Will Depression Be My Legacy?



I’m raking leaves into great, giant piles, while two tiny boys threaten to undo my toils by cannon balling into them, shrieking wildly. The middle of my back aches as I fill a third bag with a swirl of burnt orange and tawny yellow foliage. There’s so much of it. Even the spaces I’ve raked are still littered with leaves.

I don’t remember it being this bad last year, I think, as I attack yet another corner of the yard. Why don’t I remember?



Last year I was still depressed. Post-partum depression ruled my foggy existence, and my hormones clicked into place each month like some sort of twisted Rubik’s cube. When they aligned, down I went. Down into an abyss of fear and terror and a complete unknowing of whose body I was suddenly inhabiting.

And now, one year later, it’s gone. I wish I could tell you why. I wish I could give you the exact prayer, the perfect book, the precise medication that made it all go away. But I can’t. Because, in all honesty, when I was depressed, I wasn’t doing all that much praying. I wasn’t reading anything profound, because my tender existence simply couldn’t manage it. All the meds I tried made me want to vomit. No, my depression left the same way it showed up: sudden, silent, and completely unexpected.

I’m grateful, of course. For the first time in a year and a half, I’m participating in my life. I stare at my two precious boys, and I wonder if they will remember. I wonder if they will remember the yelling. Or Mommy always wanting to sleep. Or the steady stream of Netflix. I wonder if my oldest will remember asking Mommy if she’s ok as she sits the middle of the kitchen floor, sobbing. I wonder if my littlest one’s heart will be affected by a Mom who wasn’t truly present until a year and a half into his life.

As I watch them sprint recklessly through another pile, it looks like they might not. But I still worry. I worry that depression will be my legacy; what I pass on to the next generation. Is that what will unintentionally trickle down into their absorbent minds? Is it already imprinted onto their innocently woven strands of DNA? I have no idea.

It’s getting dark early these days. By 7pm, we’re shrouded in inky darkness, a smattering of stars brilliantly poking out through the mist. He knows it’s bedtime, but my oldest pleads to go outside. In a sudden revolt from my schedule-sticker ways, I bundle the boys up, both of them grinning cheekily at Mommy breaking her own rules. I arm them with flashlights, and we head out into the night. Our lights pierce through the dark like flashing swords and we giggle and try to hide from each other. I shine my light straight up into the tree that was raining leaves on me earlier. The remaining leaves look ethereal, illuminated against the darkness. The boys are captivated for a second, and then they’re off, yelling for me to hurry up. We catch our breath in the playhouse and they wedge up next to me on the tiny bench, breathing rapidly, cheeks flushed. My oldest plops his head on my shoulder and squeezes my waist hard. He peeps up at me, his face glowing with delight.

This is a small moment. But it is a signpost, a marker of change. It is a glittering, bright star exploding against the darkness of the last year and a half. I wonder if it will be enough. I wonder if a smattering of stars will be enough for them. Or will I have to cover the darkness with millions of moments, bright enough to erase the darkness? My greatest fear is that I can never erase it. That everything I do will be shrouded, dulled by it.

My boys are small. I know some may feel my fears are unfounded. And they very well may be. But I still see their little faces crease when I get angry. I feel them pat my arm and hear them murmur, “I’m sorry, Mama” when they haven’t done anything wrong. When you’ve been gone for a time, it’s natural to wonder how your people got on without you. How they coped with the strange person inhabiting your body. A person so scared, so alone, and so very confused.

I hope they’re ok. I hope they forget all the darkness, and hold fast to every precious star.

I hope I can give them enough stars.