When Depression Takes Over

depression heart

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked words for someone else to use in a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My assigned words:       Smurf ~ water ~ joy ~ cold ~ cheese

They were submitted by:   http://stacysewsandschools.wordpress.com

 

She rolled her eyes at me as I made up words to the first tune that popped into my head. She said, “Mom, that is the song from The Smurfs, not a song for my elephant!” It didn’t matter to me. I simply was trying to create a facade of fun. A curtain that covers what I fear can be seen through my eyes. I sing songs and play games with my children so they can’t see the sadness. The deep, dark hole that I am trying to climb out of. The depths of depression have taken over once again. Without warning, without notice, depression seems to find its way into my life with the sole purpose of making everything seem gloomy. That’s not my children’s fault and I would never want them to see that Mommy is not happy and cheerful.

Almost four years into this disease, I have learned to recognize when I am falling into the dark hole. I can feel myself being overcome, yet I am still hesitant to speak the words out loud and discuss it with my husband. I worry that he won’t understand even though he’s been through this whole process with me since I was struck with postpartum depression in 2010. There is shame and embarrassment that goes along with having a mental illness. Although I was raised in a house where mental illness was not a taboo topic, I am still wary of admitting my feelings to people who might be judgmental. But for those who suffer from depression, these feelings will sound familiar:

  • the feeling of simply wanting to close my eyes and hide under the covers until the sadness goes away.
  • the guilt of not being myself for my husband or my kids.
  • the odd sensation of watching the world go on around me, but not feeling as though I’m a part of it.

It’s not a feeling of hating my life. It’s not a feeling of wanting to end my life. It’s simply a temporary gray feeling. I find myself staring off into the distance, out the kitchen window into the cold evening sky. I try to be the best mom I can be without my kids noticing a difference. We make cheese sandwiches, we color with markers, and we even have dance parties. I do this with a fake smile and a partial joy. I am always thankful for my children and I enjoy my time with them, but depression simply takes part of me out of the experience. I feel that my head and my heart are not both fully engaged.

But just as I slipped into the multi-day depression, I will slip right back out of it. I will regain the bounce in my step, the lilt in my voice, and the genuine smile. I stand under the water in the shower and hope that this is the day the clouds begin to part and I start enjoying my life again. It’s been three days and I feel myself coming out of it. The longer I deal with this disease, the more aware of it I am and I can control my sadness a bit. I now know that there is always a time when it will be over and the happiness will return. Back in 2010, I wasn’t aware of this. Those days, my fear was that the rest of my life would be cloaked in a gray veil. So just as we learn to manage any disease, such as diabetes or arthritis, we can learn to manage depression.

Without any visible symptoms, bandages, blemishes, or swelling, it’s easy to brush aside depression as a cop-out, an excuse, or a phony disease. But take it from someone whose father is a psychiatrist, whose mother is a psychologist, and who has found herself battling depression in my adult years, mental illness is not something to be brushed aside and ignored. It is a serious disease that can have serious repercussions.

So I tell my story not to look for pity or to look for comfort. In fact, it’s quite embarrassing to detail the raw emotions for the world to read. But I tell my story because I’m not the only one. But I am a lucky one. I have the resources, the family, and the understanding to seek help and manage this disease. Not all moms are so lucky. There are moms who never seek help and their children make the ultimate sacrifice for that. The mom who drove her car into the ocean in Florida last week is a prime example. I do not know her medical history or what her specific diagnosis would be, but we can all agree that she was suffering from some sort of mental illness. Her family had reached out to authorities before her incident, explaining that they were worried about her mental state and that they felt her kids were in danger. But the law states that because she had not yet harmed them or shown signs of neglect, their hands were tied and they could not intervene. Now I don’t write laws and I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do know that something is wrong with that situation.

There is a lot of help out there for moms with depression, but they must come out of the shadows first. There are resources galore to support, connect, and help heal moms who struggle with mental illness. If you know someone who you are worried about, reach out to them. I know it is scary and can be embarrassing to bring up this topic with a friend or family member, but your conversation really could be the difference between life and death.

Check out all the writers in today’s challange. See what words they got and how they used them. 

10 comments on “When Depression Takes Over

  1. As others have commented, you are a brave soul in expressing your feelings and that is a major step to healing. You touched my heart. I have been there too often but there is always hope for a better tomorrow.

    Raising my children under very difficult circumstances, I learned not to hide my feelings from them. They see through the facade quicker than most adults. You can be honest with them and then let them see that even though you are in ‘pain’, you can still smile. That will speak volumes to them and help them in their rough moments as well.

    Thank you and welcome to this challenge. Looking forward to good posts from you.

  2. Pingback: When Depression Takes Over | The Bloppy Blogger...

  3. Please don’t be embarrassed; your post can help so many. Mental illness is so overlooked in this country. My insurance would pay for a boob job before they would my therapist. Sharing stories of depression’s ebbs and flows is important. It gives those of us who feel like we’re drowning hope that tomorrow might bring relief.
    Thank you for such a thoughtfully written post :)

  4. Thank you for this courageous and well written post! There shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed of, you didn’t choose this! But I feel you choose to fight it, and that makes you so incredibly brave. Just a thought: kids are very perceptive, so they may see through the fake smile?

  5. If I didn’t take my happy pill (Cymbalta) I would be an emotional wreck. I think that issues anxiety and depression are more common than any of us realize and it takes a big person to not only admit they need help, but to discuss it’s challenges.publicly. Kudos to you for sharing:-)

  6. You shouldn’t feel ashamed for dealing with depression. It’s an unfortunate part of you, but that fact that you get up each day and keep going, even through the tough times, is a true testament to yourself and the person you really are.

    Thank you for sharing. It’s nice to see that there’s someone who remembers there’s always a rainbow after it rains.

  7. Thank you so much for this post.
    I also suffer from depression. Sometimes it can feel so lonely. It really helps to know that there are others out there going through the same thing.
    Thank you for doing such a great job with my words.
    HUGS!!!!!

  8. Your story touched my heart. The truth is that mental illness has it’s hands on more lives than we know because we keep it hidden.

    I feel for you, but I have hope for you. You’re brave and strong and supported. What scares me most is the people who see it in the lives of those they love but, possibly because that person’s in a spiral, can’t get them the help they need.

    I was once told that trying to get help for someone who doesn’t want it is like trying to pull a person out of a wheelchair who will not assist in trying to stand. I responded that if that person in that wheelchair was someone I love, I WOULD NOT stop trying. Because the one day you don’t try to stand him could be the one day he’d cooperate.

    Fight your fight. With everything you have. Know that those who love you need to see you stand.

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