It’s A Phase, I Tell Myself

When I had a baby and a two-year-old, and they were both crying, and I hadn’t slept enough, and their father wasn’t home, I used to tell myself, “It’s a phase; they’ll get older and it won’t be as intense.”

When one of them kept biting other kids at daycare, and I recited every day, “Friends are not for biting. Friends are for playing and hugging,” I told myself, “It’s a phase, he’ll learn.”

When one of them regressed in his toilet training when anxious and I was always washing out dirty underpants, the story to myself again was, “It’s a phase; he can’t do this forever.”

Similarly when everyone had the flu and I was gagging as I rinsed vomit off sheets in the bathtub, when a teacher said that the drawings of airplanes with bombs meant I had a violent child, when one developed a phobia of elevators, car alarms and bees… the phrase got me through all the hardest parts of parenting small children. Not to say I ignored these challenges, but only that I kept in mind that they wouldn’t last forever.

This needs to be my mindset about the depressive episode I’m experiencing. It’s dark. It’s so, so lonely. It’s confusing. I get nothing done. I feel guilty about that. I’m boring. Everything hurts. I’m empty. I’m numb. I have body sensations that don’t fit what I am doing. I think obsessively about harming myself, killing myself, even as I’m determined not to do it.

And it’s a phase. It can’t last forever, even when it feels like it. Something will change. It’s hard to wait until it goes away, but it will go away. I can breathe, and let myself feel the loneliness, the emptiness, the hopelessness. It doesn’t feel good, but it’s the truth of where I am right now.

18 thoughts on “It’s A Phase, I Tell Myself

  1. yes, all these phases throughout our lives. i have so many unhelpful feelings related to that. my depression takes form in negativity, isolation and self anger (really i am angry at everyone and everything but not actually because i know it’s just me). what if life is just a series of phases. what if each phase is just so exhausting and we are just so tired?

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  2. Hey Q, been keeping up with your posts but not commenting much. Know that I’ve been thinking of you a lot, and sending as much strength and warmth as I can. Yes, this is just a phase, but it’s a long one, and it sucks, and I just want to validate that. Even if it just is a phase, feeling stuck in it is terrifying and helpless-feeling, and it’s okay to feel that way.
    I’m glad that you’ve been able to be safe. I see you taking one step at a time, just doing the next right thing, and that’s incredibly strong. Please know that.
    Hugs xoxoxo

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    • Lily, I know you are up against a lot right now. Thanks for taking the time to comment–I treasure each comment, truly. And thank you for recognizing that even if I know it’s a phase, it can feel eternal and overwhelming while I’m in the middle of it.

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have a “this will pass” similar phrase. I am so sorry you are so down now. I’m going through what a call a serious slump. It just sucks. It so sucks. I hope it passes for you soon!!!!

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  4. Yes, this is not permanent and it won’t last forever. I am so glad you are reminding yourself of that. It really will change, it has to. And your acceptance is really going to serve you. I’m feeling a lot of tenderness for your pain. I care, Q.

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