Personal Essays

The Color of Joy 

Painting the wainscoting.

I would say it feels like there are a lot of projects slowly progressing at the house, but it doesn’t just feel that way. It is that way. Lots of simultaneous projects, each slowly nearing completion.

In an alternate universe, I would be about ready to pop out a baby in the next couple of weeks. 

Instead I spent a good twenty minutes at 4:00am cleaning up dog vomit. Then I helped my pal Gus-in a way I never imagined-poop out a plastic bag. (This poor pup just can’t catch a break…and makes some awful decisions).

Gus was not amused when we took our morning walk during a rainstorm.

I’ve mentioned my depression on this blog before. But I do want to make one thing clear, although grief and sadness over the loss of a pregnancy are completely normal and manifest for different people in different ways; my depression was beyond grief and sadness. It was the likes of something I haven’t felt since I was fifteen years old. And it just wouldn’t end. Nearly eight months later, I’m finally seeing glimpses of who I am going to be, post-pregnancy. There were some really, very, super low points during the past eight months. And if you saw or spoke to me during this time, I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t quite seem myself.

Have you ever used the filters on your camera phone? One I use often is called “chrome.” It allows colors to have a deeper, richer hue. It very helpful in winter and fall, when the outdoors are otherwise muted. There’s another filter called “transfer.” I use this one more in the summer. It slightly tans or browns bright vivid colors so the super bright grass and sky and barn and flowers…aren’t distracting from the main focus of the image.

The past eight months, I have seen the world in transfer filter. But recently, it’s as though I can see colors in chrome.

I have known, throughout this depression, that as long as I fought the lies the depression told me there would eventually be a light at the end of the tunnel. And if the light was too far away, then I would need to shut my ego up and get professional help.

I see glimpses of the light. But I also needed professional help. (BTWs, finding therapy help in Boston when I was in college was excruciatingly difficult and took months….finding timely help in rural Iowa was nearly impossible-I’m talking to you Seasons Behavorial Health-answer your damn phone).

The Robin’s Egg Blue Tyler is painting the living room. It looks like the visual representation of the color of joy.

The sun behind the windows made for a dark frame, I’m afraid.

In the past, I’ve welcomed challenges, suffering and adversity because they molded me into a stronger more empathetic person.  I’m not sure who I am going to be now; but I am certainly less empathetic and definitely more judgmental. Suffering has always been one of the most important parts of being human. I know I would erase the whole experience if I could…and that’s a change in my core philosophy on personal suffering.
It is clear to me now that I may have been going through post-partun depression. It is also clear to me that I may have had some time of ante-natal depression and anxiety. (I wasn’t aware this was even a thing). I’m not sure it would be okay to go through the hormonal problems I faced again…willingly or otherwise. I’m not sure it would even be safe.

Definitely unsure of who I am about to become.

Here’s a better picture of the north living room wall. All sparkly and delightful.


Whoever walks out of that tunnel towards the light…I know there are people waiting to embrace me on the other side. As anyone who has experienced depression knows, it is only up to me to walk through it. Only the depressed person can save themself; no matter the good intentions of those around them. If you aren’t ready to help yourself, you aren’t ready to help yourself.

I can see the family that died in September. The future I envisioned now blowing in the wind.

I can see the family I do still have, which was once covered in shadows.
I’m so glad Tyler has been painting our living room the color of joy. Because I can see the joy. I haven’t seen joy in such a long time.

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