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To the Woman in the Mirror With the Depression-Filled Mind

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To the woman in the mirror,

Yes, I do say “woman,” because despite how much of a monster you feel you may be, you, you are, if nothing more, a female homo sapien. I’ve been watching you a lot lately. I can plainly see the toll your depression has taken on you. You may think you do a good job at hiding it, and to most on the outside world I’m sure you’ve played your role well enough to earn an Emmy. But I know you too well.

I see the way your eyes have turned puffy from the random crying spells you try so desperately to hide from your children. Don’t feel guilty if they see you, you will teach them that emotions do not equate weakness. Besides, they will only want to comfort you even though you can’t explain what’s wrong.

The “up-all-night-again” fatigue is written all over your face. I applaud you for taking the extra 10 minutes tonight to read a bedtime story, even though to your depression-filled mind it felt like pulling teeth. Pushing through is far from easy and I admire you deeply for having the courage to try. One day I hope you learn to feel that pride yourself.

Please listen to me when I tell you taking that pill doesn’t make you any less of a person, woman or mother. It never bothered you to grow up watching your own mother take insulin daily; the only difference is the stupid stigma. Trust me when I say I understand that there are times when that stigma is just as debilitating as the disease itself. It’s OK to feel that way. Just think, if nothing more, you are unnoticeably teaching your children compassion and tolerance for those who need some extra help.

Know it’s OK to feel these feelings. You have every right to grieve the loss of the medication free-life you thought you’d live. Yes, it’s been over 10 years, but that’s OK; acceptance is hard. Remember, it got worse the first year of each of your children’s lives, but it did eventually start to get better. Dealing with depression is hard enough, but adding postpartum depression on top of it can easily seem unbearable. I get it. But don’t let the shame stop you from saying when you need help; everyone needs help sometimes.

Be thankful you have the support that you do. Give your husband a hug. He has guided through the darkness of this disease more times than either of us can count, and not once has he ever said anything negative about it. But here is the most important piece I can give you: you are not alone. Though I know with each passing day depression has its grip on you it gets more and more difficult to believe this, try your best to remember it. There are many more people out there who feel the exact way that you do, and with a little bit of searching and open conversation, you can find them.

So as I stand here facing you, telling you everything I know deep down you already know. Take a deep breath. Now exhale. Do it a few more times. It will all be OK. Let’s just take this one day at a time.

Originally published: January 23, 2016
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