"Noelle, you've been ornery for a really really really long time," is what my brother said to me when I sat down in his office today.
And then he ducked his head, apparently waiting for me to throw something at him, or at the very least burst into tears.
I did neither.
Instead I put my head on his desk and said, "I know. But life has been hard for a really really really long time."
"I didn't say being ornery wasn't justified," Ben said. "But I can tell a difference lately. You seem happier. You seem more like you, and I'm glad."
* * * * *
When I had reached the point where I knew I was in trouble if something didn't change, I made an appointment with my doctor.
And I went in and told him about the last year of my life...about the stress, about the fear, about all of it, and when I was done, and had answered all of his questions, and filled out his paperwork, he sat on his stool and shook his head a little bit sadly.
"Sweetheart, you didn't really have a choice. With what I imagine is genetics from your great great aunt Tilly, and more stress that your body can handle, you didn't stand a chance against what is a pretty serious case of depression, and some PTSD thrown in for good measure."
"And without some help, your body can't correct the chemical imbalance that the circumstances of your life has created."
* * * * *
It's been a week. He told me it would take three or four, before I noticed that the medication is helping.
I notice every single day.
And I wish with all of my heart that I had asked for help sooner.
When I told Jason about my appointment he said, "I won't tell anyone about it."
And at first I didn't think I would either.
But why not?
Why not be honest with the fact that it's been hard and I needed help?
"It's like I've spent the last year of my life walking along the edge of disaster, and at any moment I knew I would fall off the edge, and never be able to recover," I told my brother today.
"But now that edge is farther away. It's not right there staring me in the face."
I feel like I can breath...truly breath...for the first time.
* * * * *
I stopped at Barnes and Noble on my way home tonight.
Em was with her daddy and I had a few minutes of alone time.
Barnes and Noble is one of my favorite places to spend alone time.
I hadn't been looking at journals for very long before a girl several years younger than me turned to me and said, "Isn't this journal beautiful?" In her hands she was holding a leather journal.
(The fact that I seemed approachable in and of itself was a miracle. Being ornery for a 'really really really long time' makes you somewhat unapproachable.)
"It is beautiful," I responded. "Is it $60 beautiful?"
"No, it's only $40 which seems like a really good price," she told me.
"I'll have to count my dollars and see if I can get it."
"Oh, it's just so beautiful," she said again, this time a bit whimsically.
"Do you write in a journal or do you just collect them?" I asked.
"I fill them full," she told me.
And then she smiled and walked away.
I watched her for a minute as she pulled out a bundle of cash and counted it.
As I got in line a few minutes later to check out, this girl was ahead of me.
I heard her ask the cashier if they had any coupons running.
The cashier mentioned that if she gave them her email address, they would send her a coupon for joining their email list.
"Oh good! My email is ... " and then she asked the cashier, "can you hold this for me for a few days?"
The cashier said that she could, and the girl walked away again...but only as far as the magazine rack before she stopped to pick up a magazine.
When it was my turn I saw the journal still sitting on the counter and I said to the cashier, "You might think I'm crazy, but I would like to buy her that journal."
The cashier's eyes got big and she said, "That's not crazy. That's incredibly kind."
She put the journal in a bag and I walked up to the girl and tapped her on the shoulder.
When she turned around I smiled and handed her the journal.
"Happy writing," I said.
"WHAT? Are you serious? NO! I can't take this. Please, at least let me give you the cash I have in my wallet" were all the things the girl said almost at once.
I smiled again and said, "It's okay. You keep your money and your journal and have a great day," and then I walked out the door.
As I was leaving I heard her say to the cashier, "I really can't believe that just happened to me."
* * * * *
As I drove home I thought again about what my brother said.
"You seem more like you, and I'm glad."
Two years ago I wouldn't have thought twice about buying a stranger a journal.
Two months ago the thought of making a young girl's day wouldn't have even crossed my mind.
My brother is right.
I do seem more like me.
And I'm glad too.
I've missed me.
* * * * *