Imagine being 18, in high school, and pregnant. That is how Lucy found herself. Lucy is one of the several young people who contributed essays to the book a picture is worth…, which is designed to be an education curriculum component complemented by photos and online media segments. A few weeks ago I wrote about my reaction to another teen in the book, Aaliyah.
In Lucy’s poignant essay, she talks about her experiences during the pregnancy as well as after giving birth. The father of the baby was tragically killed while Lucy was pregnant, which would be hard for a woman at any age to deal with. As I read that part of the essay, I thought about how my primary concern in my last year of high school was getting good grades to get into the local university. I was not concerned with rearing a child or grieving over a boyfriend passing away.
Lucy dropped out of school and got a job that she did not like very much. When her son was five months old, Lucy fell into a deep depression and could not get out of bed for several days. I thought back as I read this part to when I had my depression and how difficult it was to even brush my teeth. I recall my parents making me do it, but I had no desire to do anything related to hygiene—or anything else for that matter. The bed seemed safe to me, and I imagine Lucy likely felt that way too. As she explains:
“I couldn’t get out of bed, hardly ate and was a mess. Mom was not having it. She told me to get my butt up and to do something with my life.”
That quote in particular resonated with me, as my mom and dad were crucial to my becoming productive again in real life rather than wanting to stay in bed all day under the covers. I wondered if other people have had similar circumstances. Perhaps it was not a parent who said to get out of bed, but instead was a partner, other family member or friend.—someone who cares about the person battling depression.
In addition, I thought about how difficult it is to understand depression if you yourself have never experienced it. I liken it to how I envision skydiving to be a certain way, can watch videos or read up on it, but cannot truly know what it feels like unless I experience it for myself. To tell someone to stop being depressed does not work; it simply reminds the sufferer they have been labeled. Personally I find it aggravating to be told to act a different way than in a genuine reflection of how I feel at a particular time.
Looking back to Lucy’s story, I have been thinking how glad I am that she did get out of bed eventually and continue to take care of her child. She admits that having a child is difficult, and I can only imagine how much she likely wants to stay in bed still some mornings. I am sure that a large part of why she does strive to be her best is to be a role model for her son and to provide the best life she can for him.
While I do not have children, I do have parents and a few close friends who encourage me to live to my fullest potential. That is part of why I get out of bed in the morning. The other part of it is that I have the determination to help others to see that they can come from rock bottom and still make something of their lives. It is not easy to keep going, but there are happy moments to look forward to when you do so!
What about you? What gets you out of bed in the morning?