This is what a depressed mom looks like.

regular, normal women and moms deal with depression

Does the graphic surprise you? Are you shocked that women and moms with depression can look so normal – like the lady who lives next door or the woman you work with?

Or maybe you’re looking at the faces above and thinking, Wow – I had no idea that women like me are cursed with depression. I thought I was the only one.

Either way, if that’s your reaction, I totally get it.

Because when I confide in someone that I deal with depression, this is the response I often get:

“I had no idea you deal with depression. You seem like you have it all together. You seem so … normal.”

People are always so surprised. Because on the outside, I look like a regular, suburban, 30-something mom. I generally look put together. In a decent mood. You know … normal.

When I’m depressed, I don’t look sad, angry, anxious. Like I feel like I’m falling apart. Like I’m ready to scream at my kids for every little thing they do. Like I’m worrying I will blurt something that will make their little faces crumple in sadness or worse – fear.

I also don’t look dirty, frantic, or bizarre. I don’t act erratic or crazy. I look and act like me. Just maybe a little quieter, a little sadder, a little less of myself.

When I am struggling with depression, I look normal on the outside. Because I AM normal. I just have depression, too.

If there is one thing I want people to understand about depression, it’s this: Depression often – usually – looks “normal.” Because “normal” people struggle with depression.

Some people will bristle at a comparison I am about to make – and honestly, I’m not sure why – but I think my depression isn’t different from many other chronic diseases. I have friends, acquaintances, and relatives who deal with lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, and other awful diseases that flare up and seemingly go away – just as my depression does.

I am not always depressed, nor do I always have to be on medication. My depression comes and goes. When it’s here, I take meds for it. When it’s gone, I don’t.

And yes, I know that many, many people have constant depression and have to take meds and go to therapy all the time. And you know what? I think their depression isn’t any different from any other disease that needs to be constantly monitored and cared for and medicated so the person who has the disease can feel normal.

(There’s that word again.)

It bothers me that there is such a stigma about depression. I can understand it – anything that messes with our brains is scary – but it still makes me mad that I’m afraid to talk about it much. But I’m writing about it, at least. And I’m glad that I am.

Because if I can help some moms feel less alone, and if I can help some other people understand that regular, everyday people deal with depression – well, that makes me so happy.

If you have a friend or family member who confides in you that they struggle with depression and take medication, just remember: They’re just as normal as your friend with diabetes or your cousin with lupus. And they’re still the person you know and love.

Are you hesitant to tell close friends and relatives about your depression? Is it difficult to explain that having depression doesn’t make you “crazy”?

Note: This is a revised, previously-published post, so that’s why some comments are from a while ago.  🙂

photo credit: Pavel P. via photopin cc | photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopincc | photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via photopincc | photo credit: Kris Krug via photopincc | photo credit: afunkydamsel via photopincc | photo credit: epSos.de via photopincc | photo credit: lauritadianita via photopin cc | photo credit: rockygirl05 via photopincc | photo credit: John Ashburne via photopincc

My apathy is pissing me off. So I guess that’s an improvement.

Pssst – the Honest Voices linkup for bloggers is back! Get the skinny after the post…

ssris and apathyI keep starting this post. Then I erase what I wrote. I walk away. Sit down and try again. And my brain keeps hijacking me.

I feel foggy and tired and unfocused and unmotivated and just plain old apathetic about most stuff. And that makes it really tough to write.

I think it’s this new antidepressant – Luvox – that I’m on. But I’m pretty sure the last couple of SSRIs did this to me too, just not as severely. It’s hard to remember, really. I have to go back to my notes and my old blog posts about depression to remember.

Zoloft, Celexa, Zoloft again. And there has been Prozac and Viibryd and Lexapro and Luvox. One loses its effectiveness so we try another. Another has bad side effects, so let’s try another. On and on and on.

I’m tired of the SSRI merry-go-round and all the side effects. Trying something new, hoping it’ll work better. And then being disappointed. Again.

Now I’m in this weird, fuzzy place. I don’t feel sad or down or depressed, really. It’s not like I want to crawl into bed and avoid everything. I’m still doing everyday, normal things. Playing with my kids, taking them places, doing work and household tasks, and so on.

I just can’t seem to really care about anything that matters. I have a list of to-dos and some get done. Some don’t. Whatever.

Laundry piles up. Dishes pile up. Emails accumulate. Maybe I’ll get to them. Or maybe I’ll just get lost in Facebook or the TV or a magazine or some random task that suddenly becomes important. Or maybe I’ll take a 45-minute shower and not notice how long I took.

And then suddenly the day is over and I realize I wanted to get two specific things done today, and I didn’t. This would have panicked me in the past. Now I just shrug my shoulders and say, “meh.”

In a way, this sounds like a good thing, right? Not worrying so much, just kind of floating along and doing what I can. But it’s a terrible feeling. I don’t feel enough and it’s a terrible, terrible feeling. I know I’m not alone in this because I spent a lot of time last night Googling “SSRIs and apathy” – and I found out this isn’t totally unusual. But no one seems to know how to solve the problem.

What’s odd is if you saw me out and about, you wouldn’t notice how bizarro I’m feeling. I’m pretty good at hiding it. But I bet my good friends could tell if they spent some time with me, because I’m not following conversations very well. I have a sort of numb, drunken feeling that colors everything I do. I can’t focus. I feel drugged. And I HATE IT.

I need to achieve clarity again. I need to feel like ME again. This apathetic feeling is pissing me off! That’s a good thing, right?

So I’m playing phone tag with my doc. Chugging coffee and hoping it’ll clear my head a little. Or avoiding coffee and drinking green smoothies up the wazoo. Just trying something, ANYTHING, to feel normal. I’m trying to force myself to care enough to take charge of my health. Trying to figure out the key to clarity.

I’m wondering if I need to get off all meds and clear out my system. The last time I did that I did okay for a couple months. And then all the sadness and irritability came storming back, so back on the meds I went.

I don’t know what to do. Sometimes meds make me feel worse and then when I go off them, all is well. Sometimes meds are what make me feel like me again.

Right now I need to find that place between feeling too much and feeling too little. That normal place I used to know. Does it exist for me anymore? I think it does. It’s just really hard to find right now. But I’ll get there. I always believe I’ll get there. I have to, right?

Have you dealt with this weird, fuzzy, apathetic feeling from antidepressants? Did a different SSRI fix it? Or did going off antidepressants fix it? What about alternative therapies? Let’s hear your ideas and experiences. I know I’m not the only one looking for answers. Please comment with your thoughts after the linkup for bloggers below.

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It’s back!

Honest Voices linkup at HonestMom.com NEW

 

Hey bloggers! Welcome to Honest Voices, an every-other-week linkup at Honest Mom. I invite you to link up with a post of yours that you’re really proud of. One that shows off your blog’s voice and what it’s all about. Funny or serious, old or new, it doesn’t matter – just as long as your post is HONEST.

TWO SIMPLE RULES:

1) Visit and comment on the blog that linked right before you and one other blog post of your choice.

2) Promote the linkup at least once, but more is better. Tweet it, Facebook it, Pin it, whatever. Just remember – the more people you get to visit the linkup, the more people will discover you!

Now what are you waiting for? Let’s see your posts!

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photo credit: jenny downing via photopin cc

You don’t have to be loud to be heard.

Hi, reader. I know you’re there, taking in my words. Even if you never comment. Even if you never tell anyone that you read Honest Mom. Or that you’ve been going to therapy or on antidepressants for years.

I know what I write is reaching you. And I want you to know something.

It’s okay to be quiet about dealing with depression. It’s totally okay.

Today’s Internet celebrates the loud and proud. Sometimes the ones who attract all the attention aren’t worth the fifteen seconds it took to read the BuzzFeed article they were featured in.

But sometimes the vocal are celebrated for good reason. A bunch of brave depression warriors come to mind: Jenny Lawson at The Bloggess. Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress. Cristi Comes at Motherhood Unadorned. Erin Margolin on her beautiful blog.

They are just a few of the women who are putting themselves out there very publicly, letting everyone know they deal with depression in an effort to lift the stigma of this misunderstood mental health issue.

Me? I write about depression all over the interwebs and in print, but I’m somewhere in the middle of quiet and loud, really. I don’t attach my face to my blog or use my married name. I don’t tell tons of people “in real life” about Honest Mom. I turn down local media opportunities and don’t do many local events. I do this to give my kids and husband some privacy, and to keep from attracting unwanted attention in my small town.

I’ll write, I’ll chat on social media, and I’ll even speak at the Blog U conference this summer, but all in all? I hang back a little. It’s my way, and I’m comfortable with it.

But what I want you all to know, all of you who are quiet about your depression, is that if you don’t feel comfortable telling the world about what you deal with and prefer to keep it between you and your therapist, that’s 100% okay.

I think the concept of being a private person has lost value in our selfie society, a culture in which breakups play out over Snapchat and attention-seeking Facebook statuses beg for commentary. Being quiet about personal stuff does not make you a coward. It makes you a private person. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

However – being quiet about depression doesn’t mean you can’t help others. Loud and proud isn’t required to make a difference. Quiet and strong works, too.

You can reach out to a woman you have a feeling is dealing with the same stuff you are, and say I understand. I am here to listen. I get what you’re going through. Even if you help one person with depression feel not so alone, that’s amazing. Possibly life-saving. And that one life matters.

It takes all types to battle the stigma of depression. Loud, public advocates. Quiet, supportive fighters. And people somewhere in between, like me.

Let’s make a resolution together to quietly reach out to at least one woman this year who we think is battling depression. A mom in your playgroup, a neighbor, a coworker who hasn’t been herself. One person.

And if you keep your resolution, I’ll keep writing. Deal?

I’ll take your silence as a yes.

depressed mom info