JD Bailey is writer and the creator of Honest Mom, where she writes about raising her young daughters, being a working mom, and managing her depression. She blogs to connect with other moms and create a space for women to both vent and laugh. JD is an advocate for moms who deal with depression and has been interviewed by Katie Couric, featured in Parenting Magazine, and quoted in a Vogue magazine article about the topic. When she’s not writing or mom-ing, JD can be found getting dirty in her gardens or reading a good book.
“Am I just really stressed? Or am I dealing with depression?”
Do you ever wonder this? Perhaps you’ve been grumpy, exhausted, and irritable for a really long time. You’re not feeling like yourself. Maybe getting through the days is hard. And you’re thinking, Is this normal mom stress that I just need to deal with better? Or something more?
Many women have asked me how they can tell the difference. It’s not an easy answer and I’m not a doctor. But I can tell you how what I know from my experience.
When I’m depressed, I can’t handle everyday life well. I have many days when I am really sad. I wake up down and dragging. I am extremely irritable and everything my kids and husband do sets me off. No matter how hard I try, I can’t just “snap out of it.”
Other days I wake up and I just don’t want to get out of bed because I don’t want to deal with the day. I have to, and I do eventually, but I plod through my days, joyless. And again, I am irritable. Really irritable.
There is a constant feeling of fighting against everything. Getting through every day is an effort and exhausting. Every feeling, every urge to scream and throw something out of frustration, every thought that I just want this day to be over because it’s so damn HARD is overwhelming.
I yell at my kids a lot. I sleep terribly. I have no energy, feel anxious about everything, have a hard time staying focused, and of course – there’s that rage that can happen.
This constant feeling of fighting against myself and unwanted feelings doesn’t go away. Sure, some days are better than others. But that unwanted feeling of fighting and resisting is always there. Every day. Every week. Every month.
That’s what depression looks like for me. It makes everyday life very hard and everyday challenges – like difficult children or a too-busy schedule – overwhelming.
When I’m depressed, life is not enjoyable. It’s hard. And I feel like I’m just going through the motions so I can just get through the day.
But when I am on the right antidepressants, everything changes.
I am ME again. Just me. Not drugged up or numb or out of it. Just me.
The veil of depression lifts and I can enjoy life again. Sure, my kids can still be annoying. Yes, my schedule is too busy and stressful. Yes, there are some side effects (but generally minor for me).
But I can handle all of that stuff. Life doesn’t overwhelm me. Instead of getting to the point where I scream at my kids to shut up, I can take a deep breath, relax, get down on their level, and work out the problem.
Instead of getting to the point of rage, I can calm myself down with my clothes dryer.
I can get out of bed in the morning and write instead of lying in bed, dreading the chaos of the day.
I can enjoy life, see the joy in my children, and laugh my big, loud laugh.
I am a better mother. Better wife. Better ME when I am managing my depression with antidepressants.
And I’m not going to be embarrassed or disappointed in myself for needing medication to feel like me. As many people have said to me – would I be disappointed in myself if I had to take meds to manage another chronic health condition? No, of course not.
I’m telling you all this because if you’re nodding your head as you read, thinking, yes, this is me, too, call your doctor. Take that step. You deserve to enjoy life. Maybe meds, therapy, alternative medicine, or some combination of all three can help you.
But you won’t know until you try.