mind over mattress

if we could play word association and i mentioned the word ‘bed’, you might have the following responses:

• sleep • sex • cuddling • sick • insomnia • reading • watching t.v • headboard • comforter • duvet • pillows • murphy • bunk • twin • queen • king • sheets • room • dream • tired • nap • rest • snore •  morning night • relaxing • talking • feathers • cushion • soft • firm • spring • mattress.

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unless you’ve experienced it or love someone who has, this one could easily slip your mind…

de·pres·sion

/diˈpreSHən/ noun:

 1. severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.

 2. a condition of mental disturbance, typically with lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration or interest in life.

i’ve personally witnessed this ten letter word misused in casual conversations — “they didn’t have that shoe in my size!…i’m soooo depressed”.  sometimes it’s belittled and treated like a chipped nail — “she says she’s depressed. i personally think she’s…. lazy, because she misses so many work days.” depending who you speak with, you’ll be sure to hear an assortment of opinions. some good, and others are just plain stupid (excuse my lack of a better word). even in this day and age, it carries so many misconceptions and stigma.

smile. be happy”  −  “just get over it already”  − “you’re so sensitive”  −  “why do you take everything so personal”  − “stop crying already”  − “shake it off”  − “pull yourself together”  − “think happy thoughts, and you’ll be happy”  − “why are you always so negative?”  − “you’re being over dramatic right now”  − “you have so much to be grateful for, why are you sad?”  − “can’t you just snap out of it?”  − “when are you going to be your old self again?”  −  “is this how you want to live your life?”  − “well then, i guess you need to try harder”  − “there’s children starving in africa and people dying of cancer. there’s no reason why you should be depressed”  − “just be positive and everything will work out”  − “happiness is a choice.”  −  “staying miserable isnt going to get you anywhere”  −  “i can’t believe you’ve been in bed all day. you need to get up and get out already!”

it’s these statements which leaves people (like myself) feeling misunderstood and alone in their struggles.

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ain’t nothing like a having a bed to surrender to

there’s something comforting in knowing it will support my aching body and heart. when i’ve given all that i’ve got, i’m left with very little. maybe just enough energy to do the bare minimum. at that point, i really just want to crawl into bed. preferably mine, but anything with a semi-firm mattress will do. the second my head hits it, i instantly feel i rush of relief. a very similar feeling when i (actually) made it to first base playing baseball. ohh–i hated gym class more than anything! i’ll confess, i was “that girl”. the last one standing because nobody wanted to pick me for their team. i may just be the most pathetic person ever to attempt sports. so while reaching that base was insignificant to others (because sadly, i never made it to second), i literally exhaled. seriously, i’m not even kidding. i exhaled because i made it. in that same matter, i feel i’ve reached my safe place when i hug my pillow. i bury my face into it and it soaks up my tears. the comforter (which by the way, i think is an appropriate name) swallows me into an abyss of feather-filled puffiness. i get into my typical fetal position and i embrace my weakness. i accept i’ve done my very best to fight this battle. i’ve tried so hard to stay strong. to push forward with every little ounce i have. i’ve smiled beyond the sorrow, i’ve dragged myself hour after hour, day after day in fulfilling my obligations. i continue to push forward with all my might to cope with the the pain, and constant worries. then one day, “i… just… can’t… any more.” –those are my exact words. it feels like i’ve held my breath underwater forever. and while others may cheering “just a little bit longer…you can do it!”, i bring my head up for air. i’m struggling to catch my breath. i’m in severe distress and that’s when the bed lures me in. when i’m in that state of great vulnerability, i feel safe and my pain seems pacified. i like to believe it’s part of my recovery process. most people struggling with depression would agree. we so desperately need our rest. it’s not just emotional exhaustion, but our bodies take a beating too. i could literally stay there forever if we could. it encourages and satisfies my desire to give up for a while, and so i give in.

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fast forward a few days later

that same bed is completely transformed. maybe i changed too, but i certainly feel betrayed sort of speak. she (or he…the gender is debatable, right?), was my best friend. after all, it heard my prayers, caught my tears and excepted me just as i was — unshowered, dirty hair and a complete mess. it embraced me and brought comfort during my times of distress. when i closed off the world, that bed was mine. i become attached to it, because i felt this is where i belong. just as i’m reconnecting with my on-and-off buddy, i feel the knife in my back. i feel trapped, sometimes even handcuffed to this furniture. even when i finally feel the need to clean myself up, i can’t move. i want to go out. i want to do something fun and crafty with my daughter. go on a date with my hubby. chat with a friend. visit my sisters. have a play date with my niece and nephew. write a new post on my blog. work on opening up an etsy shop. cook a yummy meal. do the laundry (and fold it too). i want to do of all this so bad, but now i’m a captive. it’s like i signed my body and mind over to this bed. as you can see, we have a love/hate relationship.

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eventually, my caring husband will open the blinds and the warmth of the sun will touch me ever so perfectly

i feel a tiny bit courageous and i attempt what (almost) seems impossible for me. i have to say that getting up after a few days, is so darn hard! almost just as hard as when i toke my first steps after my awful c-section. the physical, mental and emotional pain is intense. i feel incredibly weak, nauseous, sad and fearful. i hold on to that little ray of hope. i complete each task one at a time. in between, i also take breaks–that’s how distraught and overwhelmed i feel. with the help of those who love me, i regain my strength little by little.

it’s a big milestone, when the bed no longer has control over me. until next time, that is. it’s a constant battle. one i’ve fought since my late childhood. so far, i can’t say it’s gotten easier. it’s just that i know the drill. of course, i’m currently working on my coping skills, but it’s tough. i have a long ways to go.

*i recently came across this non-profit organization. i think it’s a great site for those struggling with depression, anxiety or any form of mental/emotional distress. also, it’s a wonderful way for spouses, family and friends to educate themselves for the sake of their loved ones.

yours truly,

raquel

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18 thoughts on “mind over mattress

  1. wedded_bliss says:

    I love your blog! So glad I found it from instagram. I love love love this post. I am so glad you are willing to out yourself out there and write about depression. It’s so hard but it’s more common than you think, people just don’t want to admit to weakness. I’ve struggled with this for over 10 years, made worse with pregnancy and a baby! So hard to cope, but so worth it when you get the help that you need and when you start to feel like yourself again, it’s a miracle. Look forward to more posts!! PS your pictures are beautiful!!

    • the heart & art says:

      thank you so much! likewise, i love your blog! …like you said, it’s so common yet so misunderstood by those who are ignorant about the topic. also, you’re absolutely on-point about pregnancy and baby making it more complex. i really appreciate your encouraging words and support, as a wife and mother yourself. it feels good to be understood. can’t wait to see more pics of your growing family :)

  2. Melissa B. { hungryfoodlove } says:

    Raquel you are so beautiful inside and out. This post is part of the shades that make you beautiful and that make you human and real. I myself have gone through a time of depression and never thought of it like that but the bed and the darkness of my room had me in their hands for days. I am so glad they no longer have control over me. Because I have been there and because I am not there right now that’s why I just cant even stop praising our Lord, giving thanks and sharing my positive thoughts. I dont want to be ignorant and disrespect you by cheering you up …but I trust and I know that you are stronger than that piece of furniture, you know it too and I pray that this battle ends. Love Love tons of Love for you

    • the heart & art says:

      Melissa-thank you for your warm words. your kindness is greatly appreciated. even though we just met, i feel as through we’re so connected some how. maybe it has something to do with that fact that we’re both dominican..lol. in all seriousness though, i’m so glad i found your blog and a new friend. even though we might be miles away, we share experiences, ideas and thoughts that bring us together. the love you extend is such a beautiful thing and i’m beyond grateful! many blessings xo

      • JSolomon says:

        Thinking further on this…because I think you are familiar with PPD, what really got me was that the vast majority of moms I tried to talk to had no idea what I was going through. But were completely convinced that they knew exactly what I was going through. And never understood that they didn’t. On one hand, who can blame them, because they all went the newborn phase, too. But they were all so busy trying to convince me that they understood that they never stopped to listen to what I was going through. It was a rare friend who at least got that they didn’t relate to what I was going through. It taught me who my real friends are, that’s for sure.

  3. Miranda says:

    I agree that the bed can be a type of prison, but I would also add the sofa too. There were times when I would get up and just move to the sofa, so I could be up (or at least appear so for my kids). I would zone out again sitting up right in the sofa listening to mind numbing episodes of Spongebob and whatever I would find or my kids put on the tv. I would use the excuse that I wanted to just catch up on this series or that one before doing something productive.

    • the heart & art says:

      Miranda-everything you just wrote, i can completely relate to. it’s so rare to find someone who understands word for word. i means a lot to me that you’d share your personal experience. thank you for taking the time to read my post and extending your support. it brings me comfort to know that i have a fellow blogger who i can chat with about these difficult struggles in life.

  4. Jasmine says:

    I remember days just laying in bed… I tried so hard to detach. It was so hard to explain to people. I appreciate, so much, your willingness to talk about this.

  5. Katie Vyktoriah says:

    The worst kinds of depression (in my experience) are the ones you suffer when there is no logical reason behind it. It’s easy to blame a person or a situation if you’re feeling down. But when everything in life is great, and you are STILL suffering and can’t pull yourself up, then that is when true depression is apparent.

    I have been there. So so many times. I’ll be 31 years old next month, and I can’t remember any one year of my life that I haven’t struggled with this crippling mental anguish.

    But when the fog clears and I get to experience happiness, I jump on and hold tight. I know not to take it for granted. It can be gone so quickly. But for a little while, I can remember what I’m fighting for.

    Thanks for sharing this post in the Mommy Bloggers community. xx

  6. Monica E says:

    I have days like this too. And it frustrates me when people are so nonchalant about depression and anxiety. Recent events in my life have caused me to be on medication for it and it and my faith have been a huge thing for me! Thanks for bringing light to this subject!

    • the heart & art says:

      exactly, monica! it’s so hard to explain how and what you feel. Likewise, meds have been helpful during very challenging seasons of my life. Above all, my faith also has carried me through through dark times.

  7. Mary Davis says:

    Yes, I can relate. What a friend and comfort that bed can certainly be, but so easy to hate when you feel it’s holding you back from the life you want to be living. It’s a very hard thing to overcome, but it certainly seems as though you have an understanding of yourself and that you’re being forgiving of yourself. That’s so important. So nice to see you have a supportive spouse.

    • the heart & art says:

      mary, thank you for sharing these encouraging words. i appreciate you have an understanding for my feelings and you wrote about your own. i’m grateful for the support of my husband, and i hope you have a good support system too. xo

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