"Mom is sick in her head" - dealing with depression and guilt in motherhood

"Mom is sick in her head" - dealing with depression and guilt in motherhood

Contributor Aefke writes about her depression in motherhood, and the guilt that comes with it.

I have bipolar disorder. This means that the peaks and valleys in a human life can feel a bit more intense for me than for 'normal' people. I had my last depressive episode ten years ago. I was admitted, diagnosed and given a lifelong prescription to Lithium (mood stabilizer). I thought that I could keep myself under control.

Until it became too much for me one morning. "I'm not okay," I said to my husband. I had put on my nicest skirt and a nicely ironed blouse. I wore bright pink lipstick and a thick layer of mascara. If I looked good, I didn't feel that way. I couldn't keep up with life. I couldn't tolerate the children. Throwing their cars, the eternal bickering over the Fireman Sam cup, throwing breat around, dirty hands on the curtains. My husband thought it was okay. 'Get plenty of sleep tonight".

Out of mascara
But it did not work out well. I phoned in sick at work and called my psychiatrist. My husband came home from work and found me crying in bed. In my nice skirt and ironed blouse with running mascara. Life had become a big, obscure and terrifying knot. I was afraid of everything.

The first two weeks of my depression I spent mostly in bed. The advantage was that I could sleep in and get used to the extra medication I had received. The downside was that I ended up in a vicious circle of guilt. My husband had to take care of me and the boys and of course my kids mainly went to dad. We explained to them that Mommy was sick in her head and hopefully soon could play with them again. Inside me the ever-increasing and all-dominating guilt gnawed.

Meanwhile, things are getting better. I am partially working again, I play sports and I enjoy my children. It is bizarre to feel that the things you normally do not bother with are suddenly complicated, stressful, and difficult; changing a diaper; paying a visit to the clinic; cooking turned out to be a completely confusing activity. I am now doing it all again, and that's fine, but the best part is that I can enjoy the boys again. Without fear. Without pain. Without that all-encompassing blanket called depression.

Have you experienced depression as a mother?

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