This is what it is like to be a parent while struggling with anxiety and depression.
I’ve been an attentive mom lately. I mean, I’ve met their needs the past few days. I haven’t been angry or even frustrated, but I haven’t really been there. I feel like my life is just happening before me. I’m a witness to the happiness and chaos and my mind is shackling my emotions and keeping me from participating. I want to giggle at my four year old son’s ridiculous and creative jokes but I find myself forcing a smile and a nod. I want so badly to surprise my kids with an elaborate fort full of pillows and blankets that will rocket us to outer space. But mustering up the motivation to get off the couch leaves me exhausted and the thought of cluttering up the living room makes me anxious. They wore clean but wrinkled pants to school because I cannot seem to find the energy to fold the laundry. Then I spend the day analyzing my missteps, failures and shortcomings. I dwell on them so much that my chest feels tight and I struggle to breathe a satisfying breath. Anxiety manifests physically and suddenly I don’t have the energy for tickle fights and it literally pains me to hold my nearly 2 year old as he drifts off to sleep on my chest.
Their sweet laughter and pure joy from running in circles is muffled by the panic I’m feeling in my chest because all I want to do is breathe. Inhale and exhale my way to serenity. Anxiety and depression force me to be a passive character in my own story. I’m longing to be present and angry at my mind for not allowing me to do so. What I find so crazy is that I see this happening and yet I feel that I can do nothing to fix it.
Anxiety and depression are thieves of time, joy and peace. My husband is incredibly attentive and wants to help. He asks what’s causing it. I don’t know. I don’t know why I feel like crying during a happy commercial. I don’t know why I obsess over the few splatters of spaghetti sauce in the microwave but disregard the mountain of laundry that needs to be done. I don’t want to rely on a pill to make me feel better. Zoloft is incredibly effective and I’ve encouraged friends and family to consider it when they’re feeling the exact way I’m feeling. I will likely get back on this medication, but I’ll resent it. I feel as though it’s holding my motherhood hostage. I undoubtedly will be bombarded with suggestions to help with this – and that’s fine. I would do the same and I realize it’s coming from a good place. I’m very self-aware. I know the problem. I know the numerous solutions but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. I’ve started really working out and pushing myself and it’s helpful, but it’s not the complete remedy for my particular ailment.
I love offering resolutions at the conclusion of my blog posts. But sometimes, I just need to level with you and admit to you that some days are hard. Some days I don’t want advice nor to I want to give it. I just want to talk about it. Put it out there, that THIS happens. Some days I just need to stand in the shower and let the hot water hit my chest as I cry. I’m not really crying because I’m sad. I’m crying because I already started the water and got undressed but just realized there were no towels because I didn’t wash, dry and fold them because I. JUST. DIDN’T. This isn’t me. I’m not these “hysterical” emotions. But they’re happening and I have to make the choice to deal with it. Reluctantly and resentfully deal with it. My family deserves all of me and I deserve all of me.