“I’ll be fine.”
“Nah, I’m ok.”
“I’m just tired.”
“Oh, I’ll get over it.”
“It’ll get easier.”
Sound familiar? Of course it does…you’re a mom. Some days this is the kind of stuff you say, either in a moment of desperation to motivate yourself or as reassurance to a concerned friend. And it’s totally normal. Every now and then you need to step back and tell yourself you can get through the sleepless night, the counter full of dirty bottles, and the current toddler fit over absolutely nothing. Sometimes you need to bitch to a confidante about the raging dumpster fire that is parenthood. Again, totally normal.
“If I crashed into that tree and died that would be okay.”
“I’m stuck with a mistake I can’t fix and there’s no way out.”
“I regret having my child.”
“I hate everything about being a mother.”
Lil bit darker, huh? Sound familiar? These thoughts are hidden behind the I’m okays and smile-and-nods…the thoughts you don’t dare say out loud. Because that would make you a horrible person and an even worse mother. Right? Yup. So you better just dump that truckload of guilt onto your already mounding shitpile of anxiety and stress, put on a happy face and your big girl panties and take care of business. Life doesn’t stop, even if sometimes you welcome the idea. Suck it up, buttercup.
That’s exactly how we allow ourselves, and others, to suffer in silence for so long. Too long. We are spectacular at cover-ups. We disguise our pain and exaggerate our happiness. We compare, we pretend, we post.
Depression looks different to different people, including those on the outside looking in. Especially to the outsiders – chances are they’re clueless. They don’t know. And I’m not talking about strangers here, I’m talking about your spouse, your mother, your best friend…even you. Until you open your mouth and blurt out your concerns, worries, and thoughts there’s a good chance you don’t even know what you’re going through. If you can’t see it, how the hell is anyone else supposed to?
I remember as early on as 8 weeks truly regretting having my son. I wasn’t cut out for this shit. Honestly, I’m still not, but I’m in a better place to deal with it now. I was sleep deprived, overwhelmed, over-milked, and under-showered. But that’s all par for the course, and it’s even perfectly ordinary to be miserable on occasion. Now two years in, I’d petition to change the saying to “motherhood loves company.”
But anyway, none of the exhaustion or mother’s remorse held a candle to my anger. My fuse was so short it was basically non-existent, and despite not being able to lift his head, my son was perfectly capable of taking a freaking blow torch to it.
I was so angry. If he wouldn’t stop crying, I’d go to the garage, close the door, and scream at the top of my lungs. If he wouldn’t sleep, I’d punch a mattress or slam stuff on the changing table. If he threw fit after fit, I’d throw one of his toys across the room. I couldn’t NOT do it. My last bout of shit-loss was slamming the microwave door so hard the light bulb inside it broke. By this time my son was nearly 2.
I’m so thankful my bestie called that day. Not because I would’ve harmed myself or anyone else, but because in that moment I needed a friend who understood me, and she does. I told her how I felt trapped…stuck…how I made a mistake and there was no fixing it…that I hated being a mom. She encouraged me to call my doctor – it wasn’t the first time she had suggested it, but it was the first time I didn’t slough it off saying things would get easier or I was just tired or I was just being a little bitch because every mom deals with their kids’ BS. But being confronted with BS is one thing, how you react to it is quite another. I wasn’t handling it in a healthy way, and that wasn’t the kind of mother I wanted to be.
So I called. The emotion that poured outta me over the next few days was, to put it mildly, like a volcano violently spewing mutated nutria, fireworks, and ASPCA commercials. The realization and acceptance that there was something wrong with me was an odd cocktail of shame, fear, and relief. As unsettling as the situation was, I felt like a weight was being lifted off of me at the same time.
And it’s only gotten better.
If you’re struggling to “deal,” you’re not alone. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last. Help is out there in so many ways, shapes, and forms. Open up and find yours.