Motherhood and Mental Illness. ?>

Motherhood and Mental Illness.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression over ten years ago, and have been medicated ever since. Most of the time, the medication works, and the Black Dog remains dormant. Every so often, out of the blue, he will come sniffing around again, and once more I fall in a hole, and have to fight my way back out again.

Prior to meeting my now husband, and having our daughter, the low periods were not as noticeable. Not because I didn’t have them, but because my life was in such chaos, and emotional turmoil, that every day was a roller coaster.

It has only been since settling down, and having stability in my life that the difference in my moods has been more pronounced. I actually feel it now, as opposed to before, when I was just in constant pain, and used alcohol and self harm to numb myself from everything.

Now I am aware. Not only aware of how I am feeling, but aware of how it affects the people I love.

My husband, who can’t can’t understand what I’m feeling, but supports me through it anyway, doing everything he can to help.

My daughter, though too young to be aware of what’s happening, must sense the distance. I find her hardest to deal with. When all I want to do is curl up in bed, and hide from the world until it passes, she is always there. Demanding, so needy, suffocating me. I just want her to go away.  And I hate myself even more for having these thoughts, because she is not even two. She is behaving exactly as she should, and I am her mother. I am her world, it’s not her fault I can’t cope.

What about when she is older, and is more aware? When she notices the change in my mood, when I become flat, so tired and teary? Daddy will explain that Mummy is a bit sick at the moment, and needs to rest. She will learn the signs, and learn when to stay away. I don’t want to be that person.

I want to be her mother, always, who is strong and dependable, who is her rock. I don’t want mental illness in our home. I don’t want to be weak and fragile, with people tip-toeing around me, waiting for it to ‘pass’. I don’t want it at all.

I have come such a long way from the person I used to be. From all the dysfunction and drama. I was saved by my husband and my daughter, and am a better person, because of them. That Black Dog has no place in my life anymore, and I must out run him. For them.

 

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57 thoughts on “Motherhood and Mental Illness.

  1. Excuse the bad language but the Black Dog is a rat bastard! I’ve had my time with clinical depression, I am pleased to say I have been well for several years now. Don’t be afraid to show your daughter what ‘weakness’ looks like. It is a part of life. She will experience her own hard times and it is important you model for her good self care. Also allow her to support you in her own way. It will teach her empathy and compassion. I wish you good health :-)
    Bree @ Twinkle in the Eye recently posted…Flash Blog Friday Linky PartyMy Profile

      1. In my experience you have to be very proactive in managing depression. As hard as it is it is necessary, for me that included counselling, medication, time-out (in the form of resigning from my job), exercise and reading and learning more about the illness. That and a lot of time brought healing. The thing with depression is if you do nothing it always gets worse – like I said ‘rat bastard!’
        Bree @ Twinkle in the Eye recently posted…Flash Blog Friday Linky PartyMy Profile

  2. Another who has had her dance with the black dog as well. It’s a path that people don’t wish to walk. But it exists. We need to talk more about it.
    Our children need to know and learn that this is an illness… not something to fear. Hopefully, they will then know the symptoms and seek help for themselves or others, before it’s too late.
    Many of us know this journey.
    Strength and clarity to you J. xxXOoo
    carmen recently posted…You know…My Profile

    1. I completely understand what your saying, and I agree, it needs to be talked about. I will always be open with her about it, I think it’s more the dark moments I’m worried about. I grew up with mental illness in my family, and do not have great memories from my childhood. I just don’t want the same for my daughter. xx
      Hesitant Housewife recently posted…Motherhood and Mental Illness.My Profile

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  3. Another sufferer here. It was only when I had my first child that I realised that I needed serious help. I voluntarily checked myself into a psychiatric hospital with a Mother and Baby unit where they taught me how to deal with the depression, how to look after myself and my baby and not feel guilty.

    It is hard. Acknowledging how you feel is important. Asking for help, when you can’t manage it on your own, can really help too.

    I was diagnosed 13 years ago. I kept hoping for a magic cure. So far, I haven’t found one…
    Dorothy @ Singular Insanity recently posted…Things I know – I nearly forgot!My Profile

  4. I also have been diagnosed with major depression & am being medicated. We have walked such similar paths. I used alcohol in my 20s to catch a break from inner turmoil that I could never seem to turn off. When my 1st son was 5 months old, I realised what it was & made improvements and I have never looked back. That black dog lingers, still, ever watchful, waiting for a vulnerability. Being aware of what your symptoms are & asking for help before it becomes overwhelming are key. Learn that it’s okay to put yourself first because if you don’t you are the first domino to fall but not the last.
    Make your peace with the Black Dog. He’s a part of you. Just make sure he knows that you run the show though.

  5. Beautiful website! I have just found you through a link posted by Dorothy at Singular Insanity. I’m so glad I found you. I am another sufferer. Also abused alcohol (as well as drugs) as a means to avoid it.

    I was terribly unwell when my son was conceived and still unwell when he was born. I always try to hide my tears from him and smile as much as I can. Fake it til you make it is my motto around my baby, but so often that is easier said than done.

    As he gets older though I will tell him about depression and anxiety and try to teach him all the knowledge I have gained through five years of therapy. I will be there to support him if he should also suffer this terrible condition that so many others in my family have been tormented by.

    V.
    Vanessa @ Babbling Bandit recently posted…Ode to LondonMy Profile

    1. Thanks Vanessa, I’m glad you found me too :)
      We have mental illness right through our family too, so it will be something we will need to discuss and look out for as my daughter gets older also. That’s great that you have been able to learn from your therapy. I have had counseling in the past, but perhaps it’s something I should look into again, and learn how to juggle mental illness and motherhood. xx
      Hesitant Housewife recently posted…Motherhood and Mental Illness.My Profile

  6. Thank you for sharing and to everyone else who commented. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one struggling with mental illness and motherhood. We absolutely must soldier on, no matter how hard each day is, for ourselves and our families, who need us more than we might care to consider in our dark times. Lots of love to you all xx

      1. 286/o/2012L0s nódulos no duelen; lo que podría tener es fonalgia, que es dolor de la musculatura laringea por esfuerzo prolongado. Además de ir a la logopeda DEBE cuidarse la voz y no forzarla por sistema, aunque sea en el trabajo.

      2. Takk for en bra artikkel, kjenner at jeg trengte den påminnelsen. Det er utrolig fort gjort å henge seg opp i kaloriene, og dermed bli stresset. Man vil jo så gjerne se resultater . Men de kommer, hvis man tar det med ro, er jo klar over det, bare greit med en påminnelse

  7. my heart is racing and i am in tears reading your blog.I have battled of and on since i was 16~ i am now 52 and have been on meds for 4 years.I also have mental illness in my family~a sister with Schizophrenia and others with depression.My child hood was one of confusion and fear.I was so resistant to help feeling that my sisters illness was more important than mine so I tried to cover it up and push it away until i almost destroyed my marriage.Medication was the best thing i did,better late than never.Was well for 3 year,got my giggle back.But since Jan. this year have started to struggle again.I fine people are compassionate and understanding but don’t really get the difficulties.I have few people I feel comfortable talking to and as my kids are grown now,i have fewer distractions. Thank you for sharing.I also have a blog which i have recently started and really wanted to write about seasonal depression but I find i hard to start off.You may have given me the inspiration i needed.Thank you again,and I hope things improve for you.Suexx

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story Sue. Have you had a chat to your Dr about how you’ve been feeling over the last few months? I don’t know if it’s an option for the particular medication you are taking, but I have had the dosage of my medication altered over the years, both higher and lower, depending on how I have been feeling. May be worth a discussion?
      Do you have a link to your blog? I would love to read it, if you feel comfortable? xx
      Hesitant Housewife recently posted…Motherhood and Mental Illness.My Profile

  8. It is soooo hard. I am not (to my sorrow) a mother, but from what I have seen all mothers feel suffocated from time to time. And yes, in an ideal world you would be able to shield both your daughter and your husband. However it isn’t an ideal world and I suspect that both of them (I am including your daughter even though she is perhaps a little young now) want you to get better and will love you regardless. It seems to me that you are the one putting conditions on your self love – and I know that place because I am guilty myself. Sadly, depression is part of you now. It is not the whole you though at times it will feel that way.
    I am sending cyber healing hugs your way.
    Elephant’s Child recently posted…Finally we are moving forward.My Profile

    1. Thank you for the hugs. I have missed you around here of late. You are right, I am a lot harder on myself than others are. I just want to be the best person I can be, for my loved ones. I guess I need to figure out how to be the best person I can, even with depression. xx
      Hesitant Housewife recently posted…Motherhood and Mental Illness.My Profile

  9. I can relate to this post hun in more ways than I want to. i have been there and I have seen the sadness in my kids eyes when they have watched me cry. That black dog sucks big time and I will kick his hairy ass from here to kingdom come if he dares come near me or my family again. Sending you the biggest hugs ever – You can and you will outrun him! xx
    Sonia Life Love Hiccups recently posted…The Best Ever Chilli Tomato Basil Dipping SauceMy Profile

  10. I read your post last night when catching up on my Google reader blogs via my iphone and wanted to comment then as it rang so true with me. Your post made me cry! I so relate to how you are feeling. I recently took a month off work through depression and it had come to a head where I just couldn’t cope. While my illness may have been worse in the past (pre-kids) I find the effect on me is more profound, like you. I can’t just sink into my bed or lie in until 12 on weekends. I have to carry on and (try to) be a good mother to my 2 and 4 year old kids. I hope you don’t mind but I have shared your post via my facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/organisingthechaos. Thank you so much for being so open in your post. This stuff needs to be talked about. xxx
    Abigail Shepherd recently posted…How to get organised when you’re depressedMy Profile

  11. hello sweetheart – I was pretty much going to write something similar to Bree’s comments, except of me I haven’t been diagnosed with depression.
    I do know what it is like though to sometimes feel the way you described. Today for example had an argument with the man and its makes me feel so horrible all I want to do is lay in bed, but I know I can’t my little precious needs me around although I did sneak out to do some shopping by myself and took my merry time about reading labels etc lol.
    I find that the best thing for when I am feeling down is to put some music on. I put on my loud rock pop and have a good loud sing. So refreshing to get it out loud!
    Hope you are feeling better today. xxx
    Neen recently posted…I don’t know how to draw, how could I possibly teach art to my child?My Profile

    1. Thanks Neen, am feeling much better now, it’s like a dark cloud hangs over me, but then it always passes eventually. It’s so hard when you have a little one, to take that time out, and mope, and hide from the world for a bit. I guess we just have to make the most of the moments we do get to ourselves, even if it is just at the grocery store! xx
      Hesitant Housewife recently posted…Wordless Wednesday ~ My Daughters Daddy.My Profile

  12. Hi, I just found your blog through Vanessa Beatties Facebook page. Your words are like a mirror in so many ways. I have had depression, anxiety and panic since my teens but I never sought help and was not in a position in my family to ask for help. So in my late 30’s I finally fell apart sufficiently to know that I had to do something. My girls and my husband were all bearing the brunt of my illness and I wasn’t even acknowledging I was ill! Last year April I went into therapy, I wish I could say that this was one of the wisest decisions I have ever made, but the truth is my motivation was not for me, it was because I was worried about my daughters anxious tendencies. My therapist saw straight through this and there started my journey. My youngest is an anxious soul and I beat myself up from time to time about it being my fault etc but in reality it is simply who she is and having a mum who has her own mental health challenges that I am now coping with well, may help her in the future. Mental health illness runs deeply in my family as well as addiction so in reality, there’s a good chance my girls will be affected in some way. If I have the skills to cope with my own then maybe I can help them if it ever happens in their lives. There is no shame in your illness, in my illness or anyone else’s and just knowing you want a better life for yourself and your child sets you on a path to healing and shows your strength.
    I wish you peace and stillness in your journey
    With love
    Tracy

  13. I think those with a mental illness are some of the strongest people in our society, they are the ones who have to battle through each and every day. After the birth of our 3rd and unexpected wee bundle of joy I struggled through most days, hours and minutes, wishing my children would just leave me alone, locking myself outside just to get some peace and quiet and crying about how miserable my life was. Luckily for me this stage has passed but it also made me realise how amazing people such as yourself are. I’m not one to say pick-me-up quotes because I don’t think they help, but I admire your strength, courage and honesty. I look forward to following you in 2013! Emily :)
    Emily recently posted…A newbie’s prospective on the world of blogging and my three-month review!My Profile

  14. I’ve fought depression too – unfortunately it’s never far away and I always have to be on my guard. I’ve been med free for a few years now but I always know in the back of my mind that I may have to go there again. I’m not the mother I want to be sometimes too – I also feel suffocated and resentful of my children at times, which is such a horrible feeling. Take care of yourself and never feel guilty for doing what you need to do to get through it.
    Kirsty @ My Home Truths recently posted…The Positives of AutismMy Profile

  15. Good on you for naming the Black Dog, Jane. Thank you for sharing your story – more open and honest discussion around this topic is essential if we’re ever going to be able to remove the stigma surrounding depression and encourage more people to seek help.
    Amanda @ Cooker and a Looker recently posted…that’s a wrapMy Profile

      1. Queen How is that Obama's fault?What would you or the Republicans done differently vis-a-vis the ecanomy??Morines are the best WHAT?You've been watching too many movies sweetie.

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  16. I’ve had the black dog in my life too. It’s not easy, but it’s always lurking in the background. It’s comforting to hear you admit how you feel about your daughter when ‘it’ is around as I felt the same about my son too and constantly suffer from terrible ‘mummy guilt’. I agree that it should be far more recognisable than it is. Thanks for sharing x

  17. A very brave and honest post. I know what you mean about how it’s more noticeable now that life is stable.
    The important thing is that you’re aware of the Black Dog and you know yourself well enough when it’s going to strike.
    Keep hoping for the best. You have the support of your family, no matter what xxx
    Grace recently posted…FYBF – Post Christmas Chillaxin’My Profile

  18. I’ve also had a lot of trouble with depression and have many mental illnesses and addictions in the family. It does sound as if you are getting better all the time at knowing yourself and knowing when down times are coming. I can see them coming now and am better at deflecting. Am a firm believer in RUTHLESS self care!! Not to the detriment of the family, but I do look after myself these days as I’m so pivotal to the family. I used to feel guilty about being self indulgent but not any more! Hope 2013 is a great year of living well and growng for you.
    Seana Smith recently posted…The Seven Yummiest Recipe Posts Of 2012My Profile

  19. Hello there. like your latter commenters I have popped in from FYBF with Grace. I read your post & every commenter – give or take – has admitted to having depression is their family or in themselves. I do as well. You are not alone. Come back and read this post and the supporters’ comments often. Im the blogging world in 2012 I co-ordinated RUOK?Day for bloggers with Gemma from My Big Nutshell. Digital parents’ oversight made this a safe place for people to post and to feel heard. In 2013 this will occur again so think about sharing & joining in.
    Seana Smith is one determined woman & I’m happy to say she’s a friend made via blogging. Since she embarked on “look after me” as her project her life has changed immeasurably. She has many hard days with 4 kids & a hub away OS for work but she is ruthless with her TIME for her.
    In my case, I’m retired and been a school principal & now I care for my unwell spouse & grand kids. If I do not plan to do something for me everyday I spiral into depression . I’m on meds but I think it’s how I manage my day that is the secret. In fact I’ve begun a meme on my blog called “nourishingmysoul2daybyDW” where I hope I will be joined by others sharing. Photos and words which help nourish us. I’d love you to join me!
    Denyse Whelan recently posted…Nature Is Amazing.My Profile

  20. I am hearing your brave words and feeling the truth of them myself. I understand depression and all those feelings about not wanting to be THAT kind of mother. Your daughter will understand and forgive. You have so much going for you – you’re aware and you’re courageously trying to do better. I wish you love and strength with outrunning your black dog. xx (PS Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog – I’m sorry its taken me days to get to yours.. so much going on, I do apologise). x

  21. Yeah I hear you sister.
    Have been thinking a lot about medication but am concerned about not ‘feeling’ if you know what I mean. Depression is a bitch and makes me question every aspect of my life, relationships, body image, what I eat…everything! And then to throw in the epic tiredness and sheer exhaustion of motherhood…far out! I’m a mess, but a functioning mess so no-one really notices or just thinks I’m a bit odd.
    The hardest part for me has been when I have reached out for help (v hard thing for me to do) to friends and family and have had no response or very little help.
    The last thing I want is for either of my daughters to have to deal with this but if they do, I will be there every step of the way to help out in a proactive way.

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