Note: I would like to start this post by stating that I know that depression is different for everyone. If it seems like in generalizing at all in this post, just know that I’m only speaking from my own experiences. I understand that no case is identical and this is just my side of it.
I’ve been depressed for pretty much as long as I can remember. Even in childhood, there’s a specific heaviness mixed in with all of those typical kid memories. Back then, I didn’t know what to call it. I was just sad. As I got older and typical teenage hormones kicked it, it got even harder to put my feelings into words, and I got into some really self-destructive behavior– which still shows through after all of these years.
Before I understood depression, I would always get so angry that I was so unhappy. I thought there was something wrong with me, that I was setting my standards too high or that I was too finicky. I thought that maybe I was just one of those perpetually unhappy people. I never thought I would feel truly happy and content. I know now that this isn’t true, but it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that this is my normal.
Depression has, more or less, shaped my life and my habits. I’m an introvert, always have been, so the loner lifestyle suits me. These go hand in hand for me. The days when I shut myself in, when I turn my phone off and ignore the world, are harder hitting, usually coupled with anxiety and emptiness. But, again, I learned to deal.
But I never thought about how depression would affect my parenting style.
In January, I was diagnosed with Depression and general anxiety disorder. I was on Zoloft for a while, but weaned myself because I don’t like being dependent on drugs. I’m still trying to decide if this was a good idea or not.
Some days, I’m Super Mom. I take the kids to the park, we come home and blow bubbles and I make sandwiches in cute shapes and we do crafts and I clean the house and we bake cookies and go swimming. All in one day. And when bed time rolls around, I’m surprised to find myself thinking that I could maybe even keep them up a little longer.
Other days, I’m pretty sure I’m borderline neglectful. I get out of my bed only because I have to. I turn the tv on and plop both kids in front of Paw Patrol until I think my ears may bleed. I make the simplest meals, retreat the the couch, and stare at my phone or a book or the wall all day, counting down the minutes until Brent gets home. The kids talk to me, literally beg for my attention, and I flat out ignore them unless a diaper change or a dangerous situation arises. I shout, they cry, I shout some more, then I feel bad, then they fight and it starts all over again. These are the days when I wish I could just sleep all day and let them fend for themselves. And when bed time rolls around, they’re in bed right away, shut into their room so I can get some peace.
And that’s only when the baby decides she actually wants to sleep.
There are even days, the bad dark days that weigh me down and sneak up and bury me, when I wish I wasn’t a mom anymore. Not so much because I want to forego my momming duties; I just feel like it wasn’t fair to bring children into the world when I’m as unstable as I am.
I spend more time feeling guilty about not taking them to do things, about snapping when I’m angry, about completely checking out, than I do actually doing fun things with them. An entire summer passed with us barely leaving the house because I couldn’t be bothered to shower or eat or get dressed. And I don’t know how to fix this.
I don’t want my kids to grow up remembering my depression. I have many distinct childhood memories of my mom miserable and crying and lonely. I have never cried in front of Kaylee, and it’s been so long since I cried in front of Bryce that I don’t think he remembers. I hope not.
I want them to look back on their childhood and see me as present, and depression is already taking that from us. The anger, the emptiness, the fatigue… it’s like that’s all I’ll be remembered for. Even if it isn’t.
Everyone always says it takes a village, and I’m stranded here on my deserted island. I have no village, not really. And this makes parenting with depression a million times harder. It’s lonely, having depression, but being actually alone here really does not make it any easier.
Some days are better than others and there’s no real “well, for this many good days, I have this many bad days”. My days just sort of happen, and I really hope that I can make the better days outnumber the bad days.