You know that feeling? The one where doing anything is just hard. Getting out of bed – HARD, dealing with the kids – HARD, doing housework – TOO DARN HARD!
I know it all too well myself.
It’s 4 years since my last baby was born and I struggled with post natal depression after her birth. I didn’t realise that the feelings I had were part of that issue. I remember bursting into tears because I couldn’t find the baby’s bottle to sterilise it for her next feed. My parents had come over to visit from South Africa for the birth of their 7th grandchild, and I have this memory of everyone frantically searching for baby’s bottle, and me crying uncontrollably. My dad was actually the one who realised that it was post natal depression.
The feelings of shame, embarrassment and a loss of control were almost too much to bear. That feeling of shame was so strong, that it took me 8 months after baby’s birth to finally pluck up the courage to go and see a doctor. I wish I had gone sooner.
I spoke with the doctor who put me on medication, and it was the best thing I could have done. I remember feeling such a sense of relief knowing that I was going to start feeling better.
I want you to know, friend, that there IS NO SHAME in getting medication to treat depression. It is necessary for your well being. I realised this, and am forever grateful to my family for their support.
3 Years Later
I stayed on the medication for about two years, and thought that I was “all good”. So I decided to go off the medication. I had finished my last prescription, and hadn’t renewed it, but felt I was doing fine. So I made the (fateful) decision to not renew it and to be the hero! HAHA! I was “all good” for a season, but then went through a separation from my husband and started a small cleaning business. The stresses of both those situations began to take their toll. It took a while for me to get to “rock bottom” again, but I was headed there on the train of inevitability.
Rock bottom arrived! I have an older daughter who was going away on a camping trip with her youth group and I offered to help with transport. It was going to be an 8 hour trip, which would include taking the 4 and 7 year old with. So, I planned as only a single mother can. I bribed the 4 and 7 year old with movies on the trip, special food for the road, and a sleepover at a motel for the night before traveling back. I cleaned the house from top to bottom so that I could come back to a nice clean home, packed the car, got the portable dvd players set-up and prepared to leave.
We got to the church for the debrief, when the youth pastor said “Claire – we probably don’t need you to drive, we have enough transport…”
This is the face of a single mom, who now has to deal with the momentous task of informing the 4 and 7 year olds that plans have changed!
Not only that, but in the moment I felt like my world was crashing around me, that I had no control. I also felt immense rejection – why didn’t they want my help? In truth, the youth pastor probably thought he was doing me a favour – which he probably was. Unfortunately, it sent me on a spiral into the deepest depression and feelings of rejection that I have felt in the longest time. The logic of it did not escape me, but the feelings were real regardless.
I’m a good actress – my face did not betray me, and I thanked the pastor and went to my car to tell the littlies that our “roadtrip” was cancelled. They handled it very well, especially with further bribes of a trip to the mall for a donut – HA! Saved by donuts!
Unfortunately, my feelings continued to spiral. I cried, raged and despaired within myself, all while keeping a brave face on for the little people around me and the rest of the population visiting the mall for donuts.
I visited a friend – friends are important. She was incredibly supportive, and we commiserated together, while she also encouraged me to go back to the doctor.
Year 4 Plus 1 Month
I’ve been on the medication now for a month, and I feel like I can conquer the world. I have more headspace for the things that are important to me, like this blog for instance. I’ve been AWOL for 6 months, but now feel I am ready to tackle this again. I’m so excited for what is to come.
Friends, getting medication for depression, anxiety or any other mentally debilitating disease is not shameful. It is GOOD. You are so important to your kids, your family and to yourself. You are strong, courageous and valuable.
I do hope you have found some measure of hope through this post. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if you have struggles like this.
Till next time.
Resources to help with depression