When I started this blog a year and a half ago, my hope was that it would be used to encourage moms around the world. Last week, I got a taste of how that can happen. I wrote a post in a coffee shop on a rainy afternoon while my mom watched the kids. I wasn’t in a good place. I wrote To The Mom Of A Toddler And A Baby because I felt alone. I felt like no one around me understood what I was going through. I wrote that post from a really vulnerable spot, and when I published it I wondered if anyone would be able to relate. As it turned out, there was a reason those words needed to pour out of my heart. Thousands and thousands of reasons actually. In the past week over 200,000 people have read those words, and that number continues to climb. The point is, I believe that sometimes we go through hard things in life so that we can be bonded to each other. They happen so that we realize that we’re not alone in this crazy world.
The post I’m about to write has been one that I’ve felt a strong pull to share. But to be honest, I don’t want to. Maybe it’s because admitting that you struggle with depression feels like you’re opening a huge can of worms. It feels like you’re hanging out your dirty laundry not only for everyone to see, but for everyone to give their opinion about how you should deal with it. It feels like you’re admitting that you’re weak, like you’re less qualified to be a person. It exposes you to feeling paralyzed by the stigma that looms overhead whenever you hear the words “mental illness”.
Or maybe I don’t want to share my struggle because the only thing worse than depression itself is being pitied because you have it. For me, that’s a huge reason. It’s much easier to keep it to myself. To hole up and become a hermit and pretend it isn’t there. Except I can’t pretend it isn’t there.
Maybe the hardest part about all of this is that it’s tough to feel understood. Because the truth is, unless you’ve been depressed yourself, as hard as you try and want to understand it, you just can’t.
Those of us who struggle most likely keep the struggle close to us. Not because we want to, but because it’s easiest. We don’t want to explain and talk for hours about how we’re really doing. We just want to feel normal. We want to do ordinary things and feel like ourselves.
All that to say, talking about this doesn’t feel natural. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. But today I’m doing it. I’m sharing where I’m at. I’m sharing because I want to be honest with you. When you read my blog, I don’t want you to ever get a false idea of who I am. I’m not the mom who has it all together. I’m not the mom who has the perfect life. Just like anyone else, I have struggles. A big one being depression.
It started to show its ugly face shortly after I had my twins. You can read more about my journey with postpartum depression here. I eventually got on Zoloft but shortly before I got pregnant with baby number four I weaned myself off. I made the personal choice to stay off medicine while I’m pregnant, which has made the daily battle so real and fresh again. Exercise has been my main happy drug, so I’m thankful I’ve been able to remain active throughout this pregnancy. I’m counting down the weeks until I have this sweet baby so that I can reevaluate if/when I need to go on medication again. This time around, I won’t be scared or ashamed if I need to take something. I’m thankful for modern medicine and the ability it has to get those chemicals in my brain back on balance.
When depression creeps into motherhood, it simply can’t stay. I can’t let it stay. I can’t let it steal the joy I feel when I spend precious moments with my kids. I won’t let it make me feel like less of a mom, or less of a wife. I won’t let it make me feel inferior. I won’t let it isolate me from the people I love the most. I won’t let it distract me from all the blessings I’ve been given. I won’t let it win.
Neither should you. If you think you might be struggling with depression, I beg you to do something about it. Whether it’s therapy, exercise, medication, or something else, please reach out and get the help you need. Don’t let it fester. Don’t let it isolate you. Don’t let it become all you think about. The gray cloud that’s hanging over you CAN be lifted, but you’re going to have to take the first step.
You are not alone, friend. I’m battling with you. I know what you’re feeling is so real, so raw, so suffocating. I know you want to get out, but you can’t. I’m cheering you on as you get through some of the darkest days of your life. It breaks my heart to think of you sitting there at home feeling so alone even when there are people around, knowing exactly how horrifying that is. If I was there, I’d give you a big hug. I wouldn’t pry you for information, but I’d reassure you that it’s going to be okay. I’d cry with you. I’d pray for you. I’d tell you over and over again that you WILL get through to the other side. There is hope, sweet friend. Let’s reach for it together.
This topic isn’t one we often see shared in our news feeds or pictured on Instagram. This is the tough stuff that we’d prefer to leave out of the highlight reel. But what if we could change that? What if we could set aside our pride and normalize it? What if we could acknowledge that this is a thing we can walk through and overcome without shame? What if we could end up helping thousands and thousands of people?
Will you join me in offering hope to those who need to hear it? Whether you’re going through it yourself or know someone who is, maybe we’re all connected to the topic so we can be bonded together, and so that we can remember that we’re never alone in our struggles.
I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).