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Depression Changed the Mother I Thought I Would Be

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Every parent has probably felt like they were destroying their kids at some point or another. The thought that you will one day have to pay for your child’s therapy has probably crossed your mind. Maybe you lost your temper after your precious angel threw their dinner on the floor. Perhaps you had a headache and couldn’t bring yourself to go to your son’s soccer game. Either way, parental guilt has consumed you at least once.

But what if it’s more than once? What if it’s more than a few times? What if you felt like you’re a failure basically every day since you became a parent? Well, that’s what it feels like for me as someone who struggles with their mental health.

I became a mom in March of 2012. I fell in love with my daughter the second I saw her, despite looking at single motherhood in the face. She was such a good baby. She was loving and precious and everything I imagined she would be. I loved spending time with her and watching her learn and grow. Every coo and finger squeeze melted my heart. She was my whole world. Then in June of 2013, I had my first panic attack, and was later diagnosed with depression, anxiety and panic disorder. Motherhood changed a lot for me after that. She was no longer the first thing on my mind. My attacks were. She was no longer the thing that consumed my time. My illnesses were. And it was more exhausting than any midnight feeding ever could be.

I didn’t get enough “normal” time with her. I didn’t get enough play dates or tummy times or snuggling. She came, and I felt like overnight, so did my illness. To some people, this would seem like a blessing. “Well, since you’ve had your illness for almost as long as you’ve had kids, you should be well adjusted, right?” Wrong. I don’t think this illness is something a person can ever get used to, even without kids. And now I’ve got two.

The birth of my second daughter changed me in a completely different way than my first. For one thing, she was the opposite of my first born. Colic. Cranky. Difficult during every single stage of her growth. But more than that, she tested my patience on a whole new level. To be honest, my health has felt like it’s been on the decline since my pregnancy with her.

Which brings me full circle. Mom guilt. I feel guilty for even having a passing thought that I resent my kids over the natural stress of being a mother. That I might resent my kids for consuming my time and brain power and making it impossible to find peace and quiet throughout the day, especially on a “bad day.” I can’t run away and take a day off for my sanity. I love them with everything inside of me, but I feel like I’m doing it wrong.

Before kids, I thought I would be like the cool moms I grew up watching on TV. Think Jill Taylor from “Home Improvement,” working in a field she loved and baking cookies for her boys. Man, she had it all together. She was smart and patient and funny and loving. She was the mom I always saw myself being.

But I don’t make pancakes in the morning, and I don’t read bedtime stories every night. I don’t host playdates or bake sales or coach my oldest daughter’s soccer team. I’m not the coolest mom in the PTA. I don’t want to host sleepovers. I’m truthfully hanging on to my sanity by a thread just to get my kid to school on time. It all makes me wonder what kind of mom I would be if I wasn’t battling my own mind on a daily basis. I guess what I’m saying is, if this sounds like you, just know you are not alone. You’re doing just fine, and it’s all going to be OK.

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Getty image via Yobro10

Originally published: September 1, 2018
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