Saturday, November 1, 2008

My very personal struggle with Depression

I've been blogging a lot about scheduling for stay-at-home-moms (domestic engineers) and how the purpose of a schedule is to help us carry out our mission in life.

If you've been following along, we've:

  • Prayed about and written out our mission, and the mission of our family members as we were able.
  • Made chore lists for the home.
  • Made lists for family members outlining commitments, responsibilities, etc.
  • Started whittling down these lists to what is important, because we can't do everything.
  • We've also talked about many other considerations and tips for good scheduling.
Obviously soon we'll reach the step of actually plugging things into a schedule. I have many ideas for how we can go about doing that, but today I wanted to share something that's been on my mind.

Whether or not you have a formal, written schedule, EVERY MOM has a flow to her daily life, whether it is efficient and graceful or not. Some moms thrive on "living in the moment" and don't need to think too far ahead. Others, like me, feel out of control unless they know ahead of time what they need to do to fulfill their many obligations. And some moms.... feel overwhelmed.

"Overwhelmed" and "motherhood" are two words that go together far too often, and every mom feels the pressure of this all-consuming, high-expectation career. However, if you are finding that even the simple daily chores like getting dressed, brushing your hair, and making meals are a struggle, you might be dealing with more than regular stress. You might be dealing with depression.

Confession time ladies. I have depression. I have had post-partum depression more than once, and major depression at other times in my life. It sucks. IT DOES NOT MEAN that I don't laugh. It does not mean that my chores don't get done. They do. It also doesn't mean that I always feel down. And because of these things, depression can be hard to identify or even notice. WHAT IT DOES MEAN is that things are a lot harder to do than they normally would be. And perhaps the pressure of sticking to a rigid schedule, seeking greater control and more perfection is not a good goal for me right now.

I wanted to share this because depression, no matter HOW it happens, can become a physical problem and is treatable, and I see SO MANY MOTHERS who are depressed and suffering without even realizing it. Can I just list for you some of the things I've experienced?

- a great desire to organize my home and get everything "under control"

- at times, shopping when there is no need, to feel better

- at times, eating too much, when i'm not hungry

- at times, not eating enough, trying to lose weight

- feeling GUILT, GUILT, GUILT, and did I mention GUILT?
- not being able to cry or feel great emotion for months

- crying about everything

- trying to live up to self-imposed extremely HIGH expectations (this can be hard to identify)

- having random thoughts of wanting to hurt myself

- having random thoughts of wanting to escape

- drinking alcohol

- self-harm

- not being able to just sit down and enjoy

- thinking about suicide

- been feeling frustrated and impatient with the children (even though I tried not to show it)

- behaving strangely (ok - this could happen at any time... I'm a bit of a nut!)

And sooooo much more. I think it all started the day I had my son, and felt the overwhelming (there's that word again) desire to do EVERYTHING for him... I love him so much. The really extreme stuff I've listed, yes I really have struggled with all of them, BUT they didn't come right away. It came after 7 years of neglecting myself trying to be the perfect wife/mother/daughter/sister/Christian I thought I should be, and denying how I was feeling, thinking a good mother didn't feel anything but joy.

This is hard for me to talk about becuase depression carries with it so much shame, at least it does for me in my head. I just wanted to share in case this helps any of you. I see the signs in sooo many moms I meet, especially new ones. I think that's why I started this blog, to be a support to other mommies. I have needed so much support, and I want to encourage you, make you laugh, give you ideas and tips and just be there.

Some of you may think I'm crazy, and that's ok, in some ways I am. I want to tell you that I'm all better now but that would be a lie. I'm not guaranteed health, proosperity, happiness... anything... except the continuing presence of the LORD who will never leave me, nor forsake me. Feel free to email me if you want to talk, or comment showing your support to other moms who may be having a hard time.

Oh, and if ANY of the above symptoms are familiar to you, I urge you to pray, and be in honest communication with someone you trust. THERE IS NO SHAME IN DEPRESSION, or in being human and having needs. If nothing else, please find a friend for a shoulder to cry on. We need each other. Motherhood is not for wimps!! Haha... makes me wonder why God blessed me with 4?!? :-)

Good night friends. Love and prayers...


Christina said...

I think it's great that you shared this. I too struggled with depression for a long time. God freed me of it in May of this year. There were times I felt so horrible I wouldn't go out of the house. I was about to go on medication when God spoke to my heart and through a book called "Lord I Want To Be Whole Whole" by Stormie Omartian. I have not had a depressive episode in 6 months. I also experienced a lot of the same issues; especially overeating and shopping. But God has made me whole. :)

Spaceofgrace said...

Amen Christina, thank you so much for sharing that with me. It makes me feel so much better to know that i'm not alone. Hugs

Tammie said...

the comforting thing is that many people in the Bible experienced depression. when i am struggling, i take enormous doses of the Psalms--reading and reminding myself throughout the day.

there are so many helpful means of regaining control of my heart and mind so that they don't take control of me. God's grace is perfected in my weakness, so i am learning to glory in my weaknesses and difficulties.

why be ashamed? everyone who lives goes through depression at some time.

Liz said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. The hardest part for me about depression is the shame. Very few of my friends and family know - I am on medication now because of it. It really hit after having my second child - and it hit hard. We joked that the couch would miss me horribly once i started feeling better. Like you said it is nice to not feel so alone in this. It is still a daily struggle with me - I think it always will be.

LKHarris-Kolp said...

I've dealt with depression, too, off and on my entire life. I'm at my worst when I'm by myself, but when I reach out and help someone else, or just spend time with other people like me, it always helps. I pray a lot and writing helps me tremendously. You are very brave to talk about this on your blog. God bless.

Laurie K.

everyday mom said...

I suffer from post partum depression and am glad you were so brave to talk about it.Maybe it will encourage more of us to talk about it to.

Christina said...

Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your struggles and your comfot in God. I tend to be an upbeat person who never wants to admit struggling, but being human, I do. I find that while it is important to realize the problems, face them honestly, and even talk about them, it's improtant to not dwell on them (there are varous reasons for doing that which I will not go into here and now...) but rather to get my focus on God. He's the only One who can give true peace, fulfilment, and wisdom. Just like Peter, getting my eyes on Him helps me to overcome all the "waves" that sometimes make me feel like I'm drowing.

Maggie said...

Thanks for sharing this. I, too, have struggled with some of these issues since having my boys.

Being overwhelmed and stressed out has been a reoccuring feeling for me these last couple of years. I think no sleep for 20 months definitely contributes to these feelings!! (My youngest has never really reached the sleep through the night milestone yet - he'll be 2 in Feb.) =S