A Letter to My Son About My Depression


Five years. That’s how long it took your dad and I to get pregnant with you. I prayed so hard for you, but my mental state took a beating with each negative test. It was getting harder and harder to get over the disappointment, so we were going to give our hearts some time before we tried again. And wouldn’t you know it, that very last pregnancy test I saw on the bathroom counter I decided shouldn’t go to waste had a pink (a very faint pink) line. I remember when I walked back out to the kitchen with it in my hand, your dad’s expression matched mine: Are we imaging this? When our fertility doctor himself called to give me the good news that the blood test confirmed I was indeed pregnant, the joy I felt cannot be put into words.

Then the time came and we called your Grandma Lore and Grandpa Bob, my grandma and your grandma, to let them know. They came barging into the delivery room, convinced it was taking too long and you should’ve been out by now. But then you were here! Full head of hair with a cowlick in the exact same spot as your dad. One of my favorite pictures is of me holding you right after you were born. Your eyes were wide open looking right into mine. Oh, I fell in love with those eyes.

Those eyes danced and sparkled with excitement when you were convinced you were Captain Jack Sparrow and we pretended the bed was the a pirate ship we were sailing on smooth seas. You would “turn into really big fish” in the water I’d cast my fishing line (my robe belt) over the side and try to pull you aboard. I’d almost get you into the boat, but somehow you’d escape back into the water. “That fish is too slippery” I’d say, and you’d try to stifle your laugh. But when I finally “caught” you, you would explode into a fit of laughter that made my heart so full it hurt. This was how I envisioned you would grow up — continuing to build that bond and making sure I showed you affection so that you always felt loved. Because I know how it feels to not have any of that growing up.

Oh, how I wish this story was full of moments like that with you and me. But my depression became bigger than me, and it took me away from you for days, sometimes weeks. I wish you weren’t old enough to remember those years, old enough to know something was wrong and that I was sad all the time. I wish I would’ve gotten help sooner. I wish I would’ve pushed you to talk to a counselor as soon as I recognized there was more going on than ADHD. I’m sorry because of my anxiety and depression you worried you’d trigger an episode if you needed to talk to me. So you’ve stopped talking to me at all. I know it’s been hard and the last few years have been overwhelming with the divorce, your dad re-marrying and becoming someone you don’t know. I know you are hiding because it’s easier. But I see you! I see that “really big fish” in there, he’s just hiding behind the teenage scowl, sometimes sad eyes and the “I don’t cares.” I’ll catch him, pull him back and I will hear him laugh again.

Written by a mother to her son with the hope that someday he’ll actually read it, and who prays that when he does, he remembers that pirate ship, the smooth water and that his heart is full. Because that would mean the story has a happy ending.

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