“Is Mommy making Mommy Sad?”

[UPDATE: I originally wrote this on Jan. 31, 2012. First, things got worse. Then I found a therapist. And I didn’t like her. So, things got worse again. But then I started seeing someone who is wonderful and has helped me tremendously. It’s been a few months now. Therapy is great. I’m also super thankful to my kick-ass family that has only been supportive and caring in the wake of me admitting that I wasn’t doing well. Cheers to that.]

I haven’t been diagnosed with depression. But I have, off and on throughout my life, had darker periods.

I lose motivation, I cry a lot (more than normal, at least), lose all sense of anxiety, become more numb to other people in my life, less attentive to relationships. It’s never anything that feels extreme or that becomes so debilitating that I am forced to do something about it in order to continue my normal life. Part of this, perhaps, is that I lead a pretty cushy life, especially when it comes to day-to-day expectations. I don’t have a 9-to-5 job, I have loose deadlines on the work that I do have, and the money I make is not what keeps us fed. Perhaps if I lived under those conditions I would have had to deal with these sad patches more actively throughout my life.

Anyhow, this is all to say that I am currently in one of the rougher patches I have been in for quite some time. I was trying to finish my dissertation under blistering deadlines that I set while also teaching my first lecture course ever and still be a mom and spend some time with my husband and eat on a regular basis. I started giving up sleep, riding on adrenaline and coffee, and failing at most tasks. Things just were compounding and there was no good ending I could imagine.

I was finally able tonight to admit that it is probably time to go see a professional. And I’m cool with that.

I also need to reset expectations for myself, allow myself to take longer on the dissertation in order to give myself time to sleep and enjoy my family. And that’s okay, too.

Through this all, I have felt the worse when I could see that my sadness/blues/depression was affecting my son. I would just be too out of it, too tired, too lazy, too blah to play with him or interact with him the way he wanted me to. And I knew it. I know it. And I can’t do anything about it. It’s other-worldly, that feeling.

Tonight, finally, after about a month of feeling like I was spiraling down, like I was being eaten up from the inside out, I told my husband over dinner that I was pretty sure I was depressed and that it was time to do something about it. I started crying. It was a good cry, a cathartic cry.

My son, ever aware of my feelings and always worried for them, instantly said, “Why are you crying, Mommy?”

I told him, “I’m sad.” And my husband echoed that. And then I said to my 3yo, “But it’s not about you. You aren’t making me sad.” I had read that kids like to internalize whatever is happening around them so I thought I would at least vocalize what is certainly the truth, even if he doesn’t believe me.

Then my brilliant child in all of his glorious innocence replies, “I’m not making you sad. And Daddy’s not making you sad. Is Mommy making Mommy sad?”

Yes, son. Yes. Exactly.

Exactly.

Hearing those words from my 3yo’s lips were like a moisturizer to my cracked soul.

“Oh. That’s okay, Mommy.”

Yes, son. That’s okay.

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5 thoughts on ““Is Mommy making Mommy Sad?”

  1. I know that someone else telling you “nothing wrong with seeing a professional!” is probably not helpful, but it is true. My husband has been diagnosed with depression, and for a little while tried to go off his medication. He always says that it’s hardest to realize he needs help (and hardest to talk about) when it’s going untreated.

    Not that I’m saying you are clinically depressed, I just wanted to share that sometimes seeing a professional is very good clarity. Thank you for sharing this. I know it’s not always easy to talk about.

  2. Lots of love and virtual support from this corner of the interwebs.

    And the wisdom of these little minds is truly astounding.

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  4. Very young children are far more observant and intuitive than we give them credit for being. Or remember being ourselves. Sending many many good thoughts.

  5. I’m so sorry to welcome you to the club. Depression is awful, and if you haven’t been in its thrall, you can’t really appreciate just how awful it is.

    I just want to reassure you that you are definitely doing the right thing. Depression is not a lack of willpower, and more gumption won’t make it go away. It’s a chemical imbalance, a physical ailment that can be treated through a combination of therapy and medication. There is no more shame in seeking treatment for depression than there is in seeking treatment for heart disease; both are tremendously dangerous, and far too often, fatal.

    I’ve been on medication now for seven years, and it’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was before. I’m not a Prozac proselytizer; you and your doctor need to figure out what’s best for you. What I can tell you is that, cheesy as it may sound, it can get better. So very, very much better. Good luck.

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