It may not come as a surprise to learn that another mother has been hit by this mental burden called depression, but it’s something that is entirely misunderstood by everyone, including the ones who suffer from it. I’m not about to go into the reasons why everyone should sympathize with sad and lost mothers, but I would like to shed some light on what it’s like.
Your life, without children, is the life you’ve always known. You’ve had many features of your life revolve around you in your little bubble; your needs, your wants, your hopes, your dreams, your career, your relationships. Everything you’ve ever done has been to benefit you, even when it comes to being compassionate or completing selfless acts.
Even if you are an entirely unselfish person, you are still living your life on your own terms, worrying – in the long run – about yourself and the people you love. If a relationship or job brings you down, you simply plan an escape from it in order to be a happier and healthier version of yourself, chalking it up to a learning experience.
Children make your personal bubble no longer a sole focus. Each child becomes a new bubble to absorb and carry upon your shoulders, adding additional pressure, worry, and responsibility.
While other relationships are notably important to us – spouses, parents, siblings, friends – their bubbles remain their own, and they are a mere feature in ours. Children, on the other hand, start out with a very tiny bubble that will continue to grow under our supervision until they can carry the weight of it on their own.
When a woman has children, everything that was in her own bubble expands beyond its limit, increasingly becoming stretched to a point that even the smallest of additions can cause it to burst. We juggle and balance and do our best to repair even the tiniest of holes and pretend that it’s not too much weight to carry, but we eventually run out of tape and glue and the bubble pops, and so goes our strength.
When the bubbles pop and everything in them lay scattered at our feet, we feel awful for not being strong enough to support it all. We feel empty and lost without the bubble and everything it contained, and so we also feel vulnerable and detached because we have nothing to cling to.
Our relationships with our loved ones become distant and any bond we felt with our babies are more difficult to locate, as it was the newest and smallest part of our bubble.
The guilt of crumbling and being unable to pick up the pieces of ourselves is what ultimately labels our dull feeling of being depressed. We have become a failure in our own lives, and so we feel like we’re failures as mothers, unable to focus on anything but overcompensating and offsetting the exhaustion and anxiety that cripples us in trying to find our old selves while also raising very small, dependant humans.
We feel paranoid and scared and anxious and completely derailed because we have lost touch with ourselves in trying to manage very fragile entities, like the individual bubbles of other people. We can’t find anything we used to enjoy, because it’s all part of the mess that lay at our feet.
As a mother, we’re constantly told what to do and how to do it by mothers before us and doctors who monitor every milestone. Every answer we seek is given to us by someone else, leaving us to constantly question ourselves as a competent parent. In trying to do right by our children, we end up failing. This adds even more doubt and paranoia to our spiralling world and makes us want to escape it all.
We pray for a giant reset button to correct the mess because we’ve realized that we can’t do it ourselves.
Being a good mom means having your shit together.
I was once prescribed medication to simply seal the shit in tupperware and create new and artificial happiness, when other avenues were exhausted and didn’t quite cut it.
The best thing I’ve realized in coming to terms with depression and admitting it to myself is that if you are motivated enough to get out of your pile of shit, there are always people who will grab your excrement-covered hands and heave you up to tackle it one piece at a time.
Fill yourself with a community who will not only help fill your bubbles with air and life, but will also create a new foundation for your bubbles to sit upon; one that is rooted in cement and fastened with the best adhesive you can get – love.