Before I left my husband, I had dreams about having an apartment that I could care for on my own. I dreamt that I would be making meals in the kitchen while my children played together in the living room. I dreamt that I would take them to the park or the zoo. I dreamt that once I left, the feelings of anxiety and depression would just magically lift and float away.
Those dreams have not become reality. Although I am free of him and I no longer feel the burden of keeping him happy, I still struggle with my depression and anxiety. Every day is a struggle. A struggle to keep my cool when my 3-year-old tests me, a struggle to maintain some semblance of cleanliness and organization, a struggle to do my fair share of housework, a struggle to get out of the house periodically, a struggle to stay present with my children and not escape through the screen of my computer or phone.
Despite my medication and being in a better place, I still feel the darkness. Some days I wish I could just sleep all day because living is just so exhausting. Some days I have to practice deep breathing on a constant basis because my anxiety is so high. Sometimes I go days without showering or without brushing my teeth. The one thing I can give myself credit for is that I take care of my children. I may not be labelled mother of the year, I may not do arts and crafts activities, or take them outside every day, but they are fed, they know I love them, and I hope that they will develop enough compassion to see that I’m doing the best that I can.
But that’s what life is like for a mom with depression and anxiety. Last night I planned on going for a walk with the kids today and taking a shower. This morning I woke up feeling alright but not incredibly motivated and as the day wore on and my obligations grew closer, I began thinking of ways to get out of them.
When I was with my husband, that was termed “laziness”. Some part of me still thinks that it is laziness and not depression. After all, I’m free now, I’m on an increased dose of my antidepressant and a new antianxiety med. What do I have to be depressed about? Then I remind myself that depression is a chemical imbalance. It can be managed by diet, exercise, therapy, and/or medication, but getting to the point of doing anything other than the “bare minimum” of therapy and medication takes awhile. When I barely have the motivation to get out of bed, how can I really be expected to eat anything other than quick meals or to go on a walk outside?
Some day I’ll get to that point if I can just trust in the process. I won’t always feel like this. I may not ever become “super mom” who hosts play dates or who plans excursions instead of just tagging along when invited. But someday I’ll feel okay, maybe even happy. Someday I’ll be able to see myself buying a house and maintaining it. Right now, even though it’s draining and sad, I accept where I am.