There has been much publicized about postpartum depression and the baby blues (two different things by the way) but not much about what I have deemed, “Mom Depression.” First, let me say, while I have clocked many hours as a counselor and mentor, I am not a psychologist. I am speaking as a woman and a mom who personally knows the ongoing fight with depression and has counseled others through theirs. Bare minimum, prayerfully this will start a dialogue and further build a community of supportive, empowered mothers.
Imagine a mom. Time is passing her by and she is still not where she wants to be professionally. She feels unsupported and stuck in a monotonous relationship. Financially, she is barely making ends meet. Children have an endless barrage of needs and even more wants. Even though she is only one person, they push and push and push as though 12 people are there to help. There is no time to get-away and recharge. Friends seem consumed by their own affairs to notice her weight. She is doing her best to balance everyone’s expectation but truth be told, just one misstep or tragedy and the whole thing will collapse of her. The period directly between this place and the point where she finally decides to change her circumstance is typically the place where Mom Depression resides.
I have always been a determined woman. Maybe it is the Taurus in me, but I have trouble comprehending the word “Can’t.” Like, for real. What does that mean? Put that drive and some unrealized goals on top of mommy duties, many requirements for my time and attention, adding a dash of my typical need to please and you have a nice recipe for Mom Depression. The “can’ts” I was working so hard to conquer were consuming me. One rare time I did not have my daughter in the car with me, I drove off an interstate exit ramp. It had a steep elevation before taking a turn downward. I slowed down approaching its height. I just wanted keep going straight and not make the turn. I seriously contemplated it until a blaring car horn snapped me back to my driving duties. I was depressed and suicidal and felt completely alone. You are not.
Depression does not just hit moms within the 18 months after they have given birth or within the few years after struck with an empty nest and nothing to do but think. There is potential throughout the entire journey of motherhood. According to Psychology Today, depression is an “illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain” for that mom living through it. It goes on to say that depression “is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years.”
Below is a list of symptoms. Someone could have all, several, or some symptoms. At any point in life, we may have one or two for many reasons. That does not mean you are depressed. My goal is not to convince you to self-diagnose and identify yourself as having depression. To not live under that cloud is a blessing. But if you think you are, take the first step to change. Maybe a new fitness routine or nutrition plan, a change of scenery, disconnecting from the things that are not feeding you, talking to a counselor, or maybe there is medicinal help for need. What helps for one may not be the solution for another. Please do not think this is just the way it is because of some of the choices you made, particularly if you are a single or divorced mom. There is so much more for you on the other side of those dark clouds. It’s time to reclaim your life.
List of symptoms as found on Psychology Today
- Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Insomnia, early morning awakening or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight loss, or overeating and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain