It Was All Yellow
Depression is like being in a room that is filling up with water. For me, depression has likely been there since before my earliest memories; it's familiar to me - a slow leak that needs continuous maintenance and care. If neglected, it can engulf you.
I used to have little tricks to navigate it. When I was a child, I'd squeeze my eyes closed as tightly as possible until all I could see (or imagine) was neon yellow. Then I'd count to see how many seconds I could sustain being enveloped in the brightness. When I became an adult, I took every yoga class I could afford. I still use those tricks today. So if you see me surrounded by screaming children and my eyes are squeezed shut, start walking backward slowly.
Same goes for finding me in a deep down dog. Just call me later.
As a parent, my number one goal is to give my kids a toolbox they can carry through this life. A toolbox is specific; it's not armor that protects you from the setbacks, the embarrassment, the poor choices. Instead, it's a coping companion. It's the thing you take with you not to change your circumstances, but to respond to them better. And let's be honest, the greatest likelihood of anything becoming better starts with laughing about it.
But just because it's my number one goal doesn't mean I've met it. In fact, I fall short most of the time. Giving them the right tools means opening my own toolbox when I start to feel the drips of the leaking water, which doesn't always happen. Instead, it's heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter, loaded with chocolate chips, eaten over the sink while wearing some of my greatest hits from my robe-only wardrobe collection. One. Lucky. Husband.
In middle-agedom, I'm trying to see struggles for my kids through the lens of that pale, freckled, little person with her eyes squeezed shut. I try to honor her, in a way. Maybe she knew that the brightness was right where she already was.