It so happened that I bought some St John's Wort tablets. They were on special and let's face it, specials are my heroin.
But we don't approach depression the natural way in this little household and so it was that my little bottle of "Mood" sat unused and feeling less and less like a bargain every day.
These were top shelf vitamins. It was burning my arse just thinking of them going out of date. Surely I knew someone sad?
Visiting a mumma friend recently, she told me she needed to offload about the shitful week she'd been having. It was Friday – the week had been loooong.
Yes! I thought, She's perfect!
"Hey," I said, "I have the perfect vitamins for you! I think they're meant especially for sad housewives."
"Yes! I will take them!" she said, "But is that really how you think of me? As the sad housewife?"
"No!" I protested. And then, "But also, maybe, yes. Aren't we all sad housewives though?"
We talked at length about being at home with kids and how some weeks, we just don't have what it takes to survive the day to day shit. At least not with anything resembling patience and grace. Every day brings challenges but it's alarming during how many of them we feel like we've dropped the ball. Or, like, kicked the ball into the traffic and prayed for the children to follow it.
I think this is a universal affliction for anyone who cares for small children on a day to day basis.
So when does it cross over from being a normal motherhood malaise to something more? Something that we could do something about? When do the rigours of motherhood turn into unnecessary suffering?
My friend and I talked about her shitful week and we could both see that there were some post-natal markers there but she was very quick to refer to the miserable weather, her period, all of those external factors that, when coupled with raising little ones, can make anyone feel like they're operating from a place of insanity.
But I wonder if we do ourselves a disservice by being so quick to dismiss our low moods. Of course, I don't advocate for people to medicate at the first sign of moodiness but I think we could put our own wellbeing closer to the front of the queue.
I denied my depression for a long time. For me, this was the wrong thing to do and amounted to me suffering for a lot longer than was necessary. I am very grateful I was diagnosed long before becoming a mum because I can't imagine the hell of new motherhood coupled with new mental illness. Scary stuff.
For me, the answer was anti-depressants.
For others, regular exercise, drinking less alcohol or getting out of the house more can be exactly what they need to shift the clouds. If that's what it takes, how brilliant!
But for many, no amount of fresh air and sunlight will work.
No-one wants to admit to being that person. People want to believe they're not that bad. I can't blame them. No-one wants to be clinically depressed.
But how many mothers are suffering needlessly because of this?
Another friend recently confessed to me that she thought she might be depressed. She had not wanted to believe it. This was so out of character for her. She finally decided she didn't want to be feeling the way she did any longer. She saw her GP and together, they talked through her options. I think just taking that initial step opened up a pathway to getting better. I spoke with her the other day and her voice just filled me with such joy. Where a month or so earlier, I had heard that vacant, flat voice of depression, now I was hearing her authentic, joyful voice again. It was fucking magic.
For this friend, some simple lifestyle changes have helped her enormously. And I'm so glad it could be relatively straightforward for her.
When I spoke to her in the midst of her depression, I encouraged her to seek natural methods first as was her desire. But I also urged her to admit if that wasn't working and go back to her GP for another course of action. As disappointed as we might be to realise it's not going to be as simple as more exercise, it's so important to keep exploring our options – even the ones we really, really didn't want to consider.
Life is too short to lose another moment to depression.
And to my friend, the sad housewife? I'm giving her my "Mood" and my shoulder. Any time.
You are an awesome friend little mumma xx awesome mumma too!
Thank you, Fran. You’re a doll. And I rate your opinion highly so this is especially lovely to read. xxx
Ive been reading your blog for awhile now.. This entry was the hardest one for me to read. Maybe because all of what you write about here is all I try to run away from. It’s not even about being a person with depression and having a Dr tell me it is that. It’s I dont want to turn into my mum… so instead I just try to ‘deal’ or push ‘aside’ the things that bother me the most. I only hope ONE DAY I might find the strength to take myself somewhere to have things sorted and on the right track.
I thank you so much though for all your honesty and straight to the point posts : )
It doesn’t seem to matter how far we’ve come, there is still a stigma there. A stigma and a lot of misunderstanding about what constitutes depression.
I don’t think it helps when people use the term “depressed” in an offhand way either. You can have a bad day or even a bad few days but when it becomes the norm rather than the exception, I think it’s time to pull out the “d” word.
There is no shame in asking for help. It doesn’t mean you are not coping or that you are somehow a lesser person.
I found the antidepressants helpful – things bounced off me a bit more instead of hitting me in the face and that is what you want. You need to be able to get out of bed each morning and keep going. Definitely worth a try if the usual methods don’t seem to be helping.
Oh Ajj, I am virtually hugging the shit out of you right now.
Thank you for taking the time to comment. I know that it can’t have been easy for you.
I don’t know your history but I do know that you are NOT your mother. You are your own person. And that person deserves to feel so much better.
I hope you will find your way through. xxx
Indeed. For many people, they serve a short-term purpose. And for new mums, it’s just so important to not feel like you’re drowning. It’s hard enough without trying to play down PND.
Why the stigma? It’s frustrating and keeps so many people trapped in a cycle of sadness.
That said, I do wish I wasn’t so fucking nuts. But I fucking am!
The stigma needs to go, that’s for sure. Be gone, stigma, be gone!
I wish I lived around the corner from you. You’re a great friend. x
Right back atcha, lady. I would love to hug your belly button for real. 🙂
“Or, like, kicked the ball into the traffic and prayed for the children to follow it.” Oh, you’re a funny one, Angie! This made me giggle. 🙂
On to more serious subjects, I am on Zoloft, 100mg a day to be exact! I fought it for awhile, not wanting to take anti-depressants and be relying on medication, but after awhile thought, fuck it, I WANT to feel better, and just normal. I couldn’t take the crippling anxiety, the absolute feelings of sadness and despair and the fear inside me anymore. So, I started on 50mg, felt a bit better but still very anxious, so the dr upped my dose and I’m feeling a lot better these days. It does scare me how reliant I am on my pills though. I missed a does for two days last week, and on the third day I felt the anxiety creeping back, and just felt very uneasy and unsettled. So I filled my new script and felt ‘normal’ again a couple of days later. I do wonder if i’m always gonna have to take them though… That scares me.
Debbie, firstly, happy to have made you laugh! Clearly, you have a twisted sense of humour…. 😉
Zoloft is also my drug of choice and I love that I still have all the normal highs and lows but without the manic extremes anymore. I know some people feel zombied out by ADs but I wonder if they’re taking the wrong one?
I also have moments when I wonder if I’ll be on them for life and I’m not entirely comfortable with that possibility. But my mum is a voice of reason in this. She says no-one would ask a Type 1 diabetic if they were going to try and get off their medication. Why should treating a mental illness with medication be seen any differently? It’s a medical condition and a serious one at that.
Bottom line; I don’t ever want to feel that low again. Life is too short. I am grateful there is a solution. And becoming a mother has given me even greater incentive to be as well as I can possibly be.
Thank you for sharing with me, Debbie. xx
My mother suffered from depression and they didn’t have antidepressants in her day. The doc just kept giving her the benzos, you know, valium, mogadon, serepax etc and they just veged her out and confused her to the point where she walked out in front of cars (accidentally)and got very cross when I took her to task for it. I thought she had dementia until a lovely country doctor eased her off them when she was in a bush nursing hospital. Bless him.
Then I got my own dose. Yes there had been some difficulties in my life but I’d got through them and was living with the man I love so what was this gray feeling enveloping me? I so didn’t want it to be depression.I felt embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to know But, after some trial and error, my doc put me on Efexor, another drug in the same family as Zoloft, and it WORKED. Oh the relief. I am sad that my little girl had to suffer the same disease but so grateful that we have the medication that puts us right. Unlike my mum.
We are a family of crazies, no?
But don’t knock Valium, lady! I won’t hear a word against it…..
I adore your writing (and you), such a talent, such wonderful words.
It’s so hard to know where the lines between depression, low mood, sleep deprivation, frustration, and adjusting to being a mum are. I too denied it for a long time, once I put it out there, the recovery began. Are all of us bloggers depressed?????
Hi Angie! Oh yes, my sense of humour is very twisted lol. That’s why I like reading your blog! 😉
Your mum makes a lot of sense. She is spot on! But, I often have to remind myself that it’s okay that I feel sad and depressed and anxious, that it IS a serious illness, that i’m not just feeling sorry for myself! I know quite a few people that think depression is something that you can just snap out of (you know, stop feeling so sorry for yourself and so on!), and it makes me hesitant to talk to anyone about my depression, and it makes me wonder if my depression is a figment of my imagination, even though I know it’s not. But I too don’t ever want to feel that low again. I owe it to my kids to sort my shit out and get better. I owe it to me too. I’m worth it (yes Debbie, just keep saying it over and over again till it sinks in…)!
Sorry if I have been rambling! It’s late, i’m tired… It’s just nice to feel when someone is on a similar wave length to you. 🙂
Knowing you’re not alone is the best feeling. Not that I would wish depression on anyone but I think part of the solution is sharing what is actually quite a common problem.
People who think you can snap out of it, that you just need to ‘cheer up!’ have NEVER been depressed. And those kinds of attitudes do make us reluctant to talk about it. But actually, those attitudes are the reason I am so vocal about it – because people need to be educated about what is really going on and know how destructive those careless, misinformed comments are.
Hope you got a good sleep last night. God knows that always helps! xxx
Thank you, blossom. xxx
Yes, the waters are murky for new mums. I think that’s why so many go undiagnosed.
And as to us bloggers? Oh god, probably!
I developed severe postpartum and anxiety after the birth of my third daughter. It has been a long, long, long hard road. But through lots of help and support, I am finally getting there.
I love your comment that people who think you can just snap out of it have never been truly depressed. Amen.
It’s amazing how many “sad housewives” there are out there. Actually, have you ever met any truly happy ones? Your friend is lucky to have you around to help brighten her day. Cheers.
This post is like a gift to me today. I’m in the midst of those murky waters. I’m trying to find my way out, and the things you pondered over are what I ponder over too. Aren’t we all sad housewives? Are the things that make me sad things I can change? Or do I need some help? How do I know?
It’s nice to hear other people pondering the same things. Because none of us are alone with this.
It is important to make sure we put ourselves first. Great post. To whoever you finally give your st, john’s wort pills too, let them know it lowers the effectiveness of your birth control. Last thing a sad housewife needs is an unexpected pregnancy. 🙂