it and you’re not hurting anyone by doing it. Do something about the sleep, though, because sleep deprivation will only make things worse.

    If you’re not currently in therapy, I’d suggest it because you need an outlet for the pain. Someone to talk to about it, even the stuff that you feel guilty for thinking or feeling, who doesn’t have a stake in your life. Someone who is getting paid to listen to you. Not because your friends wouldn’t want to listen, I know for a fact the Betties would, but so that you don’t feel guilty or selfish or even self-conscious about unloading it all.

    You’re daughter will grow and flourish and you’ll be so proud of her and the two of you will build a wonderfully close adult relationship. But you’re just at the beginning of that. Right now you need to mourn the relationship you’ve lost in whatever way suits you for as long as you need to. Whatever way that is and however long it takes is just what it takes and nobody gets to judge you for that, not even you.

    As for the pink slip coming, you’ve got four years to look around, try new things, and explore. Dabble and find something that makes you happy.

    I keep thinking of that part of the Sunscreen Song (from a column by Mary Schmich) that goes:

    “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”

    Find your passion. And if it takes longer than four years to find it, so what?

    But don’t push yourself to do anything until you’ve allowed yourself enough time to mourn your old life. Endings are hard and scary, but so are beginnings, so don’t try to tackle both at once.

    Big hugs.

    • Thank you, Michelle. Hearing permission to mourn makes it easier to do so.

  2. These are some pretty big changes, and change is hard. It’s okay to be rocked for a while. If you need someone to cheer you up, you are always welcome to come visit me! *hugs*

  3. My .02 is it’s GRIEF. You’ve had to say goodbye to the little girl who needed you so much growing up and still needs you but differently, that word “differently” cuts horribly, doesn’t it? Her daily presence, her interest in your opinion, your interest in her thoughts…it’s been taken away from you. So, grief.

    Keep texting, live text a tv show you both enjoy, try to keep that up. Otherwise, wallow. If there was ever a time to let yourself acknowledge a passage and grieve, this is it, baby. Not that I’m saying you don’t need possible medical intervention because, hello, Lexapro is keeping me alive in a very real way at this point.

    Assvice (from a woman who cried over her child climbing the driveway without holding my hand this morning, btw) is find some way you’re needed. Volunteer at the library or school, read to someone at the nursing home. Make yourself fake an interest for say two hours a week. Then wallow some more and plan for her first visit home like it’s the queen’s coronation.

    Hugs and love and more hugs.

    • Gonna email you and if I don’t in a few days, text me and remind me, please? And thank you.

  4. I could have written most of this post. wish we were closer so we could talk more. {{{hugs}}} will email soon.

  5. Fuck. I just wrote you a huge reply, and it vanished. My entire day has been like this. It began with a gorgeous, time-intensive fruit salad falling straight on to the floor. Then my bike broke. Pool music iPod went dead. And the place I was supposed to get dinner has closed down. I could go on, there’s more. But I won’t.

    Just know that I’m sending love. I have been where you are. It’s probably more painful than almost anything. (Well, except for actual death.)

    Michelle is right. Find a counselor or therapist who clicks nicely with you.

    You have every right to all of these feelings. So, ya know, feel them.

    I’m gonna go eat cake.

    (who hopes her series of unfortunate events is now over with)

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