I have three kids. With each child, I was concerned I would develop postpartum depression. Thankfully, I didn’t. I felt blue for a couple of weeks, but eventually, the sadness began to lift.
But I know that isn’t true for so many moms. I know that the sadness often lingers for much longer than two or three weeks. I also know that many women struggle with depression long after the baby arrives. Depression doesn’t discriminate. It can set out to destroy anyone’s life at any point in time.
And although I have never suffered from severe depression, I have certainly had moments of depression throughout my life. When I was about 23, I remember feeling down a lot. At first, it seemed normal, but I became concerned when weeks turned into months.
My sadness started to disrupt my sleep–something that rarely happens to me–and I began taking over the counter sleeping aids. In part, I took the pills to help me sleep better, but I also took them because it helped me fall into such a deep sleep that I didn’t have to think about my problems. I knew I was on a slippery slope so I decided to leave the pills alone.
A few years later, my mom shared some of her personal struggles and how she was feeling with me. I knew she was depressed. I suggested therapy or counseling, and she declined. Okay, let me stop acting like she was polite about it. She was actually pissed off at my suggestion.
Why the hell would I tell some stranger my business?
For a second I forgot that my mom was a very private Caribbean woman in her early sixties. As far as she was concerned, therapy was not happening.
But without the help she needed, everything caught up with her. And when I say everything, I mean everything. She tried to take her own life a year after I had my first child. I was 31 and she was 66.
I would love to tell you I understood right away, but I didn’t. I was hurt. I was sad. I was confused. And frankly, I wanted my mom back. Surely the lady that raised me is not the one trying to take her life. This must be someone else, right?
But I eventually realized that the way my mom felt had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t about me at all. Not even a little bit.
And it wasn’t even about her not wanting to be here. It was about her wanting the pain to stop.
Once I got that, I started to think about all the things women do daily to mask their true feelings and just push through life. I thought about all the times my mom must have done that over the years. I thought about the few times I did the very same thing.
And then it all became crystal clear; we have to get help when we need help or the world comes crashing down on us.
It’s that simple.
And there is no way to really escape the crash. It’s just a matter of how quickly the crash will occur and what it will look like.
If you are a mom and you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, confused, and discouraged, please know that you are not alone. Even if you feel broken and isolated, you are NOT alone. There are people out there who care. Your kids care. Your friends care. I care.
And even if it feels like the darkness won’t lift, you have to hold on to hope. The darkness can lift. It may not happen quickly, and you may need a tribe to help you get to the light, but you can get to the light. You can restore some sense of joy in your life. You can become who you want to be. You can dig your way out.
And because I don’t know your pain or your personal story, I can’t claim to know how long it will take for you to leave this dark place. But I can tell you that if you are alive, hope does exist. Every breath you take is a sign of hope.
So please don’t settle in this dark place of discouragement. Please don’t believe those horrible thoughts that pop into your head about what kind of woman or mom or wife you are. Those thoughts are not the truth. Those thoughts are there to destroy you.
Don’t let them.
There is more for you and your children if you can grab on to hope and believe that better days are possible. Even if the pain seems to want to eat your alive, you can survive this. You can learn how to enjoy life again.
And although your kids and family and friends are incredible reasons for you to want to find joy, remember that is really about living YOUR best life. This is about dealing with your personal darkness. This is about determining how to push through your pain.
And yes, your kids need you. Your loved ones need you. Even if you don’t think they do, trust me when I say that they do. But I want you to get the help you need so that you can see the value you add to the world just by being who you are. I want you to understand why you matter so much.
So please hang in there. The tears and the pain won’t be with you forever. With the right support and resources, you will find your way to the light. I am sure of it.
And if you need some help, I am here. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I will help you find the answers you need because I care.
Are you considering suicide? If so, please click here to get help. You are NOT alone.
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