Prepared by: Stephanie Fredericka, LCSW
Let us be honest: moms are super heroes. That doesn’t mean that behind those capes and masks moms don’t face their own struggles. Speaking from my own mommy experience, sometimes it feels as if I don't have even one moment to breathe or be anything other than okay. Despite how we may be feeling, we have to keep moving because our children depend on us. We need to prioritize by putting our little ones’ needs before our own. That is hard on those days when we are under-slept, catching a cold, or feeling burned out. Now, imagine taking care of a little one, or a few little ones, when you are struggling with depression or anxiety. It’s a daily struggle and there are good days and days where we can’t think we will make it. It’s okay. You’re not alone.
The Daily Grind
In her article, When Being Mom Leads to “Mommy Depression,” Jami Ingledue speaks about this high-functioning depression that many moms cope with as they face every-day life: putting one foot in front of the other, wiping noses, making lunches, telling husbands where things are, answering every call and cry for mommy. The stay-at-home moms may especially face depression as she finds herself alone all day, without adult interaction (expect Paw Patrol or Mickey Mouse Club House). These moms work through the same tasks repeatedly in their pajamas, which becomes their daily garb. Jami speaks about the never-ending schedule (rewind, press play) we find ourselves in, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working-mom. There seemingly is never a break, unless you are fortunate enough to have good sleepers (insert laugh track here). Sleep is pertinent to our mental health. Without it, moms coping with depression may feel even more in a state of utter desperation.
Caring For a Child With Special Needs
Having a child with mental health challenges or a disability can also make it very difficult for moms with depression, as it exacerbates everything. There is a constant schedule of appointments, school meetings, and wiping of tears. When does this leave time for you as a mom to breathe and take care of yourself?
Your child’s meltdowns and daily struggles will also trigger your depression and anxiety and put you in an even deeper ‘funk’. Having a child with special needs means you often feel out of control, and parenting is an especially big and difficult challenge.
Parenting Feels Like a Sham
Jami so beautifully describes her own high-functioning depression in her article: “But it is all a sham. We feel dead inside, like a shell of a person. We can sort of fake it for the kids, but no one else. We are completely sucked dry. Still functioning on the outside but paralyzed on the inside. No hope, no light we can see at the end of the tunnel.” She opens up about spending all of her energy on keeping her kids alive, digging deep until her well was dry. Until one day, she had an epiphany when she thought to herself, “I hope my family will still love me for what I used to be, because I have nothing good left.” She said she knew she had to stop and put her own oxygen mask on first, because if we don’t nurture our own self, how can we take care of the little ones that depend on us?
Find Your Help
Moms - I want you to say this out-loud: It is OKAY to get help. There’s no shame and it doesn’t make you less of a mom. If anything, seeking your own therapy and mental health support is your way of putting on your oxygen mask before you can put it on your children.
Create a Support Clan & Take a Break
It’s OKAY to ask for help and it is OKAY to not be okay. Set up a pact with another mom that you will take her children when she is on the brink of insanity, and you will do the same for her. If you need a break, take a break. There is no prize to be won for going, going, going on fumes. That’s mans it’s okay to take a walk, cry, read a book, or go for a pedicure – by yourself, without kids.
Jami ends her article speaking about balance. That word that makes us think that if we can find it, we are good moms but without it, we are just the opposite. This is simply not true. There is no balance (say it with me, that’s OKAY). If you go out with friends or just take a breather at the store, chances are the dishes may pile up in the sink or that load of laundry you’ve been putting back and forth between the washer and dryer will still be there. But what’s important is that your battery will be recharged and I think that’s more important than having a clean house or whatever unrealistic set of standards you have set for yourself.
I want to give all of us moms who are in the trenches together, cheers to you - raise your glass, or the sippy cup you are probably refilling for the 20th time today, and tell yourself you are doing a good job. Tell yourself you are going to get through the day. Schedule something to look forward to in the near future (as in the next week or two). Tell yourself you are the real superhero (this is our mantra). Superhero moms aren’t always the Pinterest projecting making moms. They are the everyday ones, doing the best they can and that’s just fine with us.
Jami Ingledue. When Being Mom Leads to “Mommy Depression” Huffington Pos
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles