This post is going to be a two-parter. I’m afraid I’d lose all of you if I try to explain this all in one day.
For several months, I have attributed my depression entirely to the unpleasantness (to put it mildly) of Husband’s current call. Now I suspect I was wandering toward a cliff and this church thing pushed me over the edge. Now I’m trying to draw a narrative map of how I got to the house of depression.
Before we moved here, we lived in a small community, where we’d been for several years. We moved there before we had children, and had a well-developed social support system. By the time we were raising three very young children, I had many resources to help me. I had several friends who were also parenting multiple young children, and we could get together and share the load for a while. We were blessed to have dear friends who happily took over from time to time. My relationships in our congregation were considerably more substantial than they are here. When parishioners saw me, most of them had some thought other than “There goes the pastor’s wife with all those kids.” Although I was at home full-time with my kids, my identity did not seem entirely wrapped into theirs.
Then we moved. Moving adds a few bricks to the pile. I was ready for it. Like all families of seminary graduates, we did our fair share of moving and knew to expect a long stretch of adjustment and loneliness. We had not, however, moved with small children. That’s considerably more complicated. I did not figure out how to make friends, how to ask for the help I needed, how to feel connected in a new congregation when I was always chasing little runners. The load was heavier, and I didn’t share it much with anyone but my sweet husband.
Then the situation at church overwhelmed Husband. He couldn’t do much to support me and I added tremendous anxiety about his health and well-being, and vast amounts of energy trying to rescue him. (Misguided efforts, but I made them.)
I have struggled with the feeling that parenting did me in. I do not want to believe that I am not able to parent my children without becoming depressed. But now I’m beginning to think that parenting in a supportive community was about as much stress as I could live with over the long-term, and the additional stresses and reduced supports that accompanied our move were too much.
Now I’m trying to see how to map the near future. The atmosphere of my life is much improved, but the grinding monotony of waking up to my children—and not much else—every day is not working out well for me.