A Parent With Depression (The Mental Black Hole)
Teaching my son about depression while battling depression.
Depression. It’s dark. It’s lonely. It’s a trench that keeps getting deeper. It’s the mental black hole.
It’s hard to have your mind put you down constantly. I thought that it was difficult before but… Being a parent with depression is a new level of difficulty. It makes you feel like such a failure.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association,
A major depressive disorder — usually just called “depression” — is different than the “blues”. Someone experiencing depression is grappling with feelings of severe despair over an extended period of time. Almost every aspect of their life can be affected, including their emotions, physical health, relationships and work. For people with depression, it does not feel like there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” — there is just a long, dark tunnel.
Riley is older now and I wanted to have a conversation with him about what it means to have depression — that was a difficult conversation to have. I knew it was the right thing to do. I’m sure that he’s noticed that mom’s “different”. I’m sure he wonders why I am always tired, why I’m always asleep.
So I went to his room one evening and sat with him on his bed. I taught him the differences between mental health and physical health. I wanted him to understand that someone can be unwell mentally but perfectly fine on the outside. I wanted him to truly understand that mental health is just as important as physical health — that mental illness is a serious illness no matter the diagnosis and that’s why certain comments like “that’s depressing…” is inappropriate.
I wanted to teach him what it meant to be depressed — that there are many symptoms and that not all of them have to present. I told him that depression is the reason that I am always asleep — the reason why I haven’t had energy. I wanted him to understand that it’s a different kind of sadness, but one that is caused by chemicals in our brain. I told him that nobody did anything to make me depressed. He just looked at me with such caring and loving eyes and asked if there’s anything he could do.
…I’m really lucky to have such a caring little man.
and then my depression will ask me what I did to deserve such an amazing little man.
My depression tells me that I’m lazy. It tells me that I’m a bad parent because I’m not interested in things that my son wants to show me. It tells me that I’m a bad parent because I cannot help Riley with things he needs help with.
People tell me I look great, that I’m such a great mom for raising such an amazing little boy. But they don’t see me fight with myself. They don’t know the major battles I fight everyday just to get out of bed. They don’t know that I just sit in my shower under the hot stream crying.
and then my depression would tell me that I’m ungrateful for the amazing family that I have…
…that I have no reason to be depressed.
“What kind of mom are you that you have to talk yourself into cooking so that your son has something to eat?”
“What kind of mom are you that you have to talk yourself into getting up in the morning so that you can spend time with Riley before he goes to school?”
“Wow… you’re not interested in what Riley has to show you? He’s so proud of it! You’re being such a b****.”
and it goes on and on…
I don’t want to be a good-for-nothing mama but it’s so tiring to pretend to be okay. It’s such a chore sometimes to even fake a smile. Sometimes I just want to sleep the days away. I’m just so constantly tired. What’s even tougher is that medication is trial and error. Even though I’m on medications, it’s not a miracle cure. What’s worse is that I have to deal with the side effects.
Sometimes you’ll find me staring into pure nothing. Half of those times, I know I’m staring into nothing but can’t find the energy to snap myself out of it. Either that or I don’t see the point in snapping out of it. It’s not like I’m going to be interested in what’s happening outside.
I don’t want to be in this mental black hole anymore…
Originally published at coffeeheartmind.com on February 1, 2017.