Have you ever struggled with depression? Perhaps you’re in a season now where life feels bleak and hopeless. I’ve been there, and I can tell you there is hope for the mom who feels depressed.
Guest post by Jessica of “Smartter” Each Day
Have you ever struggled with depression? Perhaps you’re in a season now where life feels bleak and hopeless.
I never thought of myself as someone who’d feel depressed. I’m usually happy, busy, and enjoying life in one way or another.
Yet I did go through a very difficult time. If you can relate, you’d agree that depression and anxiety are two of the most horrible, isolating, agonizing things someone can deal with.
You feel so alone. No one gets it. Life drags on. Everyday joy and peace is gone. You feel exhausted, and even sick. It feels like things will never get better.
If you are battling depression, my heart goes out to you.
I’m not a counselor. I’m not a therapist, or a doctor, or even an expert. Me? I’m just a plain old mom — a mom who has spent my share of nap times crumpled on the floor, crying over nothing and everything, wondering what in the world has happened to me.
I can’t tell you the magic cure. I can’t offer all the clinical steps to recovery. But I’ve been there, and I can tell you what I’ve learned.
Many, many moms have battled depression at some point.
It feels like you’re the only one, doesn’t it? Those neighbors, those ladies from church, those people on Facebook…they all seem to have it together, don’t they? You wonder how you’re the only one who’s such a wreck. Well, here’s a little secret…You’re not the only one. I promise you’re not.
Have you heard the saying that’s been floating around…Don’t compare your “behind the scenes” to somebody else’s highlight reel?
You don’t know their stories. You can’t possibly see their futures. And if you did, or you could…you’d be surprised. We all have something.
Take a deep breath. You’re not the only one.
Depression can feel like so many things.
- It can feel like anxiety.
- It can feel like you’re so tired, you could sleep forever.
- It can feel like you just can’t cry
- It can feel like hypochondria, that you’re dying of everything. (Oh, don’t laugh! I’ve been there!)
- It can feel like you just can’t make oatmeal one more morning.
Sometimes there are hidden causes for depression.
For me, depression was actually a result of anxiety that had spiraled completely out of control. Sometimes hormonal irregularities or medications can cause depression (the birth control pill was horrible for me!)
And can I tell you another one? Lack of sleep causes depression.
Sweet mom of little ones, when you battle those endless days and endless nights, and life is such a fog that you can’t tell which side is up…depression comes so easily. If it seems like a cop-out answer, it’s not! My mom always reminds me that sleep deprivation is a military torture technique for a reason! Maybe your life’s circumstances have been very difficult. Maybe your mental strength is just gone.
No need to add guilt — that ever-present “Mommy guilt” — to the load of depression.
It’s not your fault, sweet friend.
Things might have to get worse before they get better.
It hurts to heal. It hurts to admit you have a problem. It hurts to ask for help, to go see a doctor or a counselor. It’s embarrassing to do what it takes to get better.
I remember my turning point.
I was on the phone with my mom, crying about something. She’s never yelled at me. She is never harsh. But she had had enough. Jessica, I’m so sorry your life is so awful! You have two wonderful little boys, and a great husband and a great life, and I’m just sorry you’re so miserable! I have no idea what to say to you anymore.
Somehow seeing her so frustrated — seeing how she saw me — it all clicked. I knew right that moment that I needed (and wanted) help. I didn’t care what it cost me. I didn’t care who I had to talk to. I didn’t care if I had to take medicine, or see a counselor, or what I had to do. I needed help.
And don’t worry. You will get better.
In the pit of anxiety or depression, it feels like you will never be happy again. Your old self seems so long-gone and far away.
I’m here to tell you, there is hope.
I thought I’d never get better, and now, it’s a distant shadow. Praise the Lord, I’m my old self again.
You’ll come out of this, too.
I’d like to think that if I start feeling depressed again, I’ll do it differently next time. I’d like to think…
- I’ll get help sooner. I’ll see my doctor, and start going to a counselor.
- I won’t add guilt to the load. I’ll remind myself that everyone struggles with something.
- I’ll begin exercising…even though it will feel like a burden. Because it helps. It really does.
- I’ll try to find something to get excited about. It might be a birthday party, a new wardrobe, an event I’m planning, someone to help.
- I’ll remember that motherhood is really, really hard — and cut myself some slack if I have difficult days (or months).
- I’ll search for the good in the struggle. Because there is a blessing to be found.
Have you struggled with depression? What other help would you offer to someone who’s struggling?
If you are battling postpartum depression in particular, here are some posts just for you:
Jessica Smartt is a former English teacher, husband to a Mr. Fix-It-All, and a mom of two boys with a girl on the way! She is a resident expert on anxiety, can make 1001 allergy-friendly meals, and loves finding humor in everyday life. You find her at “Smartter” Each Day.