Even though I am really open on here, I barely talk about one thing that I deal with on an almost daily basis... depression. Back in 2014, I published a post about my battle, but after that, I had stayed quiet. I felt as if I actually opened myself up and talked about it, then the wrong person was going to see it, and Indiana DCS was going to show up at my door and deem me an unfit parent. In the back of my mind, the fear still sits there to this day. But I really hope that will never happen, because I do have a rather good support system. I have my husband, who is understanding, loving, and wonderful, my parents, my Grandmother, and even my hubby's side of the family. I have people to lean on, and when I am going through an "episode," I do get support in taking care of my son.
In the light of May being Mental Health Awareness month, I want to let you guys in. I want to tell you guys how having depression while being a mom feels. And I am hoping that someone, like me, will read it, and know that they are NOT alone.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the simple definition of depression (noun) is
:: a state of feeling sad
:: a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way
When people think of depression, they automatically think that the person wants to off themselves. And that is not the case. Honestly, if a person is talking about suicide, that means they are trying to reach out and get some help. People who commit suicide don't talk, they just do. I have only thought of suicide once- when I was a teenager. Since having my son, the thought of leaving him and not being there for the most important days of his life scares me. It brings tears to my eyes just knowing that he would be crying out for me and I wouldn't be there. I wouldn't be there because I decided to be selfish.
I don't have depression all the time. Well, let me rephrase- yes, the depression is always there, like an irritating booger, but the episodes come sporadically. There is no set amount of time between my episodes, but I can usually feel them coming on. And the sequence of events is always the same.
At first, I will just start feeling tired, blue, and my headaches start. I want to sleep more, and feel like I just can't catch up or wake up refreshed. I wake up multiple times a night. I feel like nothing is going right, I'm super stressed, and I hate my body. I will tell myself that I am too fat for my clothes, and feel that I never have anything to wear. This will go on for a bit, and at that point, I can try to pull myself out of "the funk". But if I don't, it develops into a full blown episode.
A full blown depression episode is like being afraid of everything and wanting to cry because of it. For me, my fear develops into an overwhelming urge to run away. To just pack everything and leave. But the mom part of me, refuses to let me do it. And every time I think about it (leaving), I break down and cry. It's like having a concrete cinder block on my chest and I can't breathe. My undiagnosed anxiety kicks in high gear, and I feel like there is never enough time to do anything. I feel like a failure and overwhelmed with emotions- think of pregnancy hormones multiplied by 100. I experience being sad, mad, and stressed in just a few minutes.
I can't focus at work, I don't want to go shopping, put on makeup, clean my house, actually leave my house, or even blog; I'm not interested in sex and I want to cry all the time. I walk around feeling like I am going to cry. And it feels like I have a knife in my heart, because I feel as if I am a horrible mother and wife. Most times, while my son watches TV, I lay on the bathroom floor quietly sobbing, feeling like I am weak and that I am a horrible mother. If he asks what's wrong, I usually tell him that "mommy doesn't feel good". Of course, if he asks me for something to eat or drink, I pull myself off the cold floor and cater to him. Then it's back to the floor. Sometimes the dog lays with me, sometimes not. If my husband is home, he will take over parenting duties, and I will sleep in the bed. If not, and I know that the episode is getting worse- I will see if my parent's can watch my son. They are usually easy going about it. Above all, my focus is on my son, and trying my best not to worry him. My focus is trying to deal with the overwhelming sadness and feelings of inadequacy, while not setting off any alarms within my son. I try to appear normal.
I try and appear normal, and deal with what's going on. I will tell everyone that I am fine.
The crying and feeling like a failure last the duration of the episode, but when I am actually coming out of one, the crying is the last to go. Coming out of an episode feels like feeling the sun shinning on my face. My head starts to clear, and I start to smile. I can't tell you what actually brings me back into the light, but I know that it has to deal with my husband and my son. That my son's love somehow brings me back. That my overwhelming need to provide for him as his mother trumps my feelings of inadequacy. My husband will "make" me leave the house. He will pester me to get out of bed, to get out of the house and go grocery shopping, or spend time with the two of them.
Most people reading this will wonder if I am on medication, and believe it or not, I am not. I was a teenager when I was diagnosed, and put on the ever so lovely, Prozac. Well, the generic form anyways. I hated it right off the bat, and for several years, my Mom and my doctor tried to find a medication that didn't make me feel suicidal. I finally got tired of being a guinea pig, and decided to try the medicine-free way.
After my son was born, I went to my family doctor, and she offered me medication. I refused. She made me promise that if the depression ever got worse, or I started having suicidal thoughts, I would return, and agree to medication. I said ok. I haven't gotten to the point of having suicidal thoughts- only an overwhelming feeling of sadness. And I haven't self medicated yet either.
Having depression AND being a mom, for lack of a better term, blows. It's like I am at war with myself. Constantly. But on the other hand, it's kind of bittersweet. My responsibilities as a mom tend to trump my overwhelming need to crawl into a hole and stay there for awhile. They also will bring me back into the light. And for that, I am thankful.
If you have depression and are a mom, remember that you are not alone. That what you are going through won't last forever. That you are worth loving. That you are enough.
That there are resources out there to help you....
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Always say yes to the wine.