Depression Doesn’t Define You As a Parent

She sat on the edge of the bed, surrounded by the darkness. Her hand grasped towards her mouth to stifle the sobs. Beauty arose from her being but broke the soul. A mother filled with regret and hopelessness.

The moonlight gave light to the loneliness that embraced her. She was becoming weaker and weaker as the nights faded into the days. Afraid to share her struggle, the suffering grew deeper. Every time she heard her son’s cries, she cringed. Anxiety rippled through her body. She knew that she needs to be his comfort, but exhaustion told her to ignore it.

The night turned into day, and the sunshine concealed her pain with a smile. She felt warmth and love while cradling her son in her arms, inhaling his scent. She felt hopeful. She knew that no matter what, her love for him would be enough. The days passed by filled with activities. He wasn’t crawling, but that didn’t stop them from exploring. Her favorite moments with him were sitting on the front porch. They sat on a blanket, soaking up the sun, and she talked, and he responded in coos. She captured moments of smiles with pictures. They spent hours together, lost in each other’s presence. How could she grow resentful when she was surrounded by unconditional love?

Yet, every night, she trembled in fear. She refused to sleep. It terrified her. What if she missed him struggling to breathe? What if he spiked a fever? She was drowning in unimaginable possibilities that could tear him away from her forever. Her exhaustion brought on psychosis, and the fear of his death morphed into her own mortality. Days would pass before she would fall asleep. Her mind and body were exhausted from fighting and hiding the paranoia. At night, her eyes drifted throughout the darkness. She ached for the intrusive thoughts in her mind to stop. They became overpowering.

Her destruction was unraveling in front of others, and the mask was fading. Anger took over her body with his every cry. She believed that the end was near. Her husband heard the screams that vibrated throughout the house. It was her. He saw her lying in a fetal position on the raspy carpet in front of the bed. The cries escaped with no fight. Motherhood broke her. She vaguely remembers the days to come. Her body lethargic as if she was underwater fighting against the current to breathe.

Days later, she was sitting on the couch of a psychiatrist. Her body shifted at the weight of her husband as he sat down. She placed her hand within his grasps. The psychiatrist was a small, framed woman. Her desk was a shrine of paperwork for the people she fought to help. She exhaled.

The doctor asked, “How are you?”

She shut her eyes as her chest vibrates against the labored breathing.

“I can’t do this anymore,” broke through her lips. She tasted the salt from the tears that were escaping, much like her desire for motherhood.

She needed the support of her husband but was ashamed to share her thoughts. Her head dropped in defeat while her shoulders rolled forward in discomfort. She didn’t know that being his mom would bring sadness. She didn’t know that being his mom would alter her whole being. She didn’t know that being his mom would destroy her happiness.

She answered the doctor’s questions with anguished sobs. She was too tired to decipher her thoughts. But, her doctor had the code. It was Depression. The doctor sat beside her and placed a hand on her shoulder. It radiated energy. Calmly, the doctor explained everything while rubbing her shoulder. Every movement and word spoken uncovered the truth. The truth that she wasn’t a failure and she wasn’t alone.

There was a medication that she could take to help lessen the fears associated with death and motherhood. It was not going to eradicate all of the symptoms that plagued her mind. However, life would become manageable. She was able to see the beauty in life again. And she recognized that the difficult days did not take away her ability to be a good parent. Her mental illness was a result of becoming a mother, but it wouldn’t define her as a parent. You see, she thought she was a failure because she wasn’t happy all the time.

But, no one is. We’re allowed to experience every emotion and still be a good person and parent. It’s important to understand that depression doesn’t strip away a person’s ability to love and nurture. One moment of darkness does not erase all the beautiful moments. We all go through hardships in life, and being a parent doesn’t make you immune to the low points.

Her life was restored with treatment. She slept at night. She woke to his cries to provide comfort without wanting to run away. She went grocery shopping, took him to the park, and laughed. Her depression conceled her love for him. But, it was there all along. She began to acknowledge moments of sadness and understand that she was worthy of being his mother.

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