Dear mom with depression,
Though I know it doesn’t feel like anyone could truly understand how you feel, I can assure you that I do.
I can assure you that I how it feels to wake in the morning to a feeling of dread and panic. The blackness that sets in when you realize that you don’t know how you can make it through another day of the same routine of a seemingly endless to-do list. Meals to prepare, a house to clean, children to change, bathe, and dress, boo-boo’s to kiss, arguments to mediate, toys to pick up, errands to run, repeat. And somehow after a day filled with massive amounts of stress and never-ending demands, you still have to show love and compassion towards you partner and children.
To the average, healthy parent, that may seem natural. Even stupid of me to say. I’m sure some of you right now are reading this and thinking “She has to make herself show love towards her own family? That’s sickening.”
But I can tell you right now, that if you have ever suffered from depression, be it Postpartum Depression, Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymia, or any other mental illness, you understand that the idea of having to show love to someone can make you feel as if you’re drowning in a bottomless chasm without a chance of escaping.
During the years that well-meaning people remind you fly by far too quickly, you are filled with guilt and sadness for not being able to engulf yourself in every moment like the other mothers you see online and in day-to-day life. Your mind repeats “If only I could be like them” like a sinister mantra day in and day out. If only you could love your children the way they love theirs. If only you could hand prepare every meal from scratch like they do. If only you could have a spotless laundry room like they do. If only you could feel happiness they way they do.
What you’d do to have a genuine smile on your face, just once.
But I know that it feels like a cloak of darkness falls over you come sunrise. I understand how every single screech from your child can make your mind spin in a whirlwind and make your heart pound. I have been there. I know why you find yourself yelling at your children. I understand why you give your children something to occupy them and then hide in the bathroom for a cry each day. I understand why you can hardly bear to leave the house. I know why you are so exhausted and are counting down to bed time each day. And I understand the guilt you carry around for all of those things.
Parenthood is hard.
Parenthood with depression feels impossible.
But despite what you consider your downfalls, I want you to realize this:
Your children love you.
Despite how much they yell, despite how much they fight, despite how much you feel that you are such a failure and you don’t deserve those precious lives. They love you.
They love every single bit of you. Your perfections, your flaws, your talents, your jokes, your smile, your mess. They wouldn’t trade you for the world. And they know that you’re trying.
Sure, it may not seem like it now. It may seem as if they despise your existence, and with your darkened thoughts, who could blame them, right? But I want you to look at yourself. Look at everything you do for those little lives every single day. You’re not a failure.
A failure is someone who gives up. And that’s not you.
You are an absolute warrior fighting through one of the most difficult times in your life, and your children will recognize that.
And if I could sit down for a deep talk with you on a bench at a park, I would hold your hand while that gentle touch brings about the familiar prick of tears in your eyes because you’re not accustomed to being understood. You have been living in a mental solitude for so long, it feels foreign to let in someone who has been in your shoes. That’s okay.
I would remind you that, while I know it doesn’t feel like the case, you’re not alone in this fight. There are so many of us. And we all share the same love for our children shaded by an inability to show it. You’re deeply loved by your partner and your children though you have deemed yourself as unlovable. You are one of the loveliest creatures I’ve ever seen even though you disagree because of your loose skin, dirty hair, and lack of motivation. You are a wonderful mother despite you believing that your imperfections outweigh your strong points.
You are truly wonderful.
If I could only let you see yourself through my eyes, sister.
While my words may not help, and that’s okay, I hope that you can walk away knowing that you are an incredible sister of this planet, and a warrior- mother who is facing a battle that seems to never end. And guess what?
The fact that you’re reading this proves that you’re coming out on top.
Keep on keeping on, Mom. You’re creating some incredible people.
And I’m always up for meeting at a park if you need a chat.