I feel the warm sun on my skin and the faint sound of waves crashing beside me, as I lay on the sand with a smile on my face. I sit up slowly to find Jimmy Fallon juggling at the far end of the beach, while the 1996 NY Yankees team is going for an afternoon jog. I smile and lay back down. In the next second everything goes black, as I begin to hear the piercing cry of my 14 month old, waking up for the day. My dream quickly fades in the distance, as I begin to feel the sheets under my feet. Before I can even open my eyes, he has laid his dark arm over me, pressing me further into my sheets. He doesn’t visit me every day, but on those days he does visit, it feels incredibly hard to get out of bed. Today, however he’s pressing even harder on me, making it nearly impossible to even pick my head up. I feel myself beginning to feel the weight of the entire day - the entire world - pressing on me. My eyes begin to fill with tears, as I silently wish for both the baby to magically go back to sleep, and for the bed to swallow me whole. But neither of these things happen, and so I painfully push the sheets aside, wipe my tears and get out of bed.
That was my life nearly every day last year - the strong arm of depression had taken a hold of my life, especially on those days when my husband worked late or traveled, and I was in charge of two kids, the house, the dog, the fish….and myself. I rarely, if ever, put myself first, and there were days when I forgot to shower, or even eat. I saw my health deteriorate, and even began to isolate myself from my friends, my work, even my family. And for the longest time, I just thought I was exhausted, or even crazy - I had no idea I was depressed.
It’s a fact that fewer than half of the women in the US who show signs of depression will ever seek care (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-women) - and I happened to be one of them. Oftentimes, mothers especially don’t prioritize their health and well being over more pressing priorities, such as kids, home, work or marriage. And while the national suicide rate is higher among men, women are twice as likely to contemplate and even attempt suicide than men.
By no means do I mean to be a Debbie Downer with this post, but instead to educate and hopefully inspire the mom reading this to seek help - your health and well being, both inside and out is of tremendous value to the rest of your family, because the happier you are, the happier your kids, family, friends and coworkers are. The trickle down effect is real, and it starts with each and every one of us seeking out our own personal happiness.
But it’s a process, and it takes time. The first step is to seek out help. Talk to a doctor, therapist or trusted source about how you’re feeling. Join a community of like-minded moms, like The ROKI Community, and surround yourself with women who understand EXACTLY what you’re going through. Over time you’ll see the difference you didn’t know you were missing. I did, and I’m so eternally grateful for finally reaching out for help. Now, I’m able to wake up and take on the day, without feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. I hope one day you can feel the same way too.