Today we are kicking off a new series called the Real Life Series, in which we share stories written by Nashville area moms, posted anonymously. By and large, these stories are more sensitive in nature or cover topics that may be triggers for some readers. Publishing the piece does not suggest an endorsement by Nashville Moms Blog.
We want to give these writers the chance to share their stories in a safe space. We hope that their stories might resonate with someone else who may realize they are not alone. Topics in the Real Life Series are likely to draw a lot of opinions, but we want to be clear: out of respect for the writers of these pieces, we will be monitoring comments carefully and deleting anything that is shaming, hurtful, derogatory or otherwise abusive.
“I just don’t know how to cope with stress. Everyone else seems to be able to get it all done without feeling like they are losing their mind. Why can’t I? I have no self discipline. I’m being a terrible mother. What does it even feel like to enjoy time with your child?” These thoughts regularly ran through my head less than a year ago. Never did I consider that maybe there was more to how I was feeling than a “lack of discipline.” Hopelessness, anxiety, tears, screaming—these were all feelings and reactions that had become quite familiar over the last several years. Yelling was becoming my go-to. Not just yelling, but literally having moments where I lost control of my emotions and felt insane. In front of my child. What I couldn’t hear? The voice of logic telling me I’d been pushed too far. I needed love and compassion…and help.
When something in life “dared” to go wrong—like a leak in the roof or a crack in the drywall, I became completely immobilized. I could think of nothing but the issue at hand and how it would negatively affect our lives. Focusing on my job was impossible when a stressful situation plagued me. Spending time alone with my child? Torture. All I wanted was to retreat inside my head and figure out how to fix whatever situation we were facing. I’d be this way over the crack in the drywall. And the door ding in my car. Not to mention the new AC unit we had to buy. What I couldn’t decipher anymore was the difference between a catastrophe and a small bump in the road.
Friends told me I was really hard on myself. Compliments felt like people offering me pity—not like true admiration. Tears were never far from the surface and neither was an explosion of anger. Unfortunately, that anger typically directed itself at my husband and child. Even though my actions and tone toward them were terrible, my internal voice and self critic were far worse. What I couldn’t see was the goodness in myself that others saw. And I certainly couldn’t believe that there was a possibility my emotions were being caused by circumstances out of my control.
One day, on a lunch date with a close friend, she dared to say the words.
“I think you might want to talk to someone about starting medication. You seem really unhappy, and really anxious.” Me? Anxious? Depression? Really? Somehow, I had never realized this about myself. She went on to share her story with me. And I knew she felt some trepidation broaching the topic with me. While she had never been the victim of an outburst, she had seen me break over the years. And many times had listened to my exasperated stories of exhaustion and sadness.
The very next day, I saw my doctor.
Tears were shed through my entire appointment. I shared everything weighing me down, including a full-time stressful job and a husband who had been working and in school for years (making him far less present in our lives than I needed). My doctor explained that sometimes our brains hit a point that they can’t turn around from without either (a) LOTS of rest and relaxation (we both laughed at how unrealistic that would be) or (b) medication. Antidepressants that would also help with my depression and anxiety. I saw Plan B as our only option. So I summoned up all my bravery and said “yes.”
Within a week, I felt like a new person.
Most often, it takes longer for medications to work. But for me? I knew very quickly I’d made the right choice. Suddenly, I could start to laugh at small and silly things. It was as if I discovered a new-found love for my child. Tears came again, but tears of joy at realizing I could feel normal again. Finding myself after all of the years of sadness and depression that I’d been smothered in was the greatest gift I could have been offered. Life became enjoyable again.
Shame and embarrassment around the topic of depression and anxiety needs to come to an end. My friends and close family know my story. I’m not afraid to share with other mothers and friends I encounter along the way who have reached out for help of their own. Medicine didn’t “fix” my world. It just made me able to process what was in front of me. And allowed me to face the idea that I am capable of exercise, cleaning my house, handling a leaky faucet, and playing with my child.
Of course antidepressants aren’t the answer for everyone. And maybe even for me, they won’t always be necessary. But in this moment of life, they are. I love the medicine for working for me. My doctor has my undying gratitude for hearing me. And I can finally love myself for being my own advocate and reclaiming the ability to live my life—thanks to one tiny pill each day.