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February 27, 2007 / missknowitall

Distressed About Being Depressed

Dear Little Miss,
I have been struggling with depression for many years and have even been hospitalized for it. Mostly to balance out hormones after 2 miscarriages. I have been very prone to depression. I have been through many struggles and I am in a bout of depression and do not know how to pull myself up. I do know the basic: Are you praying blah blah. But I am having a hard time feeling “ANYTHING”. I do not even want my Husband to touch me and I am very cranky to my kids. Help! I do not want to go on Medication! 
 

Dear Numb and Depressed,

First, I want to tell you: you are not alone!  Depression and feeling disconnected and numb seem to be very common side effects of motherhood.  People always say that motherhood is the most rewarding career you can have , and, as a mother, I totally agree with this.  However, it should also be said that motherhood is one of the toughest, most challenging, and frankly, quite abusive careers a woman can have too.  The main reasons why mothers suffer depression are hormone fluctuations, and lack of sleep (the hormone fluctuations don’t really help you in the sleep area, either).  Lack of sleep in extreme forms has been clinically proven to mimic insanity.  I like to call it crazy-tired.  Crazy-tired is a very serious thing.  If you’ve read all the big cases of baby blues you will recognize sleep deprivation in a lot of them.  Add the fact that we mothers tend to put children and family above our selves and we have “loosing our sense of self” which causes us to feel disconnected and numb.

Here is what I think you should do:

1.  Track your sleep.  Are you really waking up refreshed in the morning?  If not, ask yourself, “why?”.  Are you so concerned about keeping the house clean, making dinner, etc… that you don’t feel you deserve or have the time to sleep?  It may be a good investment to get a maid or eat out more so that you can have time to rest for a while.  If you start to stress about the cost of these things just tell yourself that you would have to pay for therapy and medication otherwise.  If you really don’t have the money then let your house go a little.  Let go of the burdens that aren’t letting you sleep.  You should also ask your husband and children to help around the house more (just don’t set high expectations or you may feel “un-loved” by their lack of ability).

2.  Take some time for you.  If you have lost your sense of self then you are just an empty shell of a mommy.  There needs to be a “you” inside your mommy uniform if you want to be able to give your family what they need.  Take a couple of weekends without kids to go find an outfit, maybe some jewelry, a new book (not another cook book or parenting book, but a guilty plaesure book), or just go do something that is un-mommy.  You may have to take some time just to figure out what you like about yourself that isn’t mommy.  Even if it means dying a pink streak in your hair to show the world that there is something more than just mommy going on with you.  I find I have to do this kind of self finding at least once a year or I start suffering the same things you mention above.

3.  Get some good friends to gab with.  Motherhood creates a lot of mess when it comes to emotions and a good way to keep those emotions clean is to get rid of the bad ones.  Do you have an understanding soul to dump this stuff on?  The first year after moving far from family I started really sinking into depression because I was so alone.  I had friends but I felt like I could only show them my good side.  I finally found a friend and told her I just needed a good dumping buddy to listen to all my trash.  She accepted and we both swap gripes and complaints on a weekly basis and I will always be grateful for what she has done for me.  Therapists are supposed to help in this area, but I find friends are better because when they share their trash with me it makes me feel more normal.

4.  Through all this, and through all the rough times that will come again, remember to reach out to your family.  You may feel emotionally distant right now but I’m pretty sure that logically you know how much you love and treasure your family.  If you didn’t you wouldn’t be going through all this in the first place.  So let them know.  Tell your kids you love them, even though you feel like they are sucking out your life force.  Tell your husband you are grateful for his patience and how much you need him in your life.  Write in your journal the things you are grateful for.  It helps to have it written somewhere so you can look at it and remind yourself on the really bad days.

The last few things I want you to do:  Share this with your husband.  Read some books about baby blues, and motherhood depression and share it with your family.  This will help them know what they need to do to help you.  Remind them that the care they give you will be an investment so that you can continue to care for them.  And lastly, if you do all this and it doesn’t work, or if you feel you are getting deeper into the depression then please see a doctor or a therapist.  It is always better to be safe than sorry (this is one of the mantras of mothers, isn’t it? so I had to say it).

From one crazy-tired mom to another,

Miss Knowitall

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One Comment

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  1. Bill Jackson / Feb 27 2007 10:40 am

    Go skydiving and/or do something that will exhilarate your body and bring a smile once again to your face.

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