'Put On A Happy Face': How I Manage Depression As A Wife And Mom

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depressed woman in bed
Depression makes me want to stay in bed and cry—but being a wife and mother helps me to get up.

Whether or not researchers have Blue Monday (the third Monday in January) accurately pinned as the most depressing day of the year, the winter months—especially January—can be a particularly challenging time for those who struggle with depression. The cold weather, the hullabaloo of the holidays and reduced daylight hours are enough to make anyone feel a little bit sad.

But depression is so much more than just feeling sad. Depression is sadness and it’s hopelessness, fear, a paralyzing sense that this is how you’re going to feel forever, that this misery is never going to go away, things won’t get better. It makes just getting up to leave the couch or the bed seem impossible. It makes functioning in daily life the hardest thing in the world.

Then there’s the guilt: the guilt that comes from feeling like you’re failing everyone around you. Like you should be able to snap out of this and come back to life. Feeling like you’re letting everybody down.

I know because I’ve been there. I have battled depression for over 20 years now, starting when I was 10 years old. I’ve been medicated, I’ve done counseling, I’ve worked hard to try to get a grip on a powerful disease. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling miserable. I’ve also learned how to function day to day, at least most of the time. What was formerly an insurmountable illness has become a livable burden. Depression: A Family Affair

I sometimes forget just how bad it used to be and how bad it can still get. A false sense of security takes over and I think that I’m set, that the horrible feelings won’t come back. I let my guard down and forget to be vigilant. Then when I get blindsided by a perfect storm of triggers that send me into a spiral.

Last Christmas was horrible for me. My husband and I had been trying, unsuccessfully, for over a year to get pregnant. I got my period just before Christmas Day and it crushed me. Combined with the usual holiday sadness, it was just too much. I broke down in a way I hadn’t in years. I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t cook dinner, and I couldn’t stop crying. I wanted to escape from everything. I asked my husband to lock up our revolvers and keep the key with him. For the first time in years, the darkness and scary thoughts were more than just fleeting, they were sticking around. And they terrified me. 

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