The Harder Battle

For my 28th birthday I got a tattoo. On the inside of my arm is a quote from Plato: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." It is these words that I am trying to find solace in as I embark on a new phase in my life.

In February I will be quiting my job. The decision to do so was one of the hardest I have ever made. I am working at the best center I have ever worked at. My coworkers are amazing, dedicated, supportive educators. My kids make me laugh and smile daily. Leaving isn't about them, or my job. Its about me, and it makes it just that much harder.

The reality is that I am struggling, and have been for a long time. I had post-partum depression with Luca, not surprising since I already have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. And I figured I would with Astrid. What I wasn't expecting was the severity of it, the loneliness, the pain. Many of my days were spent feeling like I was drowning, struggling to breath. Now I pride myself on not letting my personal life interfere with my work, and I worked hard to maintain a facade of normalcy. In fact, one of my co-workers remarked one day as I picked up Astrid, "Astrid, your mommy's never in a bad mood". So apparently it worked. But it only made my depression worse, more isolating. I had no one I could talk to, and keeping up appearances was both physically and mentally exhausting.

On my days at home I felt like a walking ghost. I was paralyzed. I hardly talked, I wasn't interested in anything, overwhelmed by everything. And there was fear, and guilt. Everything was wrong, everything was my fault. Luca was acting up, it had to be because of me. Astrid wouldn't eat or sleep, it was because I was doing something wrong. Chris was upset, it was something I had done. Hopeless and Endless and Painful. A constant, dull, nagging pain I just couldn't shake.

Finally, after my mom had left with Luca to spend winter break together, I broke down to Chris. I couldn't keep doing this. It had to end. It was me or the depression, the two couldn't exist together anymore. I wanted the pain to stop.

But I didn't see an easy way out. I was struggling, I knew that. Life, with ten hour work days, two kids, and all the daily hassles that life throws in, was too much for me (although just admitting that to myself was the first battle). But there wasn't anything to do about it. Except give up something. And, unwilling to give up on family or life, work was the only thing left.

I can't help but feel like something of a failure. The darker part of my brain keeps saying, "But look, everyone else has it together. You see parents every day who can handle work, kids, and family etc. Why can't you?" But the choice I find myself faced with is that I can either continue to "power through", tell myself I can do it, that someday it will get better, or I can admit that this is where I am at and do my best to get better. I don't know what better looks like right now, or how to get there, but I can't keep going on the way I have. I have to try something else, for Chris, for Luca and Astrid, for me.

I'm scared as hell. I've never done anything like this. To quit, walk away from something isn't who I am. Stubborn as I am, I don't just give up. But I hope that, in the end, giving up isn't what I'm doing. I hope its recovering.


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