Motherhood and depression do not go well together.
Well, obviously. Depression doesn’t go well with anything –
except maybe a songwriter penning an emo ballad.
But the reason I’m thinking of specifically is how confusing
it can be to determine what is genuine depression and what are the normal
frustrations that all mums deal with. Certainly any time I have discussed the
harder moments in my mothering journey here on the blog, I have been met with a
resounding chorus of support. So many of you identify with the challenges I
face and assure me that I am normal.
And we can’t all be depressed.
But some of us genuinely are. And the muddy waters of
motherhood can make it difficult to pinpoint the moment when we have crossed
over from normal woes and are headed into something more serious. As
much as hearing “We all feel this way!” is a welcome relief, by allowing myself to be comforted by well-meaning friends, am I forgoing the diagnosis of a professional?
Where exactly does normal end?
For instance, are these normal things to shout at your
“Everyone leave me the fuck alone!”
“Why do you have to make things harder for me, you little
“I need a break. I need
to be away from all of you. Just go AWAY!”
Because these are all things I have shouted at my children. Today.
And it always follows that whenever I need distance most,
they won’t leave my side. Can’t. The
angrier I get, the more they cling, so desperate for a soft word from their
mum. And even though I know it, can see it so clearly in their faces, sometimes
I can’t give it to them.
Mostly their little faces, apprehensive but still hopeful,
are enough to bring me back. But not always. Not today.
So the question remains, what is normal?
The school holidays are into their second week. The 24-sevenness of it all is relentlessly exhausting. I allow myself this concession. There are other things on my mind lately, too. But the things I have said to my kids, the way I am
feeling, is not normal. At least, I don’t want this to be normal. I want to be
better than this. To feel better.
I am a better mother than this.
But you know what the worst part is? The immediate and complete forgiveness my children offer me. If, in the midst of my ranting, I dropped to my knees and embraced them, they would fall right into my arms without taking so much as a moment to register the whiplash.
Oh, my heart. My shame.
And then there is the self-consciousness in writing these posts. I fear judgment. Not from my fellow mums who identify and empathise – I know you are the majority. But I fear the readers who stumble across my blog, rolling their eyes way back into their heads at another mummy blogger moaning about how hard it is to be a mummy. And when these (imaginary?) critics ask me, "If it's so hard, then why the hell do you keep having more kids?" I say to them, "Excellent question! I'll be damned if I know."
But I do know. The constant requirements of motherhood, the dispute resolutions, the grabbing hands and shrill demands, a dizzying swirl of need that winds itself around my legs all day long – it shadows the beauty of motherhood but it can not erase it. And though I lose my head, these little people just wait patiently for the storm to blow over and for their mum to return to them.
I always do.
I always do.
I love that you speak your truth Ang…..raw and real. And I’m part of the majority that can relate. Xo
Thank you, babe. That means so much to me. xxx
Oh Ang. I hear you. Take deep breaths, this too shall pass. Xx
Thank you so much. Breathing now. xx
Today I also screamed two of those three sentences and for the rest of the time I just yelled go away go away go away or I’ll loose it.
All I can say is thank god for zoloft and a nice cup of tea when they are in bed. 💓
You are awesome mumma and they love you even after you yell at them.
Hey darlin’ , no, you can’t forgo a professional diagnosis, and I suspect, a knowing in your bones, just because we all have mummy moments in common. Our war stories will share a theme, but the depths we fall to are what needs to be looked at I think, what needs to be supported. I too, have shouted “just shut up” at the kids, but it’s not often and I watch for that point where I know I’ve tripped over the precipice.
I read a piece about getting it right 66% of the time is enough to prevent fucking our kids up… What do you think?? I hang on this when I’m having not so proud moments/ days.
Much love xoxoxox
Tears of guilt… It’s awful. I hate it, but can’t help it, at times… I pray that my babes know me, the real me, that’s the one I want to be all the time… I know I’m a great mum, I know my boys adore me and love me, but why do I keep saying to myself “my poor boys”
Eh… Gut curdling guilt.
Much love to you xxx
Hugs, sweetie. Must be something in the air (something shitful!).
They do love me even after I yell at them. How?? They amaze me.
Thank you so much, honey. xxx
Just 66%? Surely we’re doing that, babe? God, I hope so.
I can’t imagine you ever yelling anything at your kids, honey. I really can’t. You seem like zen personified. Born to mother. And you’re so right, the theme is the same but I suspect I fall a little further than the average mumma.
I suspect this low spell is situational. There’s a bit going on. But I’m still seeing my psychologist and will no doubt examine this inside out. Sigh.
Oh, honey. Go gently. You are a beautiful mum as you know. But life has thrown some stuff your way and I know you are doing everything in your power to get through it. I think you’re awesome, I really do.
Hang in there, Rones.
Sending love and hugs.
I sat my kids down before I went into hospital to give birth to George and tried to explain how things would be different after the baby. ‘You know how Mum’s been yelling so much and not patient and really grumpy?’ They looked blankly at me. ‘Mummys not been her normal happy self, you know?I’ve been very grumpy. ‘ They said ‘Have you?” DID NOT NOTICE. I had been feeling that guilt you’re talking about for months. They didn’t notice.
Your little ones know how much you love them. It’s totally clear. Also,school holidays with three tiny kids are so so tough. I know exactly what you’re talking about.
That said, you know when you’re losing grip a little on keeping the screaming in your head from leaking out into the actual screaming. Time to activate some self-care crisis management stuff perhaps?
Daycare/playdate swapsies time, babysitter booking, find some space Ange.
Best of luck. xxxxRach
Actually it’s 33%……according to attachment theory research (Circle of Security) 🙂
Your posts resonate with me more than you know. Bless you for your honesty on this, the hardest and most rewarding of journeys….motherhood! I wish I had friends like you to talk with when I’m finding myself struggling. As someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression, I KNOW how tough it is and all the second-guessing that comes with it. Hugs.
I screamed that last one to my kids just recently, really, really loud, i just absolutely and completely lost it and all sense of control. I felt awful for days but as you say, they are so forgiving, ready to give you a hug which just breaks your heart 🙁 I yell all the time, not because they are naughty because mostly they aren’t, i scream because…. i don’t really know why? and I hate it
I’d say follow your heart, Angie. If it’s space you need – take it. If it’s unloading on a professional – do it. You are a wonderful Mumma, not just to those beautiful babes of yours, but to us all… for speaking and sharing your truth. I truly hope the fog lifts for you very soon. X
Oh Angie…. I may not have screamed those words at my kids, but I’m guilty of thinking them too. Often. I do not judge, so ignore those imaginary critics. Don’t let them get the better of you.
I’ve said this before, I know, but go easy on yourself, okay? xxx
I hear you Angie, I too can relate to saying those words to my kids on an almost daily basis of late and I would so love to just get in the car and keep on driving away from my family. I know enough about my self to realise that I have unfortunatley crossed the boundary into depression mode and am seeing someone again to try and do something about it. Everyone has their problems and most can sympathise and tell a similar story ‘making’ you feel ‘normal’ but I think deep down if you have had an ongoing battle then you know when maybe something more is going on. Hugs to you and I know you’ll get on top of it all again, your a wonderful mum and those beautiful kids are a testament to how strong and what a great parent you are. xx
Well, shit! Even I can manage 33%! 😉
Yes, I am blessed to have a beautiful support network who are rallying. I am so grateful.
And for the love I get here on the blog? So grateful, too. xxx
Thank you, Kate. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but it is nice not to be alone in feeling this way. xxx
I know. I get it, babe. My kids are good kids. Normal kids making normal requests of me as their mother. But sometimes it’s too much, the relentless needs to be met, and all the while what I need gets buried deeper and deeper.
I know you’re a beautiful mum, Tash. And I also know that you have pressures in your life. So be gentle with yourself. You’re getting through it as best you can. xxx
Thanks, beautiful Bec.
Your words are always sunshine to me.
Okay. I will.
Thank you, honey. xxx
Absolutely. Having been treated for depression for over ten years, I know the signs. And now, the lows are brief and not so very low that I can’t function. Thank goodness (and drugs!) for that.
That blurry line between the normal motherlode and depression is most problematic for women who have not experienced depression before. That worries me.
Thank you for your words, Kylie. They are so meaningful to me. xxx
Oh love. I know that feeling – of yelling and saying things you never thought you’d say and knowing you shouldn’t say them but really not giving a shit. And knowing, equally, that you should take a deep breath and offer a soft word but not being able to do that either and mostly not giving a shit but having that tiny bit of guilt creep in.
That’s my sign too.
I know. It’s not just you. And it’s okay to say it’s not okay.
Sometimes I wonder if I have rage issues – because when I want to be alone and no one will leave me alone I end up yelling out things I wish I never thought to say. Not at all alone and for whatever reason we all have a cross to bear. The fact you acknowledge it and think about it and try to do better speaks volumes on your character and inner fortitude. xx
No advice from me, just love. You are a wonderful mumma and I am thinking of you xx
Yes, the knowing better but doing it anyway. The not giving a shit. Until you do and then it’s time to be eaten alive by guilt. Yay!
Yeah. All of that.
Today is better but I am keeping an eye on me.
Yes, the rage. The fucking rage. Scary sometimes.
But I know that YOU are a beautiful mother. so maybe I am, too. xx
Thank you, Annie. And so much love back to you. xxx
You are amazing. Truly. These are demons I’m facing regularly. It’s a battle to keep the Black Dog out of my life. Stand strong and tall. You are doing an amazing job. The fact you recognise it is half the battle. xxx
Again, amazing honesty Angie. You are so amazing the way you put this all there. It is a gift to the world, and to so many women who struggle on a daily basis. I am definitely not depressed, but I definitely have yelled statements at my kids similar to those you have shared. I am not proud. And my shame, I guess, is a good thing for my children, because it provokes me to do something about it.
When I did suffer from depression as a teenager and in my early twenties though, it was closely linked with rage. I think these days, when I get angry, something like depression closely follows. But likewise, rage can come out of feeling under-resourced and sad.
You are so right to draw out the confusing matter about how we separate normal motherly stresses from depression. I suppose that is why the psychological profession has an actual clinical diagnosis of depression – so it is possible to discriminate. I think feeling bad from time to time is very very normal. It is when it completely f*cks your life that it needs to be attended to.
Thank god we live in a time when depression is talked about so openly.