Moms are supposed to be perfect. Our parenting, hair, our postpartum body, our dedication and care for our partner or spouse. Depression is not a welcome obstacle to Motherhood. How do you know when you’re a depressed Mom? When is fatigue depression or a bad day more than a mood? I draw the line at depression interfering with my kid’s daily lives, my life as their Mom and for them, I am taking an antidepressant.
Depression was something that I have struggled off with off and on. However, I never expected to deal with depression while parenting. My children are the best part of my life. Spending time with them makes me so deeply happy, and I love them with all of my heart. How could I become depressed?
I’m not sure if I can pinpoint the moment it started. After the birth of my first son, an induction that went very wrong and ended in an emergency c-section, I cried for about 6 weeks straight. I was exhausted, in pain and dealing with a fussy baby 24/7. I remember sitting in my OB’s office at my postpartum appointment. I was handed a one-page postpartum depression screening to fill out and the questions were ridiculous.
The form asked about feelings of hurting myself, hurting my baby and general unhappiness. I never felt like hurting either of us, but I was deeply sad and tired. Fatigue beyond the huge loss of sleep I was experiencing. The form also felt extremely clinical and as if the office was completely detached. They obviously had been given the form by corporate or agency requiring them to “screen” Moms for postpartum depression. Maybe by their legal department, but it did not feel as if they actually cared to address postpartum depression.
Time passed and I began to feel better. My baby was crying less, we were able to leave the house and getting fresh air from walks really helped improve my mood.
Several years passed, 3 more babies were born and it seemed as though with each passing month my fatigue returned. It would come and go, but eventually didn’t leave. I was miserable and it showed.
Every morning, I found myself waking up wanting to go back to sleep. I woke up…needing a nap. Yes, my children are poor sleepers but this is more than that.
In addition to fatigue, I have this persistent deep feeling of sadness. Many days I think about death. I think about the day I’ll have to leave my children, how they will feel, who will love them and who will be by their side when the time comes for them to pass, hopefully as old men who have lived a very fulfilling life.
I think often about my disabled child. I wonder about his future, how he’ll walk as a grown man. Who will help him if I’m not available and if he’ll wind up alone in a nursing home from his disability. If he’ll even grow to be an old man.
This can’t go on vs obstacles
I realized that I don’t want to live this way. I knew this, but knowing something and acting on it are two different things. I found many obstacles.
As a breastfeeding Mom, I often thought about taking medication but did not want to interfere with breastfeeding my son. I mean I was depressed, but giving up breastfeeding would really make me feel like a failure.
In addition, getting to the doctor’s office is extremely hard. My husband works a lot, and when he doesn’t he’s not receptive to watching the kids so I can do anything “me” related.
I googled local psychologists a few times, but found very few or no one who would accept my insurance, I also went about two years uninsured and finding someone to watch my brood so I could attend a regular appointment is nearly impossible.
As time passed, my youngest son began approaching the age of two. His nursing deceased to maybe two or three times a day and I found the opportunity to attend an appointment with my primary care doctor.
Getting on medication
I sat across from my doctor. She was perched on a black stool, unusually low to the ground with a small laptop on her knees. She looked at me and asked, “How are you doing?”
When I called to schedule the appointment, I told the receptionist that I wanted an antidepressant and that it was the main reason for my appointment. I knew that she knew why I was there. I felt no embarrassment.
I said “Look, Patty, I need an antidepressant. Years ago, like 17 years ago, I took Wellbutrin and it worked well for me. I need a prescription for that. I wake up needing to go to bed, I am perpetually sad, I think constantly about the fact that we’re all going to die and my son has a bone tumor.” Then, I burst into tears.
I found my tears surprising, because as a Mom…there is no crying. I can’t remember the last time I cried. When can I cry? I can’t cry in front of my children, I can’t talk to my husband and literally everyone else is giving me constant feedback about my performance as a Mom, completely uninvited. Even complete strangers.
There is no crying in motherhood. It’s not allowed, plain and simple.
She inquired about suicide, and I told her that I love life. I LOVE life. I love my kids and I wish we could all go on forever. She sent a prescription to the pharmacy immediately…from her laptop while she sat in front of me.
I know that medication + therapy is the best solution. I learned this in school, I read about this and I wish it were an option. For now, medication will have to do. I told her that while desired, going to therapy appointments is completely out of the question because of my parenting duties. We scheduled a revisit and I was off.
I drove right to the pharmacy and requested that I leave with my prescription. I got myself a giant coffee and took my pill then. Sitting in my car in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts, I started my daily antidepressant routine.
And it gave me hope.
Me, the person who wouldn’t drink coffee during my pregnancies, the person who only eats organic when possible and generally avoids medication…was happy to start taking a mind-altering pill. Why? Because this pill is not for me. This pill is to be a better Mom for my kids. This pill is to help me flip pancakes in the morning, smile more for my children and spend more time living & loving life.
Dear Kids, I’m taking this antidepressant for you. LOVE, Mom.
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