Am I depressed or just a stressed out mom? Here’s how I know.

“But how do I actually know if I’m depressed?”

That’s the question I get most often from Honest Mom readers. Women read my posts and think, Hmmmm. That sounds like me. But I thought I was just tired / grumpy / irritable / having a bad month / dealing with normal mom stuff.

I’m not a doctor. But I can tell you how what I know from my experience. 

When I’m depressed, I can’t handle everyday life well. I have many days when I am really sad. I wake up down and dragging. I am extremely irritable and everything my kids and husband do sets me off. No matter how hard I try, I can’t just “snap out of it.”

Other days I wake up and I just don’t want to get out of bed because I don’t want to deal with the day. I have to, and I do eventually, but I plod through my days, joyless. And again, I am irritable. Really irritable.

There is a constant feeling of fighting against everything. Getting through every day is an effort and exhausting. Every feeling, every urge to scream and throw something out of frustration, every thought that I just want this day to be over because it’s so damn HARD is overwhelming.

I yell at my kids a lot. I sleep terribly. I have no energy, feel anxious about everything, have a hard time staying focused, and of course – there’s that rage that can happen.

This constant feeling of fighting against myself and unwanted feelings doesn’t go away. Sure, some days are better than others. But that unwanted feeling of fighting and resisting is always there. Every day. Every week. Every month.

That’s what depression looks like for me. It makes everyday life very hard and everyday challenges – like difficult children or a too-busy schedule – overwhelming.

When I’m depressed, life is not enjoyable. It’s hard. And I feel like I’m just going through the motions so I can just get through the day.

But when I am on antidepressants, everything changes.

I am ME again. Just me. Not drugged up or numb or out of it. Just me.

The veil of depression lifts and I can enjoy life again. Sure, my kids can still be annoying. Yes, my schedule is too busy and stressful. Yes, there are some side effects (but very minor for me).

But I can handle it. Life doesn’t overwhelm me.

Instead of getting to the point where I scream at my kids to shut up, I can take a deep breath, relax, get down on their level, and work out the problem.

Instead of getting to the point of rage, I can calm myself down with my clothes dryer.

I can get out of bed in the morning and write instead of lying in bed, dreading the chaos of the day.

I can enjoy life, see the joy in my children, and laugh my big, loud laugh.

I am a better mother. Better wife. Better ME when I am managing my depression with antidepressants.

Like many others, I really would rather not be on SSRIs for depression. I would love to be drug-free. I tried it for four months. But I wasn’t ready. Maybe someday I will be off antidepressants. The nature girl in me really wants that. But now is not that time for me.

And I’m not going to be embarrassed or disappointed in myself for needing medication to feel like me. As many people have said to me – would I be disappointed in myself if I had to take meds to manage another chronic health condition? No, of course not.

I’m telling you all this because if you’re nodding your head as you read, thinking, yes, this is me, too, call your doctor. Take that step. You deserve to enjoy life. Maybe meds, therapy, alternative medicine, or some combination of all three can help you.

But you won’t know until you try.

Do you think you might be depressed? If you know you are, what are you doing about it to feel better? 

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