Monday, March 15, 2010

When Guilt Turns into Depression...

The summer after my freshman year, after my mother's stroke, we moved her into a nursing home. Because of her situation, I could no longer force myself to ignore this battle. Mostly each visit back to Chicago was characterized by a visit to go see my mother. During my time at school, Chicago visits had become synonymous with going to visit my mother and keeping her in good spirits. However, when I moved back to Chicago after my graduation, it hit me, no more visits to go see mommy. Grief. Guilt. I started thinking about my last visit to go see my mother. I had promised her that the next time I would see her I would be a college graduate. She smiled and although the stroke had taken her speech, she was able to utter a distorted "yay" that had the twinkle of a smile behind it.

Guilt. I remembered my sophomore year of college when my mother was placed in hospice care. I had been planning a trip down to Southern University for their Player's Ball, when I got a call stating that my mother would not make it through the week. When I got to Chicago, I feared what would be the inevitable two years later. Yet, when we got there, circumstances got a little brighter, my mother's health got a little better. She was living in spite of a prognosis of death. We sat around and joked that she devised this scheme so she could see her girls. With a twisted mouth, distorted voice, and a slight grin she uttered a "nooo." But then two years later, as I remembered my promise to my mother, the promise to be a better daughter, I wondered, what if I had came home just a little bit more. What if I never tried to build up that suspense and "surprise" her with my diploma. What if in the midst of my absence, she began to think that I didn't need her anymore and her spirits died causing her to? The what ifs took over my thoughts and the demons of guilt began to plague me.

It was Thursday, November 27, 2008, seven months after my mother's death and my first Thanksgiving without her. I was at my grandmother's house and as tradition would have us say what we were thankful for before we ate, I could think of nothing. I thought about my childhood, thought about the bodies that used to crowd around the table. My pa-pa, other friends and family and my mother. Heard all the voices of those that had gone home and I couldn't breathe. (Just like I can't breathe right now writing this post. I can't lie, right now I am bawling my eyes out, but it's therapeutic so I'll continue to write.) I thought about all those people and sadness overwhelmed me. I went into my one of the spare rooms in my grandmother's house, laid on the bed and cried myself to sleep. No food, not even granny's soul food, could comfort me. I wanted my mother. When granny came in to talk to me and tell me how "God would make a way," I rolled my eyes. I didn't want to hear about no damn god. By this time I had already stopped going to church about a month earlier.

Then less than one month later, December 25th, Christmas day. The realization of just how long forever would be, started to hit me. Words like NEVER entered my mind. I would NEVER see my mother again. I would NEVER be able to hold her hand again. I would NEVER be able to get the image of her body out of my head as it laid in her ivory casket with the golden trim. That day on Christmas, I sat in my house with the TV on watching me. Nothing to eat, but I wasn't hungry. At around 5pm, my dad had called me to see what I was doing, what I had eaten. Nothing. Nothing. My answer to both questions. He just said okay and hung up.

Six days later, New's Year's Eve, I came home from work. At seven o'clock I poured myself a full glass of Barcardi Gold Rum. That had become my drink of choice and for the past two or so months I was drinking almost everyday. Within the hour the glass was gone, and I was numb with drunkness. I slept through the New Year's countdown. It didn't seem important to me. Even though I was glad to see 2008 go, because it was the worst year of my life, 2009 wouldn't matter, because 2009 couldn't bring my mother back. 2009 wouldn't give me time to apologize for being the selfish little daughter that I had been when I was younger. 2009 wouldn't give my mother the 50th birthday that she deserved three days later on January 4th. So 2009 didn't mean a thing to me.

On Sunday, January 4th, 2009 I sat in my house with a glass of Bacardi and I sipped and cried. When my dad called me that day I tried to sound sober. "Soooo , you don't talk to anybody anymore?" he asked. "I ain't had nothing to say," I barked back. My dad was in DC on that day and wanted to know if I had went to church this Sunday. "Nope, didn't feel like it." "You haven't went to church in a while, what's up?" He asked wih a twinge of irritation, masked by concern. "Nothing." "Brittany, what's up?" "Nothing, I ain't got nothing to say to god and he ain't got nothing to say to me." My dad tried to probe into this statement, but after so many "because I don'ts" and "because he don't" my dad gave up and hung up on me. I didn't talk to him for a month.

My days began to consist of waking up, going to work, coming home, making a cocktail, crying, and going to sleep. I was in a functional state of depression. During this time I had built up a important friendship that was the epitome of intimacy and honesty. To this day I am grateful for his presence, because I believe in some way he saved my life. It was this friend who began to take a particular interest in my sleeping, eating, and drinking habits. He noticed my mood swings and forced me to talk to him because he knew the importance of me having to express my feelings in a healthy outlet.


  1. I think you are brave and strong for exposing a very sensitive area. I think that by writing this entry you have and/or will reach someone who is depressed. Hopefully it will help them know that they aren't alone and that just one person who is willing to listen (without judging)can help you vent your true feelings and confront them so you can overcome them.

  2. I want to comment but I don't even know what to say. I was so moved by this post. I admire your strength in living through this experience and your bravery in sharing it. As someone who is so often enervated by my mother, you reminded me that I will not always have her around and I should be grateful for her. Thank you.

  3. This was a great post. it was honest and it really did touch me. Thank you for sharing your story

  4. Thanks for sharing your personal story. It really brought me to tears - bawling actually. I identified with your story on so many levels. My mother passed almost 5 years ago and about a year after her death, I realized that I had basically been walking around depressed. Fortunately, I started seeing a psychologist and was able to work thru some of my issues surrounding her death. I realized after reading your blog that I may still have some lingering guilt that needs to be faced.

    For all whose parents are still living, please don't let petty disagreements keep you from enjoying them for as long as God allows them to walk this earth.

  5. I'm late, but I wanted to comment and thank you all for your comments. I really appreciate them and the assurance that telling my story was the right thing to do. Thank you all!


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