Most of the time, I’m that mom jamming out to “Some Things Never Change” from Frozen as I drive my toddler through rush hour to daycare. Most of the time, I’m that mom playing “tickle monster” or going to the splash pad on the weekend or telling ghost stories with a flashlight underneath bedsheets. Most of the time I’m an attentive, loving, joyful parent.
Most of the time.
But then – seemingly out of nowhere and with no warning – one of the monsters I read about to my child in his books comes alive and climbs into my bed in the still of the night. He wraps his tentacles around me and pulls me into him and I wake up in a sweat – my heart pounding like a steel drum deep in my chest.
And that’s when I know.
I’ll wake up later than normal with a heaviness in me that feels like my entire body is made out of weights. The idea of getting up to shower or make coffee or even brush my teeth seems absolutely unbearable. Like a marathon. I want to cry. I want to hide under my comforter from everything; be left alone with my monster so I don’t have to explain his existence to anyone else.
I don’t have to tell my boss why I can’t concentrate.
I don’t have to tell my coworker why I can’t spare a laugh or even a smiley “good morning.”
I don’t have to tell my favorite barista why I haven’t been in for the last four days – because I physically couldn’t bring myself to go into the coffee shop.
You see, I suffer from an unspecified form of depression and, while it is rare that it comes on, it can also be debilitating. And to be honest, I can handle it because it doesn’t last too long and we all have to deal with the hand of cards we were dealt in life, right? But what makes my depression exponentially more difficult is what a shitty mom I become.
This is particularly true when you have a rambunctious child that loves your attention.
Because the truth is, when I have been sucked down the rabbit hole of a depressive episode, I am a horrible mom. I’m running to the bathroom every ten minutes to cry in peace. I don’t have the ability to perform simple tasks like making dinner or reading books or even being “present” for my child. And then guilt stacks itself on top of my laundry pile of emotions, just exacerbating the depression and leaving me helpless.
I’m getting professional help for my depression and I suppose it is working, but the reality is that I may never be a fully functioning mom or a fully functioning member of society and that’s a hard pill to swallow – much harder than any pill any therapist has ever tried to push on me.
I don’t know that anything will make me better but I know what would help: knowing other parents go through this. Knowing that not all moms are on top of their game all the time. Knowing that the facade we put up on Social Media is just that – a collage of all of our good moments; all of our happy moments when we are on top of our parenting game. But that’s only one side of our lives we let the world see. And the other side, well, that’s not so pretty. At least, it isn’t for me.
Most of the time, I’m that mom sitting out in a hammock with my son playing “I spy with my little eye.”
Most of the time.