Judge Not.

Xanax Makes Me a Better Mom” has exploded all over the Internet. And as one of the moms featured in the article, I am a bit taken aback by some of the reactions.

I probably shouldn’t be. It’s not news that people like to judge others. But I have to say, I’m amazed at the audacity of people who like to make assumptions and throw around their uninformed opinions.

Some people have assumed that I am against taking antidepressants.

Others have ranted that I obviously have no idea what depression really is, if sitting by my clothes dryer is enough to calm me down.

Still others have said that people who take SSRIs are weak and pathetic.

And then there are the people who think that Hope Chanda and I should have never had kids if we need to take medications for depression.

That’s just a sampling of the opinions out there.

Honestly, I haven’t read every single comment on the article. There are just too many on the version CNN ran, and there are many other related articles and Facebook conversations that have popped up. Besides, I don’t want to read all of the comments because I’m sure there are some hateful ones that will bother me. So I’m not going to.

But what I do know from some of the comments and reactions is this: It’s abundantly clear why so many women are unnecessarily ashamed of their depression.

Depression is still misunderstood, stigmatized, and feared. And because of this, many moms are afraid to speak up and ask for help.

This is tragic. Absolutely tragic – because these moms are needlessly suffering in silence due to the stigma.

A stigma that is understandable, but just plain wrong.

I know from my experience that depression is a chronic illness that needs to be managed like any other illness. When it’s successfully managed, a person with depression can live a happy life. Treatments are individualized, and what may work for one person may not work for another.

Like others who deal with chronic illnesses, I have tried different ways to manage my depression. I’ve been on various medications. Tried no medication and all-natural tactics. Gone to therapy and taken part in online support groups. And done research to educate myself on the many ways to treat my illness.

No different than anyone else managing their chronic condition.

Should a person with Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, or lupus be ashamed that they have their illness? Of course not. Neither should a person with depression. But because depression is in the brain, it scares people.

And this is exactly why I write about my experiences with depression.

I want to help lift the stigma.

I want other moms dealing with depression to know they are not alone and that there is no shame in getting help.

I want to grab a megaphone and let everyone out there know that regular, everyday moms like me have depression, work hard to successfully manage it, and live happy, normal lives.

We are not crazy. We are not scary. We are just the moms who live on your street, who you work with, who you know and love.

So I will write. I will talk. I will battle the stigma and yell from the proverbial rooftops to reach as many needlessly suffering moms as possible and educate the uninformed.

The Judgy McJudgertons will keep on doing their thing. And I’ll keep doing mine. We’ll see who prevails in the end – but I know who I’m betting on.

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photo credit: Paul Watson via photopin cc

Comments

  1. Kirstin Harrow says

    I have family members who still think I'm just full of shit because they don't understand it. I try to ignore the looks and eye rolls and just keep doing what I'm doing.

  2. Shelly says

    Don’t let them get to you. Depression is hard enough to live with and manage without other people’s ignorant opinions and comments. Thank you for being so open and honest!

  3. says

    I found your blog through pinterest and I will be a new follower for sure. I just want to say thank you for not being ashamed. My dad dealt with depression and anxiety for most of his life before committing suicide 15 years ago. His mom (my grandmother) and sister (my aunt) also has it. It’s something I still to this day don’t fully understand as I haven’t gone through it. The stigma of depression and even suicide caused me to keep “my story” to myself. I was embarrassed and ashamed to tell people how my dad had died. I finally couldn’t take being silent anymore about it and blogged about it last October and received a lot of support and encouragement. If you want to check it out, you can read it under “My Story” and “Erasing the Stigma” posts. Thanks again for sharing your experience. :)
    Jennifer recently posted… Sassy Weight Loss ChallengeMy Profile

  4. Emily says

    Wow, I really can’t believe the audacity of people to make those comments. Just goes to show how narrow minded people still are. Even the ones saying that your depression isn’t as bad as theirs, is this a competition??? I just commend you on being open and sharing because it does help those suffering, and I’ve done the same in my circle of friends. I’m not ashamed of it, and if someone makes me feel that way then they don’t need to be my friend. Simple as that. Talking about it helps and makes it easier to manage. So keep it up and don’t let those comments get to you. xo

  5. says

    It would have been totally reasonable if you said, “Well, I tried. If people don’t want to even try to understand, then there’s nothing I can do.” But you are choosing to continue the conversation. Good for you. You are a gifted communicator, and you are using your skills to help others. I’m really impressed, and I know there are so many moms out there who thank you for being their voice.

    It’s going to be a long haul. I hope you ate your Wheaties!
    Amy recently posted… 20 Things I Learned In CollegeMy Profile

    • Erin says

      I love when people tell me it’s all in my head and if I want it badly enough I will be fine. Or exercise more. Or eat more vegetables. Or get more sunshine. Or cut out artificial sugars and chemicals and caffeine and chocolate and meat and live on kale juice. Oh! Or, get rid of the computer and internet and television and separate yourself from the rest of the world and it’s terrible news, which is obviously the root cause of the problem. Sigh. There are a lot of misunderstandings and cruelties about depression and mental illness. It is no wonder so many people remain silent and/or go untreated. What works for one might not work for another and it is complicated. Thanks for speaking out.

  6. says

    My grandparents never understood my mother's depression, never believed that she needed anything besides a beating to get her out of her "funk". They irreparably damaged my mother with their attitudes and treatment of their OWN CHILD. When I was diagnosed in my late teens my mother knew what it was like to be mistreated and judged for her illness, but so many people.. so many moms aren't this lucky. They are "on their own". Thank you so much for being outspoken about such an important subject. Keep standing your ground and shouting from those rooftops. The haters will eventually be overcome by the truth.

  7. says

    Well said. Thank you for sharing your truth while others are so quick to share their opinions. Opinions need to be defended. Truth needs no defense. That is what is so great about your honesty. People can speculate what life may or may not be like for others, but you are sharing what your life IS like and in doing so, giving others an example of someone who is taking control of a difficult aspect of her life and continually working toward positive change.
    Rose recently posted… Bar Harbor, MaineMy Profile

  8. Kate W. says

    I am bipolar and fight the same crappy judgements as well. I am decently maintained with medications – but still – that doesn’t seem to matter. Especially when bipolar is blamed in many of the nasty crimes out there. I do seriously battle depression. You are right, this is a debilitating disease, like any other. Take Lupus for instance, they have to take medicine every single day, for the rest of their lives. Sometimes it flares up and normal life ceases for a while. Other times we can go through a “remission” of sorts, and life is somewhat normal. Thank you for taking the time to fight this battle… I often lack the energy to fight.

  9. says

    Wow. I had no idea about the reaction people were having. I’ve struggled with depression my entire life… as has my mother, sister, grandma… you get the idea. Everyone has their own way of coping and unfortunately, some don’t find their way before it’s too late. Those left to deal with that tragedy sadly become very aware of the judgments they made. If everyone could just show a little love and compassion for their fellow neighbors, walk their own path, we could all figure out how to get through another day.
    I appreciate your efforts in awareness raising. Keep speaking your truth because those that can hear it, will. That’s all that matters

  10. says

    AMAZING! You have courage to talk about issues that NEED to be talked about! Parenting is a hard job! Hiding feelings , emotions and ways in which we cope is very unhealthy. Those who have judged and make assumptions are in fear of taking a realistic look at themselves. BRAVO! You are a GOOD parent;one who teaches her children that having emotions is human , courage is talking about them!

  11. Jenie Crespo Carey says

    I want you to know that your article really brought it home for me. I posted it on my personal Facebook page. For the first two years of my daughter's life I felt something was wrong with me. I always felt "this enormous feeling of need", from my daughter, my husband, my friends. It would send me into a rage that I couldn't even explain. I knew I was completley overreacting but it happened time and time again. I ended up finally talking to my doctor then moving on to a phychatrist where I was diagnosed with postpartum/depression. Unfortunatley there was damage done to some of my friendships and even friendships lost during this time. Later people wanted me to explain why I was so angry and I just couldn't. Your article gave me the words. Thank You.

  12. says

    I am so grateful to you for using your voice to increase the awareness on this topic. I waited far too long to seek help and THAT was scary. I speak with friends who are clearly needing help but are deeply in denial or ashamed or simply stuck in the lost-anger-hurt-sad. For some, the stigma is paralyzingly strong. Again, I thank you.
    MILF Runner recently posted… WHERE’S MY STEVIA?????My Profile

  13. Kristin Krug Travis says

    Love this. 'Just got hooked up to your blog. I'm all about the honesty. I'm an adoptive Mom and am honest about THAT. :) joyofconception.blogspot.com :) Thank you for your honesty! I'm going to pass your blog onto a friend now. :)

  14. Courtney Tjeerdsma Fitzgerald says

    You say it well! I am so sick of judgements. I applaud you for telling your story. You help others. Thank you

  15. Jennifer Place says

    This was my Facebook status two weeks ago:
    I’m sick of the stigma attached to mental illness, to being in therapy.
    I suffer from clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety.
    That doesn’t mean I’m not a contributing member of society. It doesn’t mean I’m someone to be feared. It doesn’t mean I should be vilified, pitied, shunned or mocked.
    It does mean that I’m just like you except sometimes my days can be a lot harder. It means that some days it takes a hell out of a lot more to get me out of bed than it does someone without these disorders.
    It does mean that some days I feel as if I need to flee, to hide, to be somewhere alone and silent. It does mean that some days I want to cry for no reason, that I have to fight not to hyperventilate. It does mean that some days my fear, my anxiety, my sadness feel as if they are trying to claw their way out of my body and I am powerless to stop them.
    It doesn’t mean I’m insane. It doesn’t mean that I’ll snap one day. It doesn’t mean that I’m dangerous. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It doesn’t mean I’m not good at my job. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good mother. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad wife. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good friend.
    I’m tired of people believing it’s shameful to be sick even though, according to the CDC, 1 in 10 adults is affected by depression.
    I’m 1 in 10, and I’m tired of being ashamed.

  16. says

    Any kind of emotional illness is largely misunderstood. But you know what? Not everybody has to understand it. It is up to us to decide who we want in our lives. If we have people in our lives who are not accepting of who we are, the good and the bad, then who needs them? I used to be ashamed of my anxiety issues. It was my dirty little secret. Now I wear it loud and proud (well, maybe not proud, but certainly loud). It’s part of who I am. Take me or leave me. As for these other idiots making those uninformed comments on your site, I say, thank God they are not regulars in your life.
    Steph at I’m Still Learning recently posted… How to be an optimistMy Profile

  17. says

    I have dealt with depression and anxiety since adolescence. Then, I had a huge blow of a major health issue, which sent me into an even bigger tailspin. I began antidepressants, and they worked wonderfully for the time I took them. It was absolute hell getting off of them, but once my health improved, many of my depression and anxiety symptoms diminished, and weaning off was the best course of action. Now, my coping skills are better, but also, my health has improved significantly (turns out, my illness creates symptoms of depression and anxiety, and can mimic bi-polar disorder, among other lovely heated titles). And, I am sooo very thankful I was able to use antidepressants to help me through, but I am also thankful to be done with them. Everyone has their own battles, and we just don’t know what it is like. Since going through this, I am much less quick to judge others, and hopefully, some of the haters can someday learn to do the same. Keep fighting the good fight!
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  18. says

    I can’t like this enough! I’m so proud for you that your article has been featured so publicly. As it should be!! And with any post that carries such importance, the trolls will definitely come out by the thousands. Thank you for your courage and passion! You are making a big difference to so many!!
    Ashley recently posted… Feeling like a hot mess? Come sit by me!My Profile

  19. says

    Keep writing about it, JD. Hopefully, pieces like this will help to normalize depression for people. When I think about the different friends I have in my life, there are only a few who come to mind who haven't suffered from depression at some point. I was shocked to experience post-partum with my first son. More prepared for it with my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th sons. My husband suffers from it…especially in the winter time.

    One of my kids was recently diagnosed with an attention disorder. We saw that one coming for years. But it was time for us to discuss medication. Unavoidable with this one. It is the best choice for him. The only choice left. And a choice that happens to be working. We've convinced him there is no shame in needing medication in order for him to succeed and self regulate. We believe it, and he believes it. It's unfortunate that we feel judgment from other parents because our son is now on medication. By "unfortunate" I mean I'd like to bum rush them.

    Keep on fighting the good fight!

  20. says

    I stay off all mom chat rooms because of the mean free for all bashing. Isn’t it hard enough to be a mom without all the hateful comments? We all love our kids, but we’re all real people, with real shit on our plates. Maybe I’m not depressed, but maybe I’m struggling in some other way. Imagine if we built each other up instead of tearing each other down….
    running mama recently posted… Weight WatchersMy Profile

  21. says

    I didn't like the parenting article. I just read it. I too feel depression needs to be approached with the same sensitivity from the general public as with any disease.

  22. Bridget says

    I just read the article and came here specifically to say YES, thank you!!!! I am so happy to see moms being honest about it all. I am sick to death of these judgey mckjudgersons who think parents have to be perfect. I am proud of you!

  23. says

    YES! Thank you for this!!! Even though a few close folks to me knew about my struggle, I just made it public less than a year ago…by blogging about it a couple of times.

    It’s important people know our struggles & start sensing our signs so they can adjust how they react, too. Our families need to be up on it. Though it CAN affect our parenting, as well as those around us, we don’t always have a flair up. We do have happy times & memories.

    When I shared my struggles, I had several other moms share their struggles with me, too…but they did it privately because they are still ashamed. I understand & do think it’s sad, too.

    Moms with depression need to stick together. We know that we are & can be good moms. It’s frustrating when others question that because we handle it differently.

    Thank you so much for this, again!!
    AM~Erica recently posted… AM~Erica Wants a SandcastleMy Profile

  24. says

    Keep doing what you believe in! I want to hear your voice. And, after all, you are the “Honest Mom”. The negative reactions can hurt, particularly when they are anonymous, on the internet and from people who don’t know you from Adam. As Winston Churchill said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” I applaud you!
    Rachel recently posted… Not Your Father’s Old MacDonaldMy Profile

  25. Lauren Bilotta says

    THANK YOU, for You, and your blog. Thank you for helping fight back against the Judgy Joneses & Mommy Wars!

  26. says

    I loved your episode on Katie Couric and the stigma that comes with using any anti depressants and being a mom or not for being a mom for that matter. These people who do not understand that you need this chemical to make your brain work properly will probably never get it.This is not the 1950-60's any more and mental illnesses are very real, and they do need to be acknowledged and treated with meds.thank you so much for bringing this taboo topic to millions of Americans.

  27. says

    Hi JD! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you’re doing. My husband suffers with clinical depression and I have Lupus, so there are more than a few prescription bottles in our medicine cabinet. As crazy as it sounds, there are some physicians who judge patients who take pain medication. I take my meds exactly as they are prescribed to me and I get no “buzz” from them, because they do only what they are intended to do… help to ease some of the constant pain I live with. But, traits like compliance and integrity don’t matter to people who’ve already made up their mind that you’re doing something that they think is wrong or that they disapprove of. It took almost 2 years before my husband would agree to take anti-depressants, because of the stigma attached to them. Not only was he afraid that he’d be perceived as weak if his friends or co-workers found out, but he believed the stigma himself for many years. Thank God he finally realized that the meds were necessary and that he suffers from a valid, documented medical condition. They saved his life. Literally. So, thanks for speaking up and speaking out. Keep fighting the good fight! ~ Mary PS: You did a great job on the show!
    Mary recently posted… Chicken and Fusilli alla VodkaMy Profile

  28. Phaedra Rae Morgridge says

    As a mom to a preemie baby dealing with PPD and PPMD I want to say thank you for being brave, strong, and courageous enough to battle those stigmas. It is blogs like this and people like you who really give me hope!

  29. Meike Salt says

    I love your article , I suffer form Depression since my teens and am now a Mom of 2. It took years to get it under Control and for me to admit that I can't do it by myself , I use to seek help and then when I felt "normal " again , I would stop with the medication.
    During my daughters pregnancy I went on Medication again , my OB concerned about the health of my Baby and freaking me out with all the things that could go wrong , send me to see a psychologist.
    And I am so glad I did , he told me that having depression is just an illness , seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Taking the Medication is not going to harm my Baby , even told me that there is a study about women who took Meds during Pregnancy and the higher IQ of their Babies.
    I'm on Meds now for nearly 2 years and you know what? I am happy! Something I haven't felt in years , first I didn't even know what it was but then it came to me , this is what happiness feels like.
    Because I had more than 3 episodes of Depression even while on Medication , I will have to take them for the rest of my life and it's ok nobody would say to a Diabetic stop the Insulin. Just like Insulin , these Medications are life saving and life quality altering.
    If I get asked about my " Happy Pills " I tell them , to me that's what they are x.

  30. Eve says

    I was rocking the baby, listening to my 4 year old watch My Little Pony cartoons on the computer in the kitchen, and wondering what I would have ready for snack when my 1st grade son got off the bus and what to throw together for dinner before soccer practice when I saw you on TV with Katie Curic. All I could think was “Wow! You are so brave.”
    I live in Texas. I’m a native Texan. My family, for as many generations as we can count, are Texans. Apparently, Texans don’t suffer from PPD. They definitely don’t “whine or complain” about it and you never, ever, EVER admit that you can’t handle anything and everything that life throws at you. After 2 difficult pregnancies followed by 2 emergency C-sections, full time job, 3 months of whooping cough, a husband with a challenging travel schedule and panic attacks and sleep deprivation that would make me a wonderful candidate for the funny farm, I finally broke down and asked my primary care Dr. for help.
    What followed was an ongoing merry-go-round of meds from the shrink that spent 10 minutes every 2 weeks with me to find the one that worked the best, a parade of therapists that offered advice from “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and jump back in the game”; a caring a misguided therapist that suggested I just give all my problems to God; and of course my personal favorite “Just ask your family for some help”…DUH! Would I really be in this situation if I had a family that gave a … flying saucer to begin with? Really?
    Mental illness is not just kept in the closet here but a major character flaw that may eventually “taint” the rest of the “normal” people with whom I share my DNA. If it wasn’t for my husband, who literally is the greatest guy in the world and my mentor who single handedly kept me from eating a bullet, I doubt I would be here typing this today. When I first started showing signs of sickness after baby #2 my husband went straight to our primary care and got educated as quickly as possible. He’s been waging an almost hand-to-hand battle with my disease for the first 3 years. I finally got well enough last year to join the fight and we’ve been a great team ever since. Now that I am “back to normal” (still on meds, still in therapy, and still visiting the shrink), I try to tell as many people as possible that PPD is not a joke. It’s not just the Baby Blues. It’s not just a couple of hours with the kids away so you can pick up the house and finish the laundry without them messing it up right behind you. This is serious business.
    Sadly, unless you “look” sick, ie. your hair is falling out like a cancer treatment patient or you’ve lost a limb to diabetes or you have some hideous skin manifestation that flakes off and oozes pus, PPD is not considered a “real” disease. I always wonder how real it felt to the grandparents/loved ones of all 5 of those kids who’s mother drowned them in the tub in Houston. BTW, didn’t she have multiple hospitalizations for PPD? Hmmmmm…..

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