Pay attention mamas! That cranky and irritable mood you are in might not be from #Kids, but it could be depression.
First off, I am not a medical professional. I’m simply sharing my story in hopes that it might help another mom who is feeling this same way but doesn’t know what is causing it. If you think you may be depressed, talk to your doctor as soon as you can. You are not alone. There is help.
Instinctually, I knew something was wrong. So chances are, if you feel like something is wrong, don’t ignore that feeling. For me, I felt hopeless, irritable, and overly self-critical. Which is why I never thought I was depressed! Depression can be down right tricksy!
When Depression Hits You
One way of describing it is like the chaoticness of a rushed morning. You overslept, you spill your coffee, your kids take forever to eat when they normally inhale their breakfast.
It’s a day when nothing goes right. Your shoes always seem to be untied, you are dropping things, running into things, tripping on the sidewalk. Things are chaotic, rushed, and irritating.
The best way I have heard depression described is living in a state of hyper-self awareness. Bonnie McFarlane said this in her book “You’re Better Than Me.”
“It (depression) feels sleepy and slow and unbalanced. You can never get your shirt to stay tucked in and everyone is always doing their best to irritate you. It’s being in a constant state of hyper-self-awareness.”
It’s a type of self-awareness where you question every decision you make. If your kids have a bad attitude, you think to yourself “OMG what did I do that make them this way. It must be something I DID!”
Or your kids are particularly needy one day, so you think to yourself, “I must have done something wrong. I must not spend enough time with them. They must be having too much screen time. It must be something I DID!”
That’s where my mind was in November of 2011. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t really know what it was or what to call it. I wasn’t sad, but I didn’t feel like myself either. My kids were happy and healthy. My husband and I had a strong and loving partnership. What did I have to be depressed about?
But then I heard something on a podcast that changed my life.
Cara Santa Maria was on the Joe Rogan podcast and they were discussing the recent death of Robin Williams. Shortly after his death, we weren’t made aware of Williams battle with a degenerative brain illness called Lewy body dementia. All the news said was it was a suicide.
Many were shocked that this happy, funny man had taken his own life. Cara made the observation that “people confuse depression with sadness.” The lightbulb went on and I knew depression was the problem.
My depression manifests itself in extreme irritability. I rarely feel sad, but I do feel anger, frustration, and edginess. Small annoyances can ruin an entire day. Lashing out causes feelings of guilt and tormenting thoughts: “Why do I feel this way?”
Shortly before I went on medication, I went on a girl’s weekend with three of my best girlfriends. It was supposed to be a fun weekend reuniting with friends, but I was still annoyed and irritable. It’s when I knew something was wrong. I had ZERO responsibilities other than to have a good time, and I just couldn’t do it. My mind was much too chaotic and stuck to have any fun. I was trying to fall asleep one night, thinking “Why am I not having a good time? This is supposed to be fun!” I’m sure it appeared like I was enjoying myself, but in my mind I was all over the place.
Depression doesn’t always look like the stereotypical sadness, despair, or hopelessness. It can look different. People experience depression in many different ways. It can feel unbalanced, irritable, or hyper-self-awareness.
Thinking in Scientific Terms
One thing that helped me tremendously was thinking of depression from a scientific level.
The antidepressant I take is an SSRI, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. And on the Joe Rogan podcast Cara, who has a background in neuroscience, breaks down how SSRI’s work. SSRIs help depression because they increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. The SSRI, it bonds to the serotonin receptor in my brain. It allows me to dump more seratonin into the synapse (the gap between two brain cells), so I always have more available. It keeps the serotonin in that gap instead of sucking it back into the cell so more is available to me. This explanation was life changing in helping me manage my depression. Here is the link for those interested 🙂
This helped me understand that brain chemistry was making me feel out of sorts. For some reason that made me feel better and I became “ok” with having depression. It was a level of reassurance because there is a science behind all the madness.
Depression looks different for everyone. No matter the reasoning or the circumstances behind your depression, there is help out there. You don’t need to suffer in silence. You are not alone. All you have to do is reach out for help.