Depression is the most common mental illness in America, affecting more than 15 million people — one in ten will suffer from depression at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And if that stat isn’t depressing enough, women account for two-thirds of all cases. Yet even though so many women suffer from it, one of the hallmarks of depression is feeling utterly alone in your suffering — especially if you’re a mom.
Moms with depression carry a heavy burden. Not only do you have to take care of your own health and wellbeing, but you’re also responsible for the health, happiness, and success of your kids, not to mention, oh, their actual lives. NBD!
Now that your panic attack has passed, how are you supposed to act like a functional adult through a parent-teacher conference when you can barely function at all? Part of being a mom is learning to make do with what you have, even if it’s unwashed hair, sweats, and a bad attitude — just like these moms do.
1. Feeling like a flat-out failure as a mom. “Being a mother with depression means I seriously wonder why I haven’t been fired from this job. It means wondering why my husband hasn’t left me yet. It’s hearing that a stay-at-home mom is worth $150,000 a year and feeling like I am barely worth minimum wage.” —Lizzy V., 39, Charlotte, NC
2. Only buying clothes that double as pajamas. “I had postpartum depression after the birth of my second child. After getting my kids dressed and fed every day, I had zero energy left to do the same for myself. Thankfully, this was when athleisure was becoming a trend. So I bought myself a bunch of comfy, cute stretchy pants, tops, and sweatshirts — and wore them 24 hours a day. It got a little gross by the fourth day, especially if I didn’t have the energy to shower, but it took one thing off my plate and that actually helped a lot.” —Charlie A., 29, Minneapolis, MN
3. Wanting to punch the next person who says, “You should be grateful for what you have.” “Being a mom with depression makes me feel ungrateful. Why can’t I be proud and happy that I have a wonderful family, supportive husband, and good job? Depression makes everything seem black and white to me — there’s no gray in my world, which drives my husband crazy — heck, it drives me crazy too because I can never do it all perfectly.” —Becky E., 37, Kaysville, UT
4. Getting guilt-tripped by your kid’s teacher. “I wish my children’s teachers knew how much I do care and at the same time how much I can’t care. I wish they would please stop looking at me with disapproval in their eyes when I’m late with something. They can’t disapprove of me any more than I already do. But there isn’t anything I can do about it because I’m already doing my best, I’m just proud of myself for being able to get there before someone called social services.” —Lizzy
5. Dealing with mental illness a full-time job — except with no benefits, vacation, or salary. “My first son was born early this year and less than two weeks later I ended up in the psych ward for a week due to severe postpartum depression and a recurrence of my bipolar disorder. I spent four weeks doing an intensive outpatient therapy program, two to three days a week. It felt like getting better from the depression and my other symptoms was a…
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