Mothering Depression

I have been waiting for the right moment to introduce the raison d’être for this blog.

This isn’t the right moment.

There isn’t a right moment.

So, today’s the day. Along with the creativity, the humour, the studies, the family, the career, the idealism, and everything that else that makes me me, I suffer from life-long, hormally-induced, always-just-around-the-corner depression.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have managed to build a very full, very fabulous life, and it includes a wealth of loving supporters. Even on my worst days, I can still get out of bed, do my job, trust myself to parent reasonably well, and just plain trudge through until bedtime. I know lots of people who have no volatile brain chemistry to speak of who can’t claim as much.

I’ve worried for years now about how I can make a difference in the world, how I can contribute to real, lasting, fundamentally important change. I try to do and be my best in the small, everyday things. I create and share beauty whenever I can. I recognize that at this stage in my life I am building the foundation, with my studies and my career and my family and my home – and that when things settle down a bit I will have tons of time and energy to volunteer and get involved. I know that raising a child is the most fundamentally important contribution to society there is. But I chafe at the waiting.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that there is something that I can do, right now, that is sorely needed in the world. And that is to raise awareness about the reality of depression. And to provide some sense of been-there-done-that to other mothers, be they working in or out of the home, who have had or do suffer from depression too. We exist. And we get through the days (because when you have a kid, there’s no such thing as not getting out of bed, regardless of whether you think you can). And we are all around – but are likely pretty quiet about it.

Let me clarify here that I’m not talking about postpartum depression (PPD). I’m talking about depression that dates back, on and off, to my adolescence, which happened to raise its ugly head during and after pregnancy. There is so much information and support (all good things, don’t get me wrong) about PPD, but the fact of the matter is that PPD is generally episodic – it goes away. It’s seven kinds of hell, and then some, but it GOES AWAY. My kind of depression, in contrast, takes breaks. And then comes back.

One of the things I had the most difficulty with during my pregnancy (and obviously still have attitude about) is that pretty much all the social support I could find was only oriented towards PPD. I was even told flat out while pregnant that I did not qualify for a wait list for a PPD discussion group because I had not yet had my baby. Apparently, pre-partum depression has no traction here in grand ol’ Ottawa Family Services. I did eventually qualify for that waiting list, ending up both with a baby (surprise, those seem to result from pregnancy), and with diagnosed PPD. But, by the time a spot opened up, I was going back to work full-time (having had to start mat leave 2 months early due in part to said non-qualifying pre-PD), and the group only met during work hours.

And of course, that’s when the depression really hit with a vengeance – about 6 months after going back to work, when I just plumb ran out of reserves, from (yup, I actually really did all this):

  • working full-time at a demanding career,
  • getting up all night because my 18-month old still did not sleep through the night and my husband couldn’t seem to get him to go back to sleep no matter what he did – but I could,
  • studying part-time (and flunking, duh), and
  • helping my husband through a mid-life crisis and heart-attack scare.

All of which to discover (surprise!), that you no longer qualify as PPD when your kid is no longer an infant.

Hmm, yup, I think there’s a little bit of attitude in there, somewhere.

So, all this to say, that you CAN be a supermom and have depression too. It’s just one more thing to manage.

The good news? Kids aren’t a cure (often being an aggravating factor), but they sure do help a whole lot. I have my own private giggling ball of sunshine just waiting for me to get home.


2 comments so far

  1. Lynn on

    Thanks for sharing…I think it’s very brave of you, and also so great that you know when you need to get help. I think depression is something that a lot of people try to ignore or pretend does not exist for them, when really it is so very okay to ask for help. I’m looking forward to reading more about your experiences.

  2. Moosilaneous on

    You continue to astound me. (gee, I wonder where Bonhomme gets it?)
    I applaud your frankness and courage.
    With you all the way, here.

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