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Empty Nest Syndrome: How Did I Get Through The Depression?

Updated on March 13, 2011
Looking for something..........
Looking for something..........

What It Should Have Been....

This was the time I had spent many years looking forward to.........

After mothering three daughters, with an often absent father, I was finally going to have rest.

This new found freedom was supposed to bring me time to garden, can my vegetables, sew, do craft-works, read, whatever caught my fancy. Life was to be now at my beckoning.

Finally, with my home returned to me, I would write that novel. This was my time.

That is the way, I had always imagined it.

The way that I had imagined it, became my prison.

We Had Arrived

 The undefinable American Dream was ours.  We had put our name on it.  A home with land, the youngest of three preparing to go to college.  My career had been very lucrative, his business was still taking form, but it was prosperous and blooming.  The world, or at least, what I expected from it was at my fingertips.

We Had Worked Hard

 As a high school student, a coach, substituting, for a class that I can not remember, made the statement, " some people are paid for doing, and some people are paid for knowing".  Even though, I can not remember the class, the profoundness of that statement struck me in my young tracks.........adults, beware, you never know how you influence the young!

A line was drawn in my youthful mind, doctors/plumbers.......nurses/secretaries......teachers/cooks........writers/readers.........

It may have even defined worth to me.  Am I worthy for my knowing or for my doing?

My husband is a doer......he builds, he makes, he creates, he solves mechanical problems.  I am a knower.....I research, I learn, I tell others what I learned.  We formed a great team.

He commands a fantastic wage, yet it takes a very physical toll.  In time, I too would command a great wage, but it took an emotional toll.  We agreed on a plan, live on his earning, invest mine.

It worked, and it served us very well.  Child-rearing was added to my duties.  Worry was added to his.

This is real..........
This is real..........

What is the point?

I had this faboulus yard, and no one at home to enjoy it. An outdoor kitchen patio and no one to cook for. A garden to make my Granddad proud and no one to eat of its fruits.

I sank into a deep depression. Having grown up under the influence of brothers, I had little compassion for " womanly" complaints. They seemed to be excuses to me. ( so sorry sisters).

Empty nest syndrome? What a joke!

I would learn how empty the human heart can feel. It would be a hard lesson.

Looking back, I honestly, do not know how my husband endured it. He was going about his business as always.........if he called home, he was interrupting me, if he did not, he was ignoring me. The man must have been baffled. He trudged on, and on........

Even I knew I was being irrational. After weeks of unexplained, sadness, I sought medical help.

It is to my great fortunate that I met with a sympathetic nurse practitioner. She knew about menopause and the empty nest syndrome. She knew, that those who menstruate early in life, often go through an early menopause. She prescribed a mild anti-depressant.

Whoa, wait a minute! Aren't anti-depressants for those who can not control themselves? I took 3 tablets and the guilt took over. Yes, I felt guilty for needing help. I discarded the medications, my family must not know of this weakness.  Surely, I can control my own mind!

It was not about the mind........

I made it so much harder than it had to be.

My husband continued to endure. My daughters were busy with college life. I was alone in the woods.

Anguish on my face....
Anguish on my face....
She continued to play.
She continued to play.

Reality Slapped Me In My Face!

I was going to be alone..............

After years of having children at my coat tail, and then employees calling my name........

There would be no one asking me for direction.

The deer would still eat the corn, the squirrels would still climb the trees, the birds would still fly, the grass would grow...........but no child would greet me, asking, " Mom, what do you want me to do today", no employee would say, " Miss Ylonda, do you want me on the floor or the cash register"............

No one needed me.

Never, since the age of four, when my Grandmother assigned me some kitchen chore, had I not been needed.............not once.

The world would work without me.

I was devastated!

I felt worthless.

I felt old.........yet, I was in my late 30's.  Still young, and able to retire.

Healthy, vibrant, young, financially secure, retired, and OLD before 40! I was useless.

taking this.........
taking this.........
I sat here......
I sat here......
and mourned this.....
and mourned this.....

A Lovely Autum Morning

The morning sun awoke me. The air was warm. The small wildlife were at play. Taking my morning coffee, I went to the yard swing.

I was prepared to weep, again. There would be no one to tell me to hush or to call me a crybaby, in this rural setting. Privacy was my domain, and I would let the tears flow.

With warm coffee still in my mug, a butterfly lit on my hand.

This has happened to you before. It had certainly happened to me, bees, wasps, dragonflys as well.

But this would prove to be different.

This butterfly was content to reside there. I pulled my hand closer, closer, and still closer to my face. The transparency of its wings became evident.

So fragile, so delicate, a single blow could end it all.......yet, I did not dare.

I looked , first at the butterfly, then through it,........how could this tender and delicate thing, survive the storms of the winds, the snows of winter, the hard rains of spring? How? No answer came, yet, it did survive, despite the odds.

That butterfly probably spent 3 maybe 4 minutes on my hand. It stood steady as my hand brought it in for a closer look, then closer, retreating for a distant glance, back again, so close that I could actually see through its delicate wings. Through those wings, I could see the vegetable garden, the woods, the back yard...........turning all directions as my hand dictated, she stood steady.........

Finally, I understood,

there is still beauty in the world waiting to be seen.

Then, she took her flight.

I was healed.  My life was not over, but it would take new directions.

this brought a message...... Life is for the living.
this brought a message...... Life is for the living.
so did this...... I was still needed.
so did this...... I was still needed.

In my sorrow.........

Through the butterfly, my spirit was reawakened......to new roads, new dreams, and another who would need me.

In time, my children would need me again.

Life, does indeed go on........

Just get through the storm, and the sun shines again.  Use the tool that works for you.

When you are strong again, share your battle with another.

What Others Had to Say...........

 

thougtforce 43 hours ago

This was such an incredibly good description of how life suddenly stop and change. And it can almost seem like an insult when life outside goes on and on as if nothing has happened! When life is spinning at full speed with children and career there is no way to make time for yourself and it is difficult to maintain your social networks outside the family. An empty house, and much time is such a contrast. Your story shows that there is hope, you can get quality time for yourself once we get use to have time of our own! Oddly, one must constantly learn new things, nothing is obvious! I so enjoy reading this, it is very well written!

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    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Clearly, you've touched a lot of people by sharing your heart here, and I'm one of them. Our mothers don't teach us about empty nest syndrome so no wonder each one of us doesn't want to discuss it when our time comes, thinking we're different, but clearly we're all so much alike! Your story is so very inspiring. You've done something great here. Thank you!

    • annaw profile image

      annaw 6 years ago from North Texas

      I was a long time since I read this but I read it again tonight. I have battled Major Depression for 14 years. I have never stopped feeling guilty about taking those meds, as it went completely against everything my mother told me. I was definitely ashamed that I could not survive normally without them. I still have days when the depression creeps up on me and knocks me up side the head, but I am not a quitter I keep fighting and have found renewed strenght and outlets to keep me on track.I have a closer relationship with Christ too.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Ah, the green grass! After having spent several years in the barren desert, when I reentered my home state.........I took off my shoes and walked through the grass..................what a treat !!

      Thanks, Logic and commonsense........

      It does appear that you understand the healing

      value of nature and the simple things around us.

      Thanks for coming by, hope to see you again.

    • profile image

      logic,commonsense 6 years ago

      Beautiful and touching.

      When things start to get overwhelming, I go look at my fruit trees, my honeybees, then lay in the green grass, bask in the sun and let Mother Earth embrace me and wash away all that troubles me. It is cathartic. It gives me the strength to get up renewed and refreshed, confident. Knowing that I am a part of of something greater. Determined to get going again.

      Peace to you.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Husky1970,

      Thanks so much for your comments.

      Daughters ( and grandchildren) are in 3 different states, so they are not actually an active part of our daily lives.........wish they were.

      But that pup, has turned out to be the best dog that I have had in over 20 years!

      Thanks again for coming by, I do hope to see more of you~~

    • profile image

      Husky1970 6 years ago

      What a beautiful and inspiring hub. So glad that butterfly lit on your hand and enlightened you to the beauty of life and the empty nest. After all, the nest is really never empty. My wife and I have a 34 year old daughter and a 27 year old son who have long ago left our home but are still very, very much a part of our daily lives. So, I can relate to your story. Voted up and beautiful and will return again to read this hub whenever needed. Thanks for sharing!

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Teredpill,

      Thanks..........she was correct.

      We need just to know that sometimes

      "alright" is good enough to get us to

      better days~~

    • tHErEDpILL profile image

      Alem Belton 6 years ago from New York

      This is a beautiful story and you are a beautiful person. I commend you for sharing your personal struggles and life experiences with the rest of the world, that takes courage. I say to you what my loving ex-girlfriend said to me after we broke up, "you'll be alright."

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Annaw......

      Welcome to my hub!

      The most fortunate of us, realize, that

      wisdom and experience are each born of great pain.......

      Sorry, for your loss.

      We might remarry, we may adopt children later in life....

      but one's parent(s) are never replaced. I know this too.

    • annaw profile image

      annaw 6 years ago from North Texas

      Magnificent!!!!! Such passion and at last-understanding.I lost my parents several years ago and my feelings were quite similiar- perhaps I was feeling grief, I don't know. I do know the feeling of loss, whether it be real or perceived.You have so much, you get to see those wonderful girls AND do your own thing. I am happy for you.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Arb.....

      Welcome to my hub.

      There have been many joys as a mother.

      I can't think of a one any better than

      seeing what a kind and tender Mother my

      own daughter is!

      Thanks for coming by. Hope to see

      you again.

    • arb profile image

      arb 6 years ago from oregon

      She is mother, she is wife, she is servant, she is daughter, she is friend, she is lover. She is giving, forever giving. What awesome God created such a being that giving would be her life and so little time for taking. In the end, that life be measured from the giving, I suspect a mothers greatest glow has yet to come.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Pam S.

      That is a classy website you have designed.

      Your own writings reveal that you have a warm

      sense of humor.

      Thank you for visiting my hub~~

      I hope you will come again.

    • profile image

      Pam S. 6 years ago

      It's a journey indeed when empty nest hits home. Sometimes it takes time - I could relate to your description of having a patio and no one to cook for...I had several experiences similar to yours. My response was to start a website! Hope you'll visit - lots of helpful info as you keep movin' forward! http://www.fiftyisthenewforty.net/family/

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Itakins,

      Thanks for coming by for

      the read. New Readers are welcome.

      Glad you liked it.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Karanda,

      Good to see you!

      That's a good way to describe it,

      fighting the current.

      It does make more sense

      to stay flexible.

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 6 years ago from Irl

      Beautifully written article-it struck a chord:)

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      What a wonderful story you have shared with us Ylonda. I can empathise in a way and have had to learn how to deal with the empty nest at an early age and again after my baby died followed not longer after by the early onset of menopause and the depression that accompanied all that transpired before it.

      Butterflies, bees, wasps, birds, wildlife and pets have all encouraged me at times to breathe long enough to see another day. Our purpose continues to shift as each new day arrives and it is up to us to embrace it instead of trying to fight the current.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      FCEtier,

      Wonder how your wife felt as they went away?

      There is a difference between Fathers and Mothers,

      this is only one of them.

      Thanks for coming by, Happy New Year to you.

    • FCEtier profile image

      Chip 6 years ago from Cold Mountain

      My first wife and I had 3 sons. I couldn't wait to get them out on their own, let them grow up and leave us as empty nesters.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Yes, our cups do run over.......

      we only have to get passed the broken handles~~

    • profile image

      a family member 6 years ago

      I felt the empty nest when my two older children

      left home. It was sad and then I enjoyed the freedom.

      We can't see into the future so we don't know what

      life has in store for us. My third child is a special

      needs child sent to us from heaven. He is a blessing

      but is also enormously needy and time consuming. We also

      now have in our middle and older ages an adopted child

      who started to kindergarten this past August. He goes

      to school where I teach. I would not trade the two

      boys for anything but admittedly I do sometimes feel

      over whelmed with their needs on top of a full time

      job and household demands. Our special child will be

      with us for he will always be a child or at least shall

      be childlike. The younger boy has only begone the 13

      year journey of public school. So it is to be that

      my husband and I will not have an empty nest. There will

      not be those idle days with which to renew our bond

      without children. This is not the way I planned it. We

      were to enjoy raising our children and then we were to

      travel and explore. But God had different plans for us

      and the hard earned accomplishment of our special child

      and the humorous grin of our six year old fill our

      hearts with joy. It is not what we planned but our

      cup runneth over.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Bettybarnesb.......

      You are preparing for the transition, already you are smarter than I was. Before experiencing it, I doubted its reality!

      I was so wrong, another lesson learned the hard way.

      Thanks for coming by and offering your support. I wish for you a peaceful transition~~~

      Do you think our grandchildren are a second chance at mothering?

    • bettybarnesb profile image

      bettybarnesb 6 years ago from Bartlett, TN

      Hey onegoodwoman: I can feel your pain. I have 3 daughters too. The oldest got married last year, the middle moved to her own apartment.. not far away but has a great career. The youngest will finish college in May 2011. She tried going to a school out of town but didn't like it. She came home and found a school she does enjoy and she told me last week that she plans to move out fairly soon after graduation. She already has a great job that she works part-time after school and will go full time after graduation. I am so blessed to have wonderful relatinship with my girls but I also realized that they are grown. So I am trying to prepare myself for yet another transition. I am finding new interest in life and through prayer God is already preparing me for what I know will truly come. "An empty nest" God Bless you.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Thoughtforce,

      You are right, in some fashion, if did

      feel somewhat insulting. That description

      never occurred to me!

      Thanks for coming by~~

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      This was such an incredibly good description of how life suddenly stop and change. And it can almost seem like an insult when life outside goes on and on as if nothing has happened! When life is spinning at full speed with children and career there is no way to make time for yourself and it is difficult to maintain your social networks outside the family. An empty house, and much time is such a contrast. Your story shows that there is hope, you can get quality time for yourself once we get use to have time of our own! Oddly, one must constantly learn new things, nothing is obvious! I so enjoy reading this, it is very well written!

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Panguerita,

      What a lovely thing for you to say!

      It is about the growing~~

      Thanks for coming by and supporting me.

    • panguerita profile image

      Rita Hanks 6 years ago from Little Elm, Texas

      I always enjoy reading your hubs, you think deeply and I love that. The only way we can learn and to grow through and out of life's struggles is to think deeply, and then consult the maker of the mind and soul and heart. I love the way he can speak to us and turn us in different directions through dreams, or words from others, or even beautiful butterflies. Be blessed!

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Dave Mathews,

      A single verse from Psalms 46 has

      become my 'go to' in all times

      of disquiet.

      "Be still, and know that I am God"........

      it was a hard lesson learned~

      Thanks for your support!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      onegoodwoman: Thank you for sharing this. God has a way for easing all suffering, if we are patient and willing to let him.

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Judicastro,

      Life really is a journey----

      you can get from point A to point B, but don't

      expect a smooth straight road. There will be valleys, mountains, curves and bumps!

      I am well now.....but it will change again~~

      Be well,

      Ylonda~~

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Tamarajo,

      Thanks for validating! I do hope

      that we can encourage other women

      through our stories.

      The social connections are something

      I had not really built for myself, so

      there was no safety net when it

      was needed.

      We really do continue learning about

      ourselves!

      Glad you came by~

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Creativeone,

      So good to see you again.

      When I through the meds away, I

      allowed God to touch me in a very

      simple way. He refreshed my mind,

      my soul and filled me with hope again.

      Thanks for sharing with me!

    • onegoodwoman profile image
      Author

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      Notturningback,

      Condolences for your heavy losses.

      Reaching out to others was something

      I had to learn, as I had been pretty

      focused on me, mine, and my career.

      The changed me is more loveable!

      Thanks for coming by~`

    • Judicastro profile image

      Judicastro 6 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

      Enjoyed this Yvonne. Thanks for your transparency. A few years ago before my nest truly became empty I found myself alone suddenly. My 2 sons who were still in high school went to calif. To live with my family and go to school there for a year. My daughter left for a month and my husband went to work out of state. I woke the next morning to the echo of my lone voice. I was stunned at how hollow a house can become when those that make it home are no longer there. I didn't realize it until now that God was actually preparing me for what was to actually come a few years down the road. Bless you dear friend and pray you have nestled into to your new nest.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 6 years ago

      I didn't expect the empty nest depression/anxiety either. Our teens gave us a pretty hard time and I anticipated relief as they launched into taking responsibility for their own lives and moving on their own.

      But strangely after the youngest one, who gave us the most trouble, left I couldn't seem to find my place in the world.

      I really identified with when your husband would call he was interrupting you and when he didn't call he was ignoring you. That is how it is.

      enjoyable read.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you onegoodwomen, I can relate to your story about the empty nest and epresseion; I also threw my medication away, but relaized that I realy did need it to pull my self together and get rid of the sadness I was experiencing. The medicine help me overcome my depression and get on with my life. I even got married again. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • noturningback profile image

      noturningback 6 years ago from Edgewater, MD. USA

      Not there yet with my own daughter. Would have had 3 more if not miscarried, not going to second guess why they never came, just a sense of longing and I guess a feeling of being deprived.

      So I found comfort in something I had already been doing, helping others and of course as always happens, at least with me, I have plenty of opportunities and not enough time.

      There were plenty of children at my church, some without a father nearby, now we are both better off. Out of my loss, I found others in need and now we have each benefited.