Depression. As a writer, a lover of all words big and small, it is one of very few I can say I vehemently hate. The ugliest of words, it is. It defines everything that has ever gone wrong in my life, my head, and my soul. It is the catalyst that destroys all that I touch. Even my own flesh and blood. It is the one word I wish my children had never heard of in their lives.
I had not received an official diagnosis for my mental illness by the time I got pregnant for the first time at 21. I had been in counseling for a year, but they never suggested a psych eval – they said what I was experiencing was purely just a hormonal imbalance carrying over from the tail-end of puberty coupled with the unfortunate circumstances of my life thus far. Oh, how wrong that therapist was. I needed a diagnosis. Badly. It probably would have changed my course for the better had I received one early on and tailor suited my treatment plan accordingly. At the least, I would have had a reason to take my therapy a little more seriously. Maybe stick with it for more than a few months at a time.
Now, four kids later, I have a diagnosis in the bag. Clinical Depression with Co-Dependency and PTSD. It doesn’t even matter, though; not nearly as much as I imagined having one would. It is merely a word on paper headed with my name, birthdate, and medical record number.
Having a diagnosis to label my mental illness doesn’t change the fact that my brain chemistry is so messed up that I cannot function within a range of normalcy. The darkness haunts me all the time. So does the fear that the darkness will damage my babies. They see so much more than any child deserves to bear witness to. They have endured more pain due to my mental health unraveling than all their booboos combined. There is no doubt in my mind that I have unknowingly affected them thus far in their lives. It isn’t that I want to or even mean to. In a really fucked up sort of way, damaging them seems par for the course. The guilt of this reality eats me alive.[easy-tweet tweet=”Having a diagnosis to label my mental illness doesn’t change the fact that my brain chemistry is so messed up that I cannot function within a range of normalcy.” user=”@sammichespsychmeds @angrivatedmom”]
I try my damnedest to shelter the kids from the symptoms of my disease, as if I am contagious or something. Really, though, my trying is futile. There is no hiding the truth from anyone who lives with me more than a few weeks. Even when my depression is in remission (if you will, for no lack of a better word to use to describe it), it is constantly draining me of everything it can, trying to build up enough power to generate another raging storm. Putting forth the effort it takes to make it through the day is nearly impossible sometimes, because my brain resists every bit of logical reasoning to do anything more than the bare minimums. It leaves me firmly planted in a life moving as fast as time passes. There is no motivation to accomplish, just a constant dread of doing. I fear they are picking up the misconception that Mommy must be lazy. That working hard isn’t necessary. That it is normal to be that way and never strive for anything more than what gets them by.
Their father goes ‘to’ work six days a week for hours on end, but they don’t actually see him literally and figuratively breaking his back while shedding blood, sweat, and tears to financially support his family — the one with the screwed up housewife running ship. For all the children know, his job is like a perpetual recess, or something like that. Seeing is believing, especially with kids, and what mine see the most of is me struggling with my depression.
The kids are too innocent still to realize there are some things about ourselves that people cannot control. They are beginning to question why I can’t simply change my negative thoughts like someone can without mental illness — like I ask them to do. They cannot see my faulty wiring to register that Mommy is truly sick beneath her otherwise normal, albeit a bit more disheveled than the average, exterior appearance.
I do not want them to absorb all the negativity I unwittingly exude around me, but it’s no use. They do. I hear it in the way they speak about their own feelings… in the way they make excuses for things… in the way they interact with one another. It has forced me to become more forcefully aware of my approach and desperate to find some way to mask my symptoms from their view once and for all.
I am tired of watching my mental health issues affect the children I bore to protect and shelter from the darkness of the world. Had I realized how much I was going to have to protect them from the darkness within my own self, I cannot say with any certainty that my children they would be today. Alas, they are, and there is nothing to be changed but the hold of the disease on my brain.[easy-tweet tweet=”I am tired of watching my mental health issues affect the children I bore to protect and shelter from the darkness of the world.” user=”@sammichespsychmeds @angrivatedmom”]
That is why I hate the word Depression so much. It is ugly and painful. It represents destruction and hinderance. It tears apart everything, little by little, creeping in unannounced through the shadows and seeping through every pore of woven fabric wrapped around one’s soul. It warps the perceptions of everyone around me. Depression is the most venomous word in my vocabulary, and I wish I had never become the defining picture of it. Then, maybe, my children would have half a chance in this world to be better people than the one it has made of me.