In June 2017, Sarah Loucks of Merced, California, was having a normal day at home doing dishes. Then she suddenly stopped.
“My emotions turned to black, every ounce of energy escaped and where my soul had been was a vacant void,” she wrote for The Mighty.
If you are wondering the reason behind this, there was no simple answer. Loucks was having a depressive episode, but there was absolutely no trigger.
These episodes—which come in all different forms—stem from her bipolar disorder. Some only last a few hours but others last a few months. While some episodes are manageable, others bring Loucks such intense pain she loses her voice from crying so much.
This particular incident was bad, although Loucks noted that it wasn’t the worst she’s ever felt.
As she stood there, she knew her then 4-year-old son was expecting lunch. But she felt herself deflating like a balloon pricked by a needle. It wouldn’t be long before she was incapacitated completely.
Loucks usually hides her depression from her three children, so she took them to her parents’ house where they could be taken care of for a few hours.
When she returned home, she felt her pain getting worse and went to the couch, calling her husband, Michael Mayfield, for help—while he was at work.
He asked if she needed him to come home. Loucks responded that she didn’t want him to miss work. Mayfield had a good employer though, who gave him plenty of sick and vacation time to allow him to go home when his wife needed it.
“My job would rather me stay home than come to work and operate my company truck when my mind is not 100 percent on the job,” Mayfield told Humanity.
Thanks to his understanding employer, he’s been able to be there for his wife on many occasions.
The Battle in the Bed
When Mayfield came home, he was saddened but not surprised to see his wife in the exact same spot that she had called from, seemingly unable to get up.
Loucks didn’t greet him; she merely walked away from the couch and climbed into her bed where she stayed for hours.
She was fighting a war within her own mind. She kept insulting and belittling herself, attacking her own weaknesses, feeling pathetic.
As this was happening, Mayfield took care of the kids. He helped them with homework, cooked dinner, played games, and watched TV with them.
Loucks wanted to get up and join them but simply couldn’t. Mayfield made sure not to leave her out completely, though.
“I would check on Sarah every so often; she would not even poke her head out of the covers,” Mayfield said. “This hurt me to see her like this.”
Still, he kept trying. Sometimes he’d bring Loucks food and drink to comfort her, although she rarely felt like partaking.
“When I am severely depressed, I usually don’t eat,” Loucks told Humanity. “I also don’t drink. I have no desire for food or water.”
Loucks stayed in the same spot for days, not getting up to change her clothes or brush her teeth—even using the toilet was rare. Instead her days were spent listening to that same internal argument play out over and over again.
Eventually though, she worked up the energy to get up, and what she saw when she got into the hallway made her feel so special.
It was around 6 in the morning when Loucks decided to get up for a cup of water. It was still fairly dark out, but the sun was rising and soon both the sky and the woman’s spirits would brighten.
As she walked out, she saw tiny yellow squares all over the walls. They were sticky notes, and each one had a special message written specifically for her.
There were several, all with different encouraging messages like “You are wanted,” “You are not a burden,” and “I love you.”
Reading these lovely messages, Loucks began to cry and when Mayfield stepped into the hallway, revealing that this was something he had planned, she became even more emotional.
According to Mayfield, the idea behind the sticky notes came from a video he had seen a few days prior to his wife’s depressive episode. The video was a list of things to say to someone struggling with depression—but her husband wanted to take it one step further.
“Out of nowhere [I had] an idea … I could write these encouraging things on the mirror in her bathroom! When that did not work out and I figured out the mirror was too small to fit what I wanted to say to her, I had another idea, the Post-it notes,” he said.
This wasn’t the first time Mayfield had written Loucks messages when she felt depressed. In fact, his initial bathroom mirror idea came about because he had previously found success writing his wife poems on the mirror.
Still, the sticky notes had far more profound of an impact than that. Loucks ended up saving 20 of her favorite notes and taping them to a wall next to her, so they would be the first things she saw both when she woke up and went to bed.
“I did not expect the reaction she had; I just thought it was something nice to do and these are things she needed to hear,” Mayfield said.
Those sticky notes are still on Loucks’s wall over a year later and serve as an inspiration for her to keep going.
Because of these kinds of small gestures performed by her loved ones, she felt compelled to release a book chronicling her experience with mental illness called “My Bucket Has Holes: Living with Bipolar II” in 2016.
Her version of the sticky note story will appear in the book’s 2018 sequel called “Patching The Holes.”
One only needs to look at her Amazon reviews to see that by telling these stories in her heartfelt, brave, and honest words, she’s helping many others through their own journeys with depression and bipolar.
Do you have any inspiring stories you’d like to share? E-mail me at [email protected]