Controversy reigns, but hope remains.


Once again, the conversation about moms and meds is stirring up controversy. And once again, I’m thinking many people are simply missing the point.

The reason I went on Katie Couric’s show this week to talk about moms, meds, and depression was the same reason why I write about it: to help lift the stigma and let other moms know they aren’t alone.

I felt going on Katie’s show would put a face to depression and help people to understand that regular, normal people deal with it. And from the countless messages and comments I’ve received from moms, I know many women breathed a sigh of relief when they heard my words, realizing they are not alone.

The problem is, there are still plenty of people who do not get it, and voice opinions like these about me and the other women on the show:

…that depression or anxiety can be solved by just relaxing a little: “I’m a mom of three and understand the stress of being the perfect mom … but wouldn’t take a pill or drink to make things better. When stress hits, meditate, take a break and relax.”

…that we take medication or have a glass of wine to be able to “tolerate” our children: “I can honestly say I loved being with my kids when they were small … never felt like I needed anything to be able to tolerate my children.”

And my favorite … that we’re actually a bunch of whiners and maybe should never have had kids: “these mom’s don’t know what work is, 50 years ago it was a lot harder & nobody whined about it or Used to cope.”

“What is wrong with this generation??? I had 3 kids, spread out in age, kept a clean house, cooked meals from scratch, volunteered in the schools and worked part time. Never had the thoughts of drinking taking meds. Buck up, girls. You must have too much time on your hands…”

“If you cannot deal with being a mother, without drinking or taking medication, perhaps you should not have had them. This is pathetic. Try exercising with your children…like going to the park?”

MISSING. THE. POINT.

Let’s get something straight. The women on the show who need medication for ADD, anxiety, and/or depression aren’t “taking drugs” for kicks. We have chemical imbalances in our brains that require medication.

We’re not whining. We’re not having a hard time due to lack of exercise. WE HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION.

And you know what? Occasionally having a glass of wine with friends while the kids play does not equal alcoholism or bad parenting, people.

All these women commenting online who “never have to resort to pills” or whose own mothers “lived in a tougher time without all the stuff we had today and did just fine” – well, that’s just great. I’m happy for you. Truly.

I’m happy that your mother didn’t have PPD or depression or ADD or anxiety.

I’m happy that if she did, she managed it successfully so you’d never know.

I’m happy that you have no problem sailing through life and enjoying every minute.

And I’m happy that you can simply meditate your everyday stresses away.

Really. I’m glad that you had a rosy childhood and that things are going well for you.

But not everyone’s like you. And your words sound kind of mean and like you’re rubbing your happy, perfect life in our faces. So please be more kind and stop with the judging, m’kay?

(Gosh, it’s just so hard to understand why women are afraid to admit they deal with mental health issues, huh?)

You know, at the end of the day, there will always be controversy over this topic. People are still not comfortable with depression and chronic illnesses that reside in the brain.

Yet what gives me hope is, from what I’ve seen, the positive comments about the women on the episode of “Katie” that I was on FAR outweigh the negative.

Honestly, it took me this long to write a follow-up post about the show because I’m still reading through all the lovely comments people have left on my Facebook page. I’m still responding to thankful emails from people. I’m still going through messages of support, hope, and optimism overflowing from my social media accounts.

The controversy is what attracts attention. But in the end, it’s not what will last.

What will last is the caring, the support, and the kind words that so many women have been showing each other as they courageously talk about their depression and other battles.

What will last are the communities of like-minded, supportive moms on sites like Moms Who Need Wine, Honest Mom, and countless others.

What will last is the hope that the more we talk, the less we’ll judge.

That’s what will last.

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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