It won't let in dark and it won't let in sad and if now and then I feel hollow, the sorrow is flipped upside down with flowers and a photo of a child in a tree.
There's a reason, you see.
A liftetime ago, a year ago and yesterday, I suffered from depression. I had the Real Deal, the kind where you have to see doctors, get pills, talk to counsellors, and remind yourself to keep alive. I probably had it from adolescence, this illness, but it came and swallowed me after I had my son ten years ago. I could not sleep for worry; I could barely think sideways let alone straight. I had to scrabble my way out of the darkest hole—time and time again I thought it might claim me.
It took years to find my way out.
Each year is easier, smoother. And since I started homeschooling I feel joy so often because I am finally following my heart. I am with loving, laughing children every day and I get to find my true Mother self. I am lucky. I am blessed.
But I don't get complacent. Sometimes I think I'm only ever just one step out, trying not to look back.
People are amazed to hear I have had depression. That sometimes I still have tough days or weeks. They say, But you're so happy! So relaxed, so calm. It is curious, I know. I don't get it sometimes, either.
I absolutely couldn't understand it when I first faced it, ten years ago. I couldn't figure out how I could have so much, so many gifts—a loving husband, beautiful child, my health, a roof over my head—and still be swallowed by sadness. It took me a long time to understand, that this is how an illness works. It comes and tries to claim you. All you can do, is gather what you can to fight it.
I gather sunshine. I gather joy.
I gather photographs and laughter.
I gather my children about me.
I gather my dreams and the things that are truest.
I gather good, strong words.
I gather lovely friends, loving family.
I gather care.
I gather bushwalks, the sweeping ocean, great gobs of beauty.
I gather small, sweet moments.
I gather kindness. Respect. Patience.
I gather love.
Sad comes, you can't always avoid it. I let it in just enough so it won't bang the door down later. But I don't let it stay. I won't give it room to take hold.
Sometimes sad wants to stick—mess with me, my children. I grit my teeth and I shove it out.
And I go back to gathering joy.