This. This is what a mother looks like battling depression. Outwardly, she’s fine and carries on without missing a beat. She’s charming. Smiles, laughs and makes jokes. She’s responsible. Keeps the house clean, does the laundry and changes every diaper as soon as it’s needed. She keeps schedules on track. Volunteers at her kid’s school. Kisses the boo-boos away and wakes up in the middle of the night to check for monsters making strange noises heard by little ears. However, she keeps a dark secret and is careful to not let anyone know.
Her darkness is back. Her depression has returned.
It’s always the same warning sign; a battle of thoughts. She fights a war within herself.
She begins by questioning the benefit of her presence and starts to demean her role as a wife and mother. She starts to toy with the idea of just giving up. She rationalizes her own death. She thinks she will be doing them a favor. But her mind is playing tricks again. That’s how she knows it’s here. And so, her battle begins.
Maybe they are better off?
No. No they’re not. Don’t think that. They need you and you love them way too much to give up.
They deserve better, though.
Stop. Don’t think that.
Weeks later, her battle continues.
She spends the minutes of alone time staring off into nothing. She’s too mentally tired to think, too physically tired to do anything more than what’s required from her. Yet, she continues like she always does.
She gazes at her reflection in the bathroom mirror and notices her eyes have become dark. No longer bright blue, she stares and blinks away the tears forming in the corners. She doesn’t know when her eyes changed. She doesn’t want to see them like that. She closes them and listens to the cries coming from another room. She avoids looking at her reflection again when she leaves the bathroom. She attends to her child’s cries and ignores her own.
Onward with her private battle.
What is wrong with you? Your life is easy. Everyone you love is alive and healthy. You have a house with food on the table. You’re married to a man that you adore. Other people have much less, suffered much more. People are watching their loved ones fight cancer. People are burying their own children. Why are you like this? Get over it.
Shame and guilt join the battle. Now she’s becoming crippled.
Months pass. Her battle is constant now, and it is relentless.
She becomes aggravated at everything. Her patience is thin. She snaps at the unsuspecting lady in the drive through. She lashes out because everything is hard. She wants to scream and sometimes she does. She gets angry when the kids spill the milk. She starts petty arguments with her husband. Deep down she knows she is losing this battle.
The holidays are around the corner. I need to get birthday invitations out this week. Pull yourself together.
She makes promises to do better, to feel better.
But she can’t.
If only it were that easy— to feel better because of a “mind over matter” mentality. If only willing yourself to get better made you better. If only pleading for this not to happen worked, and it never happened. If only you could pull yourself out of your own darkness. If only you could ignore your depression. But you can’t.
And she can’t.
She gave it a good try, but she can no longer do this on her own. She surrenders to her defeat, but because she is a fighter, her strength guides her to reach out. And then, she speaks up.
She calls her husband even though he just arrived at work. When asked if she’s okay, this time, she doesn’t lie.
When she allows herself such truth, she receives the help she’s fought so hard to deny. Help from her husband. Help from her therapist. Help from medication. She finally understands that depression is not a battle won alone.
Depression is not defeated in isolation. She finally understands that depression lies to you. Tricks you. Depression fights dirty.
But you, my fighter, know this now.
And so does she.
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