I liked the excuses... There's a lot going on. We're renovating. Life has been thrown into chaos. I have a toddler. I'm just having a bad day. It's just a bad week.
In truth, it was a bad year.
Looking back now, I can see where and when it all began, and I can see where it ended too.
Christmas 2009. We went away for the holidays, just for a few days. My daughter was fifteen months old and yes, she was hard work, but no harder than she'd ever been, no harder than any other child. No different to how a child should be.
To me, that marked the time something clicked in my mind. I'd suspected it for a while, but right then it became real. That being a mother wasn't all sweetness, that it was going to take some work, that I wasn't always going to do things easily and naturally the way I had when she was a baby. And that, despite all our talk, being a mother and being a father are two different things, loaded with different expectations and responsibilities.
While my husband packed up at the end of that trip, I watched our daughter. And I cried and cried. All the way home, I yelled at my husband and I cried.
I felt trapped.
By the time we left, 2010 was just beginning, and I spent the rest of that year feeling the same.
I cried every day of that year. I spent hours at a time shut in my bedroom, just wanting to sleep or lie down. No energy. I'd put things against the door so that my daughter couldn't come in, and I'd lie there and listen to her calling for me, banging against the door screaming for her mum.
I didn't want to hurt myself and I didn't want to hurt my little girl. I just wanted to run. Shutting myself in a room was the only way I could physically stop myself from running out the front door.
I couldn't handle anything out of the ordinary. One conversation about a decision for the house would have me in bed with a migraine. I yelled and I snapped, and I made my husband make all the decisions, because my mind couldn't handle one more thought. I cried.
I dreamt of running away. Of freedom.
I thought life had turned on me, that I was forced to be somewhere I didn't want to be. I thought I had no control over anything.
And I felt self-indulgent. I had a loving husband, a beautiful daughter, family and friends who love me, a nice house being improved, a new direction in life. There were terrible things happening to others in the world, and I had everything.
But the negativity. I couldn't shake this cloud hanging over me, this feeling of being useless and helpless. The complete lack of joy.
And then came the end of the year. We went away on holidays again, to the same place, did the same things. I dreaded going, picturing the year before and knowing by then, that was the place it all seemed to begin. But we went anyway.
I found I had come full circle. Life hadn't changed, but that thing that clicked in my mind clicked back again.
As suddenly as that, I knew. I knew I was free. I knew I had made decisions to be where I was, and I knew I was happy with those decisions. I knew I had control, and choices.
Looking back now, I can't label it. Was it depression? Was it just a bad time? Was it me being melodramatic? Was it that it was a year of change? Me, who had always thought of herself as a career woman, staying at home? Us renovating?
I don't know. But it wasn't right.
Should I have talked to someone about it? That, I can answer. To that, I can say with absolute certainty: yes. But there was - and is - always an excuse. I feel better today. It was nothing. Life is good, I have everything. It was just a bad day. I'm okay now.
Now I understand how easy it is for those negative thoughts to turn bad, to become constant. I've learnt that yes, being a mother is different to being a father, but rather than feeling the weight of that responsibility I once again feel privileged. (Most of the time.)
I remember how life was before that year. I feel like that again. That life is good, there is promise and joy and laughter and happiness. The feeling of being ready for anything it throws at me. The knowledge that a bad day is okay, but it doesn't make me unhappy or remove all hope from my mind.
Life is good.
And happiness isn't dependent on what's happening around you (within reason). It comes from somewhere else entirely.