Mascara On A Hollowed-Out Gourd

I ran out of my depression medication about two weeks ago, so I am officially off my meds. It’s been tough, but I think I’ll use it as an excuse the next time I’m at the front of a long line at Walmart trying to pay for diapers and groceries with a four-year-old asking for gum and a two-year-old crying to be held. When it takes me 10 minutes to pay for my items due to the constantly changing credit card system that I can’t keep up with and people behind me are growing visibly restless, I’ll just sigh and tell the cashier, “Sorry, I’m off my medication.”

Then the sweet, grandmotherly lady behind me will smile sympathetically and say “Here, honey, do you want a Xanax?” because every other person in America is on Xanax. And I will smile gratefully through my just-forming tears and accept the kindness of a stranger, but if anybody ever asks me later about the incident I will swear up and down I never did, because sharing scripts is illegal.

I didn’t mean to go off my medication. I received a prescription for Zoloft last year from a doctor in Nevada, and when I tried to refill it a couple weeks ago in our new home of Arizona the pharmacist said I was out of refills. So, I called my new doctor’s office, who sent over the wrong prescription refill. I didn’t realize the mistake until I was at my home, which is located 2 1/2 hours from town.

Another week went by, during which I called the doctor’s office multiple times. They took messages, contacted other people within the office, painted their nails, did each other’s hair, played gin rummy, and washed the neighbor’s cat while I sat at home, watching my serotonin levels drop and hoping like hell that they would call me, or at least come wash my cat, because God knows that’s next to impossible even if you aren’t super sad for no good reason.

Finally, I got ahold of a receptionist, and she discovered a note in my chart that said I needed to come in for an office visit to get a refill. I immediately scheduled an appointment for my next town trip, which was a full week away. Now I’m just counting the minutes until Wednesday and praying the doctor will give me a refill so I can smile and mean it again.

Because even if I’m depressed, I still have to take care of my family. And my kids are young and demanding – for example, they expect me to not only wake up every day, but to also get out of bed. Changing out of my pajamas is optional, but I make myself put on daytime clothes in the futile hope that it will make me feel better.

I brush my hair and put on a little lipstick, but that only makes my outward appearance look brighter. Inside, I still feel empty, like a hollowed-out gourd that is made into a bird house. You can put foundation and eyeliner on a bird house, but that doesn’t make it happy. You know what the gourd really needs to feel happy? A prescription antidepressant.

Drugs seem like a last resort to non-depressed people, many of whom like to say things like “Just think positive!” “Go for a walk!” “Cheer up!” “Listen to music that makes you happy!” “Smile more!” and my personal favorite, “Fake it till you make it.”

I smile, but it doesn’t reach my eyes. I crack a joke, and I mechanically recognize that people laughed at it, but it doesn’t make me any happier than a bird house wearing mascara. I laugh, but it sounds out of place. I sigh, and that feels about right.

Going for walks temporarily helps, especially on sunny days. But I have to stop walking eventually and return home to my children, who will by then undoubtedly have upped their list of demands to include food and drinks. And then one of them will hit the other one, or steal a toy, or pull hair, or scream, and my body will freak out and yell obscenities and slam the door and they will cry. Meanwhile, my mind will hover in the corner of the kitchen, wringing its hands and watching the whole scene while silently pleading “Stop, stop! This isn’t the kind of mother you are! You don’t want to be like this!” but it won’t be able to do a goddamned thing about it.

I give myself pep talks to feel better about taking medication so I can feel the basic human emotion of happiness. It seems so lame, and some people are quick to point that out. Others compare it to a heart patient taking medication to keep their ticker ticking. I appreciate the sentiment, but no one ever says “That heart patient is just taking the easy way out. If only she tried a little harder, she wouldn’t need those drugs, undoubtedly pushed by Big Pharma, to stay alive and participate in everyday activities.”

But I know that I am taking my meds not only for myself, but for my family. I grew up with a depressed dad, and he was much better able to take care of me when he was taking his medication. Today, he is on a stable dosage and calls twice a day to check on me when I’m struggling. I want to be a good mom for my kids and not freak out because they are fighting and dumping Cheerios on the floor and whining for another piece of Halloween candy. You know, normal kid stuff.

I also take my meds for the sake of my marriage. When I’m out of Zoloft, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will pick a huge fight with my husband. I don’t want to, but I know I will. This time I freaked out about not having enough money, which is weird because we’re a cowboy family and I’m cheerfully accustomed to not having enough money.

So, my husband and I yelled and screamed and cussed at each other. I slammed a door and cussed some more. Then the rage left, and I felt bad and apologized. We chatted about pleasant topics, like what to get the kids for Christmas and when we should get the dog spayed. I felt embarrassed over my freak-out, then sad that we’d fought, then drained and exhausted.

That night, I crawled into bed and pulled the covers over my head like a child, praying for the respite of sleep but knowing I had to wake up and get out of bed in the morning again. But at least it would be one day closer to Wednesday.

Is Milo off his meds? Nope, he’s just doing his impression of his mama.

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About Jolyn Young

I grew up in California, way up north near the Oregon border. My family raised commercial Herefords long enough to get me hooked on cowboying, for better or for worse, but not for prosperity. I met my husband, Jim, in 2011 when we worked for neighboring ranches in North Fork, Nevada. We fell in love, got married and had a baby - kind of in that order. We now live on the O RO Ranch in northern Arizona, where Jim works as a cowboy and I take care of our two kids and write a humor column called Desolate Ranch Wife. I love the Lord and credit Him with all my victories and accomplishments. More important than anything I accomplish or don't accomplish, though, is the eternal salvation of my soul that believing in Jesus promises me. Thanks for your time. Have a great day!
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20 Responses to Mascara On A Hollowed-Out Gourd

  1. A Horseman's Wife - Ashley Weaver says:

    Jolyn – this post was so raw and real. Loved it. Thanks for not only sharing the humor of your ranch life but the heart-wrenchimg stuff as well. ❤

  2. Ron Donnelly says:

    All around signs say,”Cheerup things could be worse”so I cheered up and sure enough,things got worse.

  3. Linda Stevens says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences even when they aren’t pretty or cute. Thanks for sharing the “warts” in your life. Times like that make it hard to remember that Jesus is with you even in the dark times, but He is. I’m praying for you to be able to focus on Him and that He will help you to be your best. We, your followers, are rooting for you!

  4. Thanks for sharing and making the effort to educate us on what someone with depression goes through. May God bless you.

  5. Lauren sweezey says:

    I haven’t had depression Jolyn but I’ve had many times of despair from things I couldn’t change.
    Wednesday is gonna be good Jolyn, I’ll be praying for you tonight to have the courage, faith and action to trust the Lord’s arms and protection around you. He is so amazing, reach up and let him hold your hand. This might seem silly, but I have done this many times and it is real❤️ Lauren s. P.S. My home is always open to you and the family❤️❤️ Next time you’re up this way.

  6. Kerry says:

    You are tough as wet leather to handle all of this.

  7. Glenmore Begaye says:

    Good Morning Jolyn
    This hard to commit on issues so close to home
    I’ve spend a life time dealing with depression
    I’m on the ranch with my wife and the children have left
    They’re happily married and have careers
    Seems for me , a seasonal thing February during my birthday
    And autumn and early fall. I’ve come to recognize its ugly head
    I was on meds and living away from town.
    I white knuckled it and ride a bunch of broncs
    Till I’m busted head to toe
    Problem was I enjoyed it to much
    So I’m still raising horses and loving on colts
    I’m blessed that my wife still stands by me
    Blessings and love to you and your family

    • Jolyn Young says:

      Thanks for your wonderful comment, Glenmore. I’m sorry to learn you deal with the same issues, but I’m glad to hear you have a wonderful family and have learned to recognize your depression triggers and deal with it. Have a great day!

  8. I had pre-partum depression with my third baby, and the way you describe yourself watching yourself unravel is exactly how it was for me. Inside my head, I’d be insisting I was not the kind of mom who screamed at her toddler for not napping or locked her three-year-old in his room so she couldn’t slap him for talking back, but that didn’t change what was happening. Good for you for knowing the meds help, for doing everything you can to get the help you need, and for sharing your struggles so others who have to deal with such things know they’re not alone. Tomorrow is Wednesday! I’m praying you get to the doctor without mishap.

    • Jolyn Young says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words! Feeling powerless to stop the wreck is the worst. I am feeling optimistic about tomorrow! Thanks for the prayers, they are so appreciated.

  9. 3grrrlsknit says:

    I’m sorry you have to deal with all that. Having to take something to be happy isntvanything to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Better to be a functioning adult! I have been going through some hard life stuff this year and can relate to that feeling of not wanting to be ‘that mom’. Since it is now Thursday, you are probably starting to feel better.

    • Jolyn Young says:

      Thanks for the kind words! Yes, I got a refill yesterday so I am patiently waiting for that to kick in. It’s uplifting to know I did something to help myself, though! Best wishes for strength dealing with your hard stuff, from one mom to another 🙂

  10. Kate says:

    You are so brave in sharing your story, so many bloggers just talk about the happy times. I applaud you and although I don’t have depression I have been that mom, wringing her hands and wanting to pull out her hair while running away from home. You got this momma! The kids won’t remember those moments, just the ones where you’re loving on them.

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