When a secret isn’t meant to be kept

Moms harbor lots of secrets.

Some of them are pretty innocent – like how we hide from our kids in the bathroom to get 10 minutes of alone time, or cheat at kiddie board games to make them end faster.

Other secrets we keep quiet because we are worried about being judged for our parenting choices. Choosing not to breastfeed, how much TV we let our kids watch – even that we stay with our kid until she falls asleep at night – all these topics can cause people to pass judgement.

And sometimes … sometimes we keep bigger secrets. Personal ones that we are actually dying to talk about but are afraid to, for fear of what others may think.

Two years ago, that was me. I was aching to talk about my struggles with depression, but at the same time, scared to admit it.

I felt ashamed that I was taking antidepressants, embarrassed that I was seeing a therapist, and like a bad mom for not enjoying every minute of parenthood. And it was tearing me up to be holding it all in.

After I spilled the beans to some friends, a few confided in me that they too, dealt with depression – but not many.

I knew I couldn’t be the only one dealing with it. And that’s why I started talking about it here on Honest Mom.

Every post I write about depression or the difficulties of being a mom gets a strong reaction from moms in the same boat. People thank me for speaking out and helping them to not feel alone. Some even are moved to get help. So I keep writing and keep talking about it.

But honestly, sometimes it’s scary for me, too. I still worry sometimes about what people think – I’m not immune to that feeling.

For me, though, the benefits of drawing awareness to depression in moms is worth the risk of what other people think of me. I keep going back to what my mom always said when I was a kid: “If someone doesn’t like you for you, then you don’t want to be friends with them anyway.”

Such a simple notion, but a great one to live by, right?

Like you, I have secrets that will stay quiet. Some just aren’t meant for public consumption.

But some secrets aren’t meant to be kept, because keeping them inside will do more harm than good.

Are you keeping secrets that are holding you back from enjoying your life?

If so, I urge you to take baby steps and think about how you can unburden yourself.

It will be a little scary, yes. But trust me – lots of moms feel just like you do. And the sooner you let go of a secret that shouldn’t be quiet, the happier you will eventually be.

Honest Voices linkup at HonestMom.com

photo credit: Daniela Vladimirova via photopin cc

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? 

Honest Voices linkup at HonestMom.com

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc