This is part 1 in a series of blog posts intended to share how it feels to be a “B.A.D.” mom, that is, a mom with Bipolar, Anxiety, and Depression. My mission is to transform the misconceptions and shame associated with being a mom with these conditions into compassion and understanding, enabling women to parent with iLu – Intention, Leadership, and Unconditional love.
I just threw the phone across the room.
I didn’t throw it hard, because I didn’t care enough to. I threw it because I didn’t give a shit, and throwing it was a great way to express that.
It flew in a nice, high arc and exploded with a pleasing smash on the hardwood floor.
I broke it and I liked it.
I realize this isn’t a good look. I’m aware it’s far from flattering.
But believe me, no matter how much you may judge or regard me with contempt, it could never match the monumental disdain and scorn I sometimes heap on myself, even though I know better.
When I’m severely depressed, time passes in a warped manner. Days go by and when I finally come out of it, I can’t tell you what I’ve been doing for all that time.
When I’m severely depressed, it’s hard to imagine being any other way. During these episodes, although I can recall times I wasn’t depressed; I can’t remember how it actually feels.
It’s like remembering someone I once knew. I know what she looks like, how she talks, and the kinds of things she likes to do. But it’s not me.
In fact, I smirk at her Pollyanna attitude because I know she’ll just return to the dark side with me soon enough.
People who don’t understand depression think it’s some kind of choice.
That if you just try “hard enough” or think positive thoughts you should be able to pull yourself out of it. That thought is a lie that serves only to shame the depressed person further into the pits of despair. It also majorly pisses me off.
Depression is not a lack of motivation.
It’s not feeling sorry for yourself (you hate yourself too much for that).
Nor is it something a person can be cheered out of.
Depression is a mental illness, one that nobody in their right mind would ever choose.
It can perpetuate a downward spiral of hating yourself for being depressed, and then getting more depressed because you hate yourself.
Frankly,if I plunge far enough down into the depths of depression, it’s tough to get myself to give a fuck anymore.
Because when I give a fuck, it hurts.
When I give a fuck, I can see the potential in myself and I grieve for it. I grieve for the relationship I want to have with my daughters. I grieve for the easy-going wife I want to be. And then I get really angry at myself for carrying this bullshit illness.
The worst guilt and shame comes from how it affects my family, particularly my daughters. Hurting them is a torture only a mother can understand. That’s where the self-loathing blazes painfully hot.
If it’s not clear by now, let me make it so – I do not want to be depressed.
I want my daughters to feel light, joyful, and free. I want to play and goof around with them. I want to pull myself out of the refuge of my bed and jump with them on the trampoline, laughing ourselves into tears.
I want to show appreciation for my awesome life (I have plenty to be grateful for). I want to be happy.
I was telling my friend the other day about how it feels when I’m depressed and she said “How do you manage to parent in that state?” Exactly.
Parenting is challenging in any state of mind. With depression, the challenges are compounded. That’s why I’m passionate about being a support for women living with emotional challenges. I don’t want any mom to feel shame or isolation.
The best description of depression comes from Ronald Pies who said that depression is like being “alone on an island of self-loathing”. I’m all too familiar with that island.
I won’t sugar coat how it feels to have depression. I know how impossible it can be to believe that things will ever get better.
But I invite you to consider that depression doesn’t have to feel this way. It doesn’t have to dominate your life.
The key is to have a personalized self-care plan, which is part of iLu Parenting, a simple but comprehensive set of tools and resources I developed to give you exactly what you need to parent with calm confidence..
A critical component of your self-care plan is working closely with your health-care provider. Factors such as nutrition, exercise, medication, therapy, acupuncture, supplements, yoga and many more can all play a part. You and your provider need to find the mix that’s right for you, keeping in mind that it must be regularly revisited and adjusted.
Another key aspect of your self-care plan is a solid support system, so you can stop feeling alone on that island. And before you know it, you can sail off to someplace way more peaceful. Someplace where you can live with depression AND be a happy, nurturing parent. It’s not easy but it’s definitely doable.
My most recent severe depressive episode (which I call being “in the hole”) finally lifted after a relentless six solid days.
I got through it because I’ve been there countless times and I kept reminding myself that it always lifts eventually.
I followed my self-care plan, leaned on my support system, and rode the wave.
You can too.
If you know someone who you think would benefit from this blog post, please share.
I want to hear from you!
Share in the comments below what depression feels like for you. Do you have a self-care plan?
Would you like to learn more about iLu Parenting?
Check out these free resources!