I know I haven’t been writing much. I’ve been in a consuming phase, spending a lot of time reading as I make my way through my third pregnancy and prepare for birth and a growing family. When I’m focused on taking information in, I don’t find a lot of energy or space for creating.
But this week, I feel I need to write. I need to share how worried I am for so many of us. In the past week, I’ve had heartbreaking conversations with no less than six different women who are suffering deeply from depression right now. In one week. Women from all over the country, from all different parts of my life. These women are hurting. They are struggling. They are crying out for help.
“I’m mad at the world. I feel so worthless.”
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to do anything. Just cooking dinner is too hard.”
“My husband doesn’t get it. He just wants me to get happy but I don’t know how.”
“I’m terrified of how this is affecting my kids. I know this is affecting my kids.”
“How am I supposed to be a good mom when I can’t even function?”
“I get so angry. I’m irritable all the time. No matter how hard I try, the littlest things send me spinning.”
“I need help, but I don’t even know where to start… or where to find the time, money, or energy.”
I knew some of these women struggled with depression, but others I had no idea. These women are all different. Their stories are unique. They are mothers of young children and older children, single moms and married moms, step mothers, women who work outside of the home and those who do not. Some have children with unique needs. Some have high-stress jobs. For some their marriage is holding them together, and for others their marriage is another victim of their illness.
Their stories are all so different, and yet they find themselves in this black hole I know all too well. I’ve shared parts of my journey with depression before, though it has been quite some time since I’ve written about it. I haven’t meant to avoid the subject. The silence is most definitely not because I’m cured. It’s not because I don’t suffer anymore. It’s probably more because I felt like I might be writing the same things over and over. I thought people would tire of hearing my depressing depression story. I haven’t been writing about depression because I am not an inspiring success story, an “I kicked depression’s ass” story. I am the story of a woman who lives with depression daily. Some days it controls me. Other days I control it. But it never goes away. I see how it affects my husband and my marriage. I see how it affects my parenting and my children. I watch in horror as my son struggles with similar feelings, and I actively worry about the effects of my depression on my unborn baby (which, by the way, only brings more depression and anxiety).
This week, I’ve been reminded that I am not alone. Clearly, I am very much not alone. Sometimes that’s a relief, but honestly, after a week like this, after listening to the raw and painful struggles of six fabulous women, I wish I was alone. I wish it was just me, because listening to their stories and being able to say “me too” isn’t enough. Listening to their hopelessness and fear and being unable to fix it is heartbreaking and infuriating. Of course, there are things we can do to fight depression, help depression, and maybe decrease depression, but they are not easy fixes. Medication, counseling, diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, herbs, essential oils, and lifestyle changes all can help in varying ways for varied people. But there are no easy answers. It’s not a one step fix. It’s a frustrating process of trial and error. When depression has knocked the wind out of you so that just cooking dinner is an impossible task, trying to fix yourself is an even more daunting one.
So this is me saying, dear mom who is depressed, you are not alone and I am not alone, but dammit I wish this wasn’t such a common experience. I’m so worried for those of us living like this. But, please do not be ashamed. Please don’t hide the hurt. What you’re feeling is real. The pain, the hurt, the sadness, the
fatigue exhaustion, the anger, the irritability, the hopelessness. Whatever your depression feels like (because it is different for all of us and it can be so different day to day) is real. It’s not real in that it defines you, because you are not these feelings, you are so much more. But the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual effects of this illness are not all in your head. They are real. The way they feel like they are sucking the life out of you little by little, or sometimes in one giant woosh… it’s not just you, it’s not in your head.
I don’t have any dazzling advice or steps to recovery. I just have my sympathy and compassion. I’m still here. I still have depression. I’ll keep writing, and I’ll keep listening.
Here are some things (recent and older) around the internet that have touched my heart:
Strange and Beautiful from the Bloggess
Nest Comic This image has circulated all over social media, but I didn’t get permission and don’t want to share it here without that permission. But this is one I want everyone who loves someone with depression to see. When there’s nothing else you can do, this means so much.
Here is the face of a mom with depression from Honest Mom
To Write Love on Her Arms In their words they are “a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide”. I love their blog, instagram, and their store. I especially love some of their shirts, like this one I got for a friend recently.