Let’s give a big welcome to Av from Brighter Days who today is going to share what it’s like living with depression as a mum for this instalment of #MyFiveThings. If you’ve ever wondered what it must be like suffering from depression whilst being a mum, this post will certainly illuminate you…
You’re not tired, you’re exhausted
Being a parent to a child of any age is tiring enough, but depression brings with it a debilitating tiredness which hangs over you like a heavy weight, you’re barely able to keep your eyes open or string a sentence together. Your body aches and your head screams for sleep but your child wants you to sit and play and somehow despite having no energy, you have to find the strength to join in.
You feel totally emotionally detached
The demons make you feel numb, you don’t feel able to care about anything. Of course, you love your kids just as much as you always have, but once the darkness hits it becomes impossible to express that love. Hugs have no feelings, words mean nothing, and you smile at their laughter knowing you should be sharing their joy but instead you just feel empty.
Your concentration is zero
Your child comes home from school full of stories of their day and it’s all you can do to manage a nod in the right place and a smile at the end. If they asked you to repeat what they’d said you couldn’t, but you hope you’ve got the responses right. It’s not because you’re thinking about anything else. You want to be able to focus on what they’re saying, but you just can’t.
Your confidence is non-existent
All parents question themselves sometimes, wondering if their decisions were right and seeking reassurance from friends and family. Depression strips you of all confidence and you end up doubting every single thing that you ever do for your child. It tells you that absolutely everything is your fault so even the small stuff like your child tripping over, losing a toy or spilling their ice cream means you have failed as a parent and there’s nothing anyone can say that will make you believe differently.
You have to hide the way you feel from others
There’s a massive lack of understanding surrounding mental illness. Pressure to keep the smile on and appear to the outside world as if you’re coping is immense. It’s easier to hide yourself away from other Mothers at groups and parks, easier to isolate yourself from friends in case the smile slips. In turn though you are left trying to survive parenthood alone, scared and fighting a battle that seems endless, whilst constantly doing your best to protect your precious children from noticing anything is wrong with Mummy.
Catch up on previous issues in the #MyFiveThings series here.