I have four beautiful children and an amazing husband. We have good jobs, cars that run well, families that love and support us, a home in a beautiful neighborhood, and every blessing I could ever imagine. So how, when you’re handed everything that would make a “normal” person happy, can you dread every single day and have no desire to make it out of bed? Why do you snap at your kids just because they want to hug you and you have no desire to be touched? Why do you turn down offers for play dates and park outings with friends because you can’t stand the thought of getting ready? How does the smallest, most insignificant thing leave you in the closet sobbing and wanting to tear your hair out? Why do you turn the TV on for the kids so they will leave you alone when friends are right outside the door, confused about why you won’t answer their calls or return their texts?
Along with the earlier questions, I also would ask myself: What’s wrong with me, and why can’t I just be happy? Why don’t I like being a mom or find joy in the same things my friends do? Did God make me flawed because I don’t love the things I’m supposed to find joy in? Why does He want me to do this if it’s so hard? The kids are healthy! Life is good! There are no deadly illnesses or traumatic events knocking on my door. What. Is. Wrong. With. Me? Do I even have the ability to be happy, or know what happiness is?
Since I had my first child (and long before that, to be honest), I’ve fought through many emotions – embarrassment, numbness, and denial. Sometimes I’m confident in my ability to “beat” this and help others fight their battles, but the reality is that “this” – anxiety and depression – are my life. It’s who I am, it’s what I’m made of, and it’s not my fault. And it’s really not going away. I can’t wish it away, or exercise it away, or clean it away. I have to take the steps to care enough about ME to be happy – not my kids, or my husband, or my friends – but care enough about ME.
I’m passionate about the benefits of medication and therapy, but I also recognize that everyone’s story is different. We all have to do the things we feel good about. One of the most important things I’ve learned through this battle is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do things – the goal is to constantly be evolving and changing for the better. For a season it may be medication, but at a later time, it may be something different. No matter what it is that makes you feel better, it shouldn’t be compared to what works for someone else.
Finally, I wish women understood that feeling this way doesn’t make them flawed. It is okay. It is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. It does not make you weak. It does make it hard to reach out when you need help, and can even cause you to withdraw into yourself. It does make life seem unbearable and hard sometimes, and it does make it difficult to see a way out or to find a reason to keep living. But, don’t give up hope.
As my kids are getting older and I feel the load lessened, I wish I could go back ten years ago and give myself a hug, remind myself to let it all go. Every day can be a little bit better, and there are always people that love you that are willing to shoulder your burdens until you can carry them again.