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Mothering while depressed.
On wrestling with mom guilt while parenting through episodes.
Sunday morning thoughts of a mentally ill momma.
The mom guilt I feel while parenting when I’m in a depressive episode is worse than the normal guilt that usually accompanies my depressed moods.
I don’t want to not be alive right now, but I’d love to not have to exist in deep sadness for a moment.
I’m struggling to sleep, I feel helpless, and can’t escape the constant melancholic thoughts, but my two-year-old doesn’t know that. All she knows is that she’s up, hungry, ready to play and mommy is in her room and still sleeping.
“Wakey wakey Mommy, I want fruit!” She says while darting into my room and jumping on my bed. Now I’m lamenting over the fact that I have to get up and feed her when the only thing I want to do is stay under these covers.
I get up, give her breakfast, and return to my bed.
I hear “Mommy I finish it!” and know that’s my queue to drag myself out of my bed again. I release her from her chair, help her wash her hands, and walk her back to her room where I immediately turn on the television, ask her what she wants to watch, and then escape to my bed once more.
There, the guilt eats at me and scolds me for being a terrible mother and not playing with her, giving her morning cuddles and love, or at least laying in her room while she plays so she sees that I’m there. But then I know she’ll want me as an active playmate and I’ll inevitably become agitated that she’s a toddler doing toddler things and I’d feel even worse than I do now if this causes me to lash out or lose my temper with her.
She has a birthday party for a classmate later today and I start to cry dreading having to put on a happy face and pretend I’m not empty inside. I could make something up and just tell her friend’s mom that we’re not feeling well. But, I hate to be THAT person who cancels last minute, especially for events needing a headcount.
That leads me to become angry with myself. “No more masking, you said! Advocate for yourself, you preach!” But the people pleaser in me who I thought was dead is actually still holding on, barely clinging to life, taunts me; reminding me of the disappointment I feel when someone says they’re showing up to something I’ve prepared for and they don’t follow through and I know that I have to pull myself together and go. Besides, how can I honestly say “Hey, I accepted your invite when I was having a much better human experience but today I’m struggling to get out of bed to care for my child and surely can’t subject myself to being in a loud environment with a bunch of nearly-3-year-olds while painfully making small talk with friendly moms who appear to REALLY love this shit.”
Be right back, Ava’s asking for juice.
Mothering While Mentally Ill
Originally written in 2021, a few months postpartum.
“What’s motherhood like so far?”
It’s getting irrationally frustrated because she won’t hold still while I’m trying to cut her nails.
It’s having to ask her dad to remove her from my arms because I can’t stop sobbing.
It’s escaping to the closet to lose my shit so I don’t wake her up from a nap.
It’s taking a few extra minutes, or hours, to run errands before having to get back in mommy mode because I dread having to care for someone else while barely able to care for myself.
It’s feeling guilty because I haven’t seen her all morning because I can’t get out of bed and now it’s well into the afternoon and I should probably release her dad from duty.
It’s dissociating during times when I need to care for her so that it doesn’t completely overwhelm and exhaust me.
It’s constantly obsessing over the fear of ruining her.
It’s reminding myself that it’s okay to do things differently than what the blogs and other moms say.
It’s trusting my instincts and abilities and knowing that I’m doing the best I can, even though I want to do more.
I know these things aren’t exclusive to moms who struggle mentally, but oftentimes these moments are scarier, more intense, and more frequent than those who don’t.
Here’s to all the mothers who are doing the damn thing while fighting mental battles each day.