I went to the apple orchard and was not anxious.
I know this seems like a normal thing, but I need you to know it is the first time in my adult life that I can remember it happening. It is the first time since I was 16 that I can remember not being anxious at the apple orchard.
My junior year of high school I got really sick. I got really depressed because I was really sick. It was pretty clear that I was in a spiral, so my mom through out all the rules about if you don’t go to school you can’t leave the house and took me to the apple orchard for lunch. She thought maybe I needed to be outside. I remember being grateful as we ate our donuts on the picnic table. But I also remember being anxious that someone was going to see me, or ask me why I wasn’t in school, or….I don’t even know what. I was just anxious.
We’ve been going to the same apple orchard for three or four years now. The ten dollar admission isn’t cheap, but then there is no more asking. The jumping pillow, the pig races, the petting farm, the cow train, all are included in the price of admission. Even the clogger show and the cow milking are things I can say yes to.
It sounds like a practically perfect day, and it always is. We started inviting our family and friends who are like family. And every year I would sit on the bench while my kids took 15 turns on the zip line, or road the cow train seven times in a row, and my head would be full of boxes I needed to tick off: Have we seen the pigs race? What time is that? What time is it now? Are we going to milk the cows? Are we going to buy the apples? Should we pick them? Is the kid I can’t see okay? Are they spending too much time on the jumping pillow? Are my kidless friends bored? Does my sister need something? Is my husband having a good time? Are we making enough memories? Have I taken enough pictures? Are my kids going to be picked for the chicken chase? Do I want them to be? What if they cry? What should I do? What if I am doing this all wrong all wrong all wrong?
That is what was going through my head every year at the apple orchard. I think part of it has to do with the changing of the seasons. It is dark when we get the girls up and the sun sets before bedtime. I just need more sunlight, I need more vitamin D. I need more serotonin in my brain.
The way that people talk about motherhood sometimes, it makes it sound as though this thought pattern is normal. No one thinks that they are enough! Everyone is plagued with mom guilt! Everyone worries about their kids! And that is true to an extent, but not like that. Not like sitting on the porch, admiring the beautiful view, being really happy that your people are with you, and not being able to stop the voice in your head that is telling you that this is either all wrong right now, or it is about to be.
Yes, mothers are often exhausted at the end of the day, but not because they are afraid all day long no matter what they do. Yes, mom guilt sucks, but it shouldn’t be the predominant force in your thought pattern on any given day. Yes, moms can benefit from an occasional glass of wine in the evenings, but it shouldn’t be the go to for turning the angry voice in your head off.
The slippery thing about anxiety and depression is that sometimes, these thoughts are normal. Sometimes, it is totally normal to be overwhelmed. Sometimes life is just like that. But when sometimes become most times, when sometimes becomes almost all times, that isn’t okay. It is a problem. something is wrong.
I was suffering from what they call high functioning depression. Yes, technically I was pushing through, but there were better ways of coping. As it turns out my body doesn’t make enough serotonin. It probably hasn’t since I was a teenager, and I used to do this or that to manage my moods. But what I needed was more serotonin in my brain. I have been taking 20 mg of prozac since March and I am just so relieved. I don’t have to fight for the space in my brain for positive thoughts. There is so much more room.
I wasn’t anxious at the apple orchard y’all. I sat through a practically perfect day and believed each moment that it was practically perfect, that I was good enough. I am noticing the changing of seasons this year, and it is not making me sad. I take prozac every day, and it doesn’t feel like a failure. It feels like a miracle.