I have been thinking a lot lately about purpose. When I’m feeling really low, I wonder, what’s the point? Why am I here? Am I really making a difference to anyone? I’ve talked before about being in a funk, and when I’m in one of those, the light is very, very hard to see. But where I’m at now is different. Think of depression like malaria. I’ll always have it, and when I’m fevered and in pain, you can see it. You remember I have this chronic, incurable disease. When I’m healthy, I still have malaria, but maybe you let yourself forget about it for a little while. You forget that I’m sick.
Right now, I’m in a highly functioning phase of my depression, where I interact with people, I run errands, I get things done around the house. In this phase, I don’t spend entire days napping, or go for a week without a shower. I look and act like everyone else. But behind the façade is this feeling of purposelessness. A voice in my head that’s shouting, “What am I doing here?” I can’t even decide on a theme for this blog. At this point, it feels like it’s about everything and nothing, and that murkiness nags at me constantly.
I pass a graveyard every day on my way to pick up CJ from school. It’s a tiny graveyard on the corner of a field, in the middle of the country. There’s one tree that hangs over the ancient stones, and a curving drive that winds through the neatly trimmed lawn. There are always people visiting, almost every day as I pass it. I think about the lives of the people buried underground. What must they have done, to warrant so many visitors? What had their purpose been? And now that they’re dead, is that purpose magnified? Will anyone remember that I picked up my kid every day from school? That I was the only one that could translate Sam’s stuttering sentences when he was two? Or will people remember that I was a nurse and a stay at home mom? And will that be enough?
I don’t mean to sound morbid, rather, the opposite. I feel like, as a SAHM, I’m waiting for my life to start. I mean, I love what I do, but I have no sense of accomplishment at the end of my day. There is no excitement when I wake up, I just wake up. There is no showering in anticipation of a big meeting, there’s no cramming the night before an important lecture. There’s just me and the kids and my husband. There’s sunggles in bed and TV in the mornings and races around the house and laughter and yelling and time outs and baths and bedtime routines and groceries and laundry and my disgusting master bathroom that I can’t seem to motivate myself to clean. A full-time job seems so appealing at times, a reason to get out of bed, a way to advance my nearly nonexistent career. But a full-time job would mean leaving my life now, a life of laziness and laughter and a life I love so, so much.
Maybe it’s not that my life doesn’t have purpose. Maybe it’s that I have to learn to be OK with my slower pace, my daily nap, and my coveted couch time before bed. Maybe just by being there for my kids I’m serving a purpose greater than I will ever know. Maybe when they visit me at that graveyard, they won’t talk about what I did, they’ll talk about who I was. Maybe they’ll remember me as a mom who loved spending time with them so much that she gave up what she thought she wanted so she could be with the people she needed, and who needed her right back.