One of the hardest parts of my journey has been coming to terms with the years that I "checked out" emotionally.
That is what happens when you suffer from overwhelming and debilitating depression. You check out.
You check out of life. You aren't willing to do anything other than breathe. Breathe and try to survive.
That is how my life was for 6 years.
I just went through the motions. Trying to will myself to want to live. And that was even on anti-depressants and with counseling.
It was hard to even brush my teeth, get out of bed, get dressed and take care of my kids.
I slept walked through my own life.
Just getting by on what I had to do. Never doing more.
I remember some days staying in my pajamas until I had to go pick the girls up from school. Then I would quickly change and comb my hair to make them think mommy had done something while they were gone.
I will tell you, it is amazing that I survived those years. Because deep down, I was praying that God would just kill me and make the pain go away.
What haunts me now is not the depression as much as the thought that my family had to sit by and watch as I slowly tried to pull myself out of the fog. That I opted out of my children's lives whenever I could.
Not too long ago, a friend and I went walking. I love walking with her. It is like a mini therapy session with someone you love. Somehow, the topic turned to the dark years as I fondly call them now.
I told her that I had prayed I would not make it. How I just wanted to be done with all the pain I was feeling.
But, how now I hope my girls see how strong I have become. That they will remember the mom that exists right now. Because, I wouldn't change any of my past now. It has made me a better person. A more compassionate human being. More loving. Stronger.
That is what I want my girls to think of me now. Strong. Capable.
She ensured me, that the girls would be fine. Kids are resilient that way. That she never knew just how much I was hurting (although, she had an idea) because I kept it to myself.
I told her that like so many others that have faced their mortality (from my stroke and depression), somewhere in my mind is the memory of just how fragile life is.
That if heaven forbid, something were to happen to me tomorrow, I want my kids to know that I will fight with every breath I have to remain here with them.
That is the most valuable gift a parent can give a child. The security of knowing your parent not only loves you, but makes their health a priority to ensure they will be around for a long time.
The peace of mind, that I have given my girls is priceless.
When I got home this morning from boot camp my 10 year old was waiting on the couch for me. She is the one that took all my illnesses the hardest. The one that still deep down has fears of my departure.
But this morning when I asked her what she was doing up at the crack of dawn, she replied: "I am proud of you mom. You are strong."
Those are words I will carry around in my heart and hold precious. I am strong. I am strong because my girls have given me the strength to become a fighter.
Because of them I have a new found strength that I thought I did not have in me.