When Depression Creeps Into Motherhood

IMG_2210When 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.

XOXO,

Amber

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).

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Comments

  1. Christy says

    Thank you, just thank you. I’m pregnant with our second and have been struggling with talking to someone for months now. The line that you wrote about it becoming all you think about is pushing me to do something. It’s not fair to ourselves or our loved ones around us to gave to deal with this and I appreciate your honesty, especially in the blur of happy mommy blogs that surround us. Best of luck to you.

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hi Christy,

      Thank you for your encouraging comment. I’m sorry that you’ve been struggling. I know how difficult it is. You will get through it, and I’ll be praying that you find the help that’s right for you! Good luck to you too, friend.

      • Christina says

        I just stumbled on your blog today…..you wrote this on 7/9/14 not knowing about a month and some change later the amazing Robin Williams would end his struggle with depression. I have struggled with depression off and on for 20 years. The last 3 have been horrible. First of all, I live with chronic pain, and I have chronic fatigue. I can sleep hours upon hours and wake up exhausted only to go back to bed three more hours. I feel like my head is stuffed with cotton and that I am ten feet under water. I feel like such a bad mom and wife. This isn’t the life I want. While I wouldn’t commit suicide, I certainly can understand why those suffering choose that. I think it’s an incredibly selfish decision for a parent of any age child to do.
        With compassion, and love…
        Christina

        • MommysMeTime says

          Hi Christina…I’ m so glad you stumbled upon my blog. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with depression for so much for your life and that it’s been especially difficult recently. I have family members who have struggled with long term depression and I know it isn’t easy. You are amazing to be so selfless for your family. Even when you don’t feel like you’re a good mom or wife, KNOW that you ARE. I pray that something in you will always help you to remember that you are amazing and beautiful and so special to everyone you know. I love your honesty and the way you depict it and affirm the disease to be so real. Hang in there, friend. You can do it! Keep persevering! Hugs to you.

  2. Anonymous says

    Thank you for writing a real life post, instead of posting about a picture perfect stay at home mom life, like so many twin mom blogs do. I feel like many twin moms blog and Instagram these perfect pictures and moments because they are trying to show how easily being a twin mom comes to them and how they don’t have daily struggles because their twins are so well behaved. I have had to stop following some of them because I was staring to feel less than adequate as a twin mom because my twins and I weren’t perfectly dressed, taking professionally designed twin pictures, or going out to the zoo or baseball games every weekend. I struggle daily with finding the joy in raising twins because mine have been cranky and fussy most days of their lives. They do not seem to have a “special twin bond” because they often cannot stand even touching each other. It makes it hard to raise twins when it seems like no one else shares my struggles. Do you find that there are certain moments or scenarios that cause your depression to “flare”?

    • MommysMeTime says

      Thank you so much for your honest comment. I couldn’t agree with you more – reading blogs and seeing Instagram photos of picture perfect lives can be a really dangerous thing when it comes to comparing ourselves. What I try to remember is that there is no way they have it all together, they have tough times just like the rest of us, but I would rather be “real” because I think there is so much more encouragement that comes when we recognize that yes, it’s hard, but it’s also a blessing. When it comes to my depression flaring up, I feel like it does when I feel like I can’t do it all alone…at a certain point when everybody is crying and chasing me around the house and I feel like I can’t do anything to make everybody happy, that’s when I really start to get down on myself. Raising twins is certainly not easy, no matter what. You are doing a great job, and have been given those kids for a very special reason. Even when they’re crabby and “not bonding” they feel loved by you and that’s all that matters. YOU are amazing, and you will get through this! Keep you chin up! Thank you again for being real with me. I so appreciate it and am honored to walk the crazy journey with you.

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hi Deborah! Thank you so much! Thank you for your encouragement and thoughts. I so appreciate you!

  3. says

    This post couldn’t have been better written, Amber. Thank you for sharing about something that is incredibly difficult to talk about. I’ll be keeping you in my prayers. :)

  4. Beth says

    I can’t thank you enough for this post. The Lord sends us just what we need when we need it, doesn’t he? I just found your blog yesterday, and am ashamed to admit, I felt jealous. Jealous that you have three children and another on the way. I lost a baby in October 2012 to an ectopic pregnancy, and had a fallopian tube removed as a result. We have been trying ever since, but no positive yet. I started to get really overwhelmed with the obsession of baby, baby, baby! along with other things in life. I have always battled anxiety mixed with depression and I finally, while bawling in the doctor’s office, started Zoloft. I had my reservations, because, like always, I was thinking, “What if I get pregnant?” My doctor said that it would be safe to wean off when I get a positive, and I have made peace with that. It has changed my life so much already, and it’s only been a few weeks. I can’t believe that I lived my life that way, riddled with anxiety, worry and obsessive thoughts. For me, it came on gradually, and I didn’t realize how much of a hold it had over me. I use Bible study, exercise, elimination of caffeine and alcohol in combination with Zoloft to help me, and it is truly working. God is so good!
    All of this to say, 1) Thank you for writing this. So many needed these words, myself being one of them. 2) The Lord has reminded me that we all have our cross to bear, and we each have our own path He has set out for us. Jealousy and envy are not of God and are of no benefit to anyone. 3) We all truly need each other.
    Best of luck with your pregnancy, and I hope that you will continue to find relief and enjoyment in your life.
    :)

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hi Beth! From the depths of my heart, I thank you for your thoughtful comment. It can be so easy to let jealousy and envy creep into our minds and hearts. I’m truly so sorry to hear of your long journey. I will be thinking of you and truly hope that the Lord gives you the desires of your heart sooner rather than later.
      What a great reminder that we all have our own crosses to carry, but even when they’re different we can encourage each other. Also, I wanted to point you in the direction of my sister-in-law’s blog, called Espresso and Cream. If you don’t already follow it, its a great one, and she and my brother have recently gone through miscarriages and the many emotions that come alone with that. I think she would be a great encouragement to you!
      Blessings to you with everything and thanks again for you encouragement!

  5. says

    I just found your blog a few days ago. One of my friends linked your post “To The Mom With a Toddler and a Baby”. I have a 20 month old and am expecting #2 in February (haven’t announced it yet!) so your post was especially relevant to me. I blogged through my first pregnancy and after postpartum depression hit for me I stopped. I posted my first entry again this week and talked about my battle. Thank you for sharing your experience. We need to talk about these things to normalize them. I appreciate your bravery sharing and please know YOU are not alone, as well.

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hello and thank you so much for sharing your heart. I’m so glad you found your way here, and look forward to connecting more as we blog about our journeys. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone – you are an encouragement to me! :)

  6. Renee says

    I am pregnant with our second child and am suffering from depression. It is something that you only truly understand if you’d had it. I greatly appreciate your blog topic and the hope you offer to those suffering.

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hi Renee – congratulations on your second pregnancy. I’m so sorry to hear you too are experiencing depression. It can be such long and lonely road – especially when pregnant and our hormones and emotions are already all over the place. Thank you for your encouragement – good luck to you during the rest of your pregnancy. I hope you start to feel better very soon!

  7. kim says

    This is exactly how I’m feeling. I weaned myself off medication for post natal depression during the early stages of this pregnancy. I’m 33 weeks gone now and some days the fog is so thick it leaves me blind to everything around me, the only feeling visible is anybody would be a better mother and wife than I am right now. This is so difficult and not easy to share. I don’t want sympathy and I’ll be damned if I’ll accept help. All I want is to cry on someones shoulder and not be questioned. But damn I’m strong and so are you for writing this. Knowing I’m not alone really helps and getting through this will be difficult but worth it :-) thank you.

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hi Kim – thank you so much for your willingness to share your story with me. I hear you when you say you don’t want sympathy, but simply just want people to treat you normal without questioning you. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone. We’ll get through this together!

  8. Sonya says

    This is great. I think a lot more people have been there than we think. It’s terrifying and isolating. Thank you! I hope your post encourages people to get help.

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hi Sonya – thank you. I think you’re right – there are a lot more people struggling than we think. It’s not easy to talk about or admit, but life is too short to be fake with people. None of us have it all together, so we might as well use our weaknesses to admit that we need each other!

  9. says

    Hi Amber, what an inspiration for all mothers out there. Just keep it up, life is a continuous struggle, we all have this insatiable perfection, but actually there is no such thing as to perfection. Our child is the best gift from our creator, always give them the best of care.

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hi Jason – thank you for your word of encouragement. You’re right, life is a constant struggle, but there are so many things to be thankful for, despite how we feel emotionally.

  10. Crista says

    Beautifully written friend! Thank you for sharing something so difficult to help others. I completely believe in the power of prayer and hope that you find peace knowing you have so many people praying for you especially in this specific area!

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hi Crista – thank you for your prayers, dear friend! You are an amazing support to me and I am so thankful for you! The power of prayer truly is incredible!

  11. Vanessa says

    A friend shared the link with me about Toddler/new babies via Facebook. It spoke to me in so many ways as I suspect that I had post partum depression and am just getting out of it after 9 weeks. Thank you for sharing and being so honest. So many are blogging about things that appear real but are not. You are very brave and if I continue to feel post partum your words have helped me and would feel encouraged to seek help.

    • MommysMeTime says

      Hi Vanessa,
      Thank you for your encouragement to keep writing about real things. Some days it’s tough to get the courage to put out there, but life is too short to be fake and pretend like we have it all together all the time. I think there is so much more power when we admit that we’re weak and need one another! :) Thank you for your encouragement and I truly hope you continue to feel better! Hugs!

  12. Brooke says

    Thank you for sharing this real and raw post. I am also a twin mom (identical girls) and have a three year old daughter (they are 27 months apart) and battled postpartum depression badly after the birth of my twins. I felt alone especially when seeing other twin moms on IG that appeared to hold it together so well. My twins are a year and a half now and thankfully things are continuing to get better (it’s a daily battle). Medication has helped me tremendously and I too am so thankful for modern medicine (and exercise).

    I am thankful for my postpartum battles as it brought me closer to God when I needed Him most. I know the dark times I had were needed to show me that I am not in control and that our Heavenly Father is and will always be. God bless your sweet soul and thank you for being real. I will be praying for you and your family as they are blessed to have you in it. God is using you to help others and I am glad you see that. Thank you again, I am sure you have touched more mommas out there than you can imagine.

    Take care!

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