to the undiagnosed moms with anxiety/depression

Because of Robin William’s recent passing and the nature of his death have brought up so much discussion about depression, I have been thinking a lot about what we deal with behind closed doors. Behind the screens that we see each other through, everyone is fighting a battle. Everyone is dealing with something.

anxiety depression you are not alone moms

I know that almost every mom has at some point thought they might be going crazy, or at least felt the heat of anxiety or depression.

“the most sane thing in the world,

is to realize we could be crazy”

– someone my mom always quotes

We don’t need to be medicated to know it. We all experience anxiety at different levels. But man, if I had a dollar for every friend I have talked to this year who told me they have dealt with feelings very similar to mine….

The more I think about it, the more I realize this is something that this generation of women might be dealing with on a much greater scale than our moms did, and that our daughters will probably deal with even more than we are.

In a recent meltdown to my husband when I admitted I am often moody, I did my best to explain why I feel it is so common for women, especially moms, to battle with anxiety and depression off and on and I rattled off a list of all the many reasons. It’s long-winded, but I wanted to cover all the bases:

Life happens. Before even adding on the layer of “mom”, you, as a human, have dealt with things.  Whether it be death, divorce, sickness, health, break-ups, fights, work, huge financial set-backs… life has lots to offer that can instigate feelings of depression and a perpetual feeling of anxiety that is hard to shake. The more time we spend thinking about those things, the more our brain gets muddy with extra crap on our plate, making it harder to digest as we go through the daily grind.

There is just too much on the brain. If you are like me, you multitask, you plan, you make lists. You are responsible for your well being, and multiple other humans’ as well. And you have other stress: money to earn, decisions to make, groceries to buy, a gym to find… If you are like me you take on more than you can handle, and you still feel like you aren’t doing enough. You say yes to everything, determined to be the one who can “do it all”, only to sit alone during naptime, or when everyone else is sleeping and feel the anxious guilt that you could do more than you are. Or what’s more damaging, that you should be.

Being good isn’t good enough. Even when you love your life, you’re a happy person, you’re a good mom trying to do everything you can to help your kids and to truly enjoy them and raise them to be good people, that guilt can creep in about all the extra things you are not doing as a wife/woman/mom. Did you take that family a meal? Have you called your siblings to check in on them lately? Are you volunteering at church and school? Are you actively setting goals to improve your personality and better your character, to get closer to God? Well if you aren’t, you aren’t doing enough. Because you should be able to do it all.

Not sleeping? Of course you’re not. You are spending the day emotionally battling with toddlers, keeping your heart from stopping every time your baby falls or when you catch that baby climbing ladders. You are mortified your teenager is making decisions you can’t keep them from. You are way passed exhaustion but your brain is on overload. There is no emergency brake. Sometimes getting to sleep sounds so depressing after a long hard day because you know you just have to get up and do it all over again. And moms don’t get sick days. If it was a great day, the anxiety to sleep is even greater because tomorrow is guaranteed to be a hard day. So now you are a tired, exhausted, fatigued mom. And your emotions and hormones are all out of whack.

What happens when your hormones get out of whack? You forget yourself and your health. When was the last time you were stressed and tired, and got up and made yourself grilled chicken and veggies for lunch? You didn’t. You grab a bag of chips or cookie dough and then beat yourself up all day about “letting yourself go”. It’s a vicious cycle, and we’ve all been caught in it. No sleep, hormone imbalance, gain weight, feel fat, feel depressed, eat more crap, stay up nights thinking about what you should do to fix it… rinse, repeat.

For moms, days can be lonely. For those of us home with little kids still, there are many days that you don’t make it outside at all, you don’t get together with friends, you don’t even run errands. Even if you do run errands, your conversations are limited to those you have with little people and your brain requires more of you.  It’s not always lonely, but it can be, and planning outings to avoid it can take more energy than most know. Especially if you have ever had a stubborn toddler in the house… Hours to leave is often not worth the escape.

Social media doesn’t always help. Whether we admit it or not, what we see and read affects us, and how others perceive us or react to us affects us. We use it so often because we crave connection, but the irony is that we are often left feeling so utterly disconnected. From people, AND reality. I fear commenting on things because I know I will get “yelled at” so I choose not to share. So I stay back behind my screen and keep quiet, just waiting to see what I’m allowed to share in my own space without ridicule.

Social media = pressure. There is an unwritten pressure now to do everything. To only post perfect photos, to throw the best parties, to make the best looking food. It’s not enough that you bear and raise humans from your loins and maintain a home, you also feel the pressure to make money, to be “more than a just a mom”. Maybe that isn’t universal, but I know I do. I feel as though I have a few talents that I HAVE to put to use, or I feel ungrateful, or like I am doing only the minimum I can do. How tragic. It once was a different world. A world where my granny was known not because she was an entrepreneur “on top of it all” but because she raised 9 of her 10 kids as a widow for 36 years and made 10 loaves of homemade bread weekly, only to keep two. She wasn’t on pinterest, her home was humble, I’m sure she wasn’t known for her style. When I remember her, I think of the bread. Her service and life of charity is the first thing any of us would say to describe her.

For some reason I notice when I get unfollowed on instagram and my day is dampened. Not because I am wrapped up in followers, I know lots of them show up to win something we gave away, but because I wonder what I posted that someone didn’t like! I am hardwired to worry about offending people. We want to be liked, appreciated, recognized. If we are received negatively, it hurts. I know some of you are reading this thinking, “well stop worrying bout what everyone thinks about you!” And to that I say, “you too!” Have you ever posted something and gone back to see what was said about it? If anyone thought it was as great as you did? Or have you seen someone else’s post, and felt your heart speed up….? You haven’t??  Then you don’t have the same anxiety that lots of women do.

It’s a-typical for women. Know why? Women compare. Whether it’s in person, or online, whether we admit we do it or not, we see what we are not in other women. There is always someone more accomplished, more creative, more popular, more fit… Whatever it is that keeps us feeling crappy about ourselves because of what we wish we have/do/look like. She has money (so she must be happy), she has a house (so she must be happy), she lives by the beach (so she must be happy), she has kids who don’t scream and have meltdowns in public (boy, she must be better at this than me).

Satan attacks where we are already vulnerable or self-conscious.

anxiety depression you are not alone

The good news? I am married to a guy who comes home to a messy house most nights, who brings home dinner more than I’d like to admit, but who also never says a thing about it and usually does the dishes anyway. I hate to admit, that some days that adds to the anxiety. He does more than me. He is doing everything!  He makes money AND cleans the house!! It’s a good thing that he’s so supportive and helpful and not quick to judge or belittle, so why do I still feel crappy so often? I told him this once and do you know what his response was? “I KNOW your job is harder than mine. I KNOW you don’t get to do everything you want to around the house. It isn’t just your job. They aren’t your chores. Your job is caring for the kids, anything else you get done is extra credit in my opinion.”  He reminds me that the pressure I put on myself is just that, my pressure.

All you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough.

-unknown

I hope we can help to bouy each other up, force each other to see how amazing we are. I hope we can see that in ourselves, be content and at peace with who we are. I know it’s easier said than done because even as I write this, my heart is racing. And maybe more of us need to admit we need medication. I know it changes lives.

We moms are children of God too, and to Him, what we do is always enough.


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About Meg

I am Meg, a photographer and designer and a wish-i-owned-a-house-er. My husband and I are self-declared foodies and LOVE projects. We blog about food and DIY adventures from sunny San Diego with our two cutie kids and have an apparel line at colormeapparel.com to keep us busy. Email me at colormemegblog@gmail.com to work with me!

32 comments on to the undiagnosed moms with anxiety/depression

  1. Darci Cole
    August 21, 2014 at 9:33 am (3 years ago)

    I needed this today. Man, I needed it. It’s so hard to describe to anyone who doesn’t understand, and you nailed it. Thanks, Meg.

  2. LaRee
    August 21, 2014 at 10:11 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you

  3. Sarah @ Bombshell Bling
    August 21, 2014 at 10:19 am (3 years ago)

    My husband is a general surgery resident and one of his colleagues told him after her maternity leave that she was so happy to be back to “get a break” bc being home dull time with her kids was so hard! True story. Hang in there. I know firsthand how painful mental illness is. You’re doing great!

    • Meg
      August 21, 2014 at 10:45 am (3 years ago)

      Thank you for this. Thank you so much. 😉

  4. Beth
    August 21, 2014 at 10:46 am (3 years ago)

    Wow. This is so me. I struggle daily with thoughts that no matter what I do, it’s not enough. I know a lot of other women who feel the same way, but none of us know how to let go of it.
    I also love that your spouse seems so supportive of you. I wish it was like that for everyone. Thanks for sharing.

    • Meg
      August 21, 2014 at 11:09 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks- so many moms have told me they feel like they aren’t doing enough. It’s a heart breaker. And I almost didn’t post the part about my husband, because I know it’s not that way for everyone. I realize that without him, I would be far more broken than I am.

  5. Miki
    August 21, 2014 at 11:06 am (3 years ago)

    This is so wonderfully written and honest. I definitely think this extends beyond moms too – social pressure in our generation is greater than ever! You’re incredible – keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Meg
      August 21, 2014 at 11:32 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks! I agree. I tried not to exclude non-moms because I definitely think it stems from women/hormones/social media at the core. 😉 You are a great friend, thanks for the words.

  6. Dee Dee
    August 21, 2014 at 11:07 am (3 years ago)

    Girl, thanks for sharing! My world got rocked this year transitioning from business life to full time mom and it’s really hard to explain. You articulated it perfectly! You are such a great example to so many, me especially. Thank you!!!

    • Meg
      August 21, 2014 at 11:33 am (3 years ago)

      And ps, I think you have made that transition look like a cake walk, in my opinion! 😉 YOU are amazing. Thanks for supporting me, I sure love you.

  7. Melissa
    August 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm (3 years ago)

    I KNOW your job is harder than mine. I KNOW you don’t get to do everything you want to around the house. It isn’t just your job. They aren’t your chores. Your job is caring for the kids, anything else you get done is extra credit in my opinion.” He reminds me that the pressure I put on myself is just that, my pressure.

    I love this part especially.

  8. Jenn
    August 21, 2014 at 3:48 pm (3 years ago)

    Yes. Every word. Thank you! :-)

  9. Nan lewis
    August 21, 2014 at 3:48 pm (3 years ago)

    I really enjoyed reading your post. It really spoke to me and helped me today! Thank you so much!

  10. April
    August 21, 2014 at 8:57 pm (3 years ago)

    It’s so nice to know that you are not alone! Of course I do not mean to say I am happy to hear when someone is struggling, but I just mean that it is just a little bit reassuring to look around and know that probably more women than you know are dealing with the same struggles as you, so instead of comparing, we need to band together and strengthen each other! Thanks for being brave and writing this.

  11. Amy
    August 22, 2014 at 5:31 am (3 years ago)

    Meg I LOVE YOU!!!! This whole post I’m reading thinking, “Yep. Yep. Yep. That’s me. That too. Holy crap did she read my mind??”
    Thank you for this!! I do feel buoyed up.

  12. Dani
    August 22, 2014 at 11:57 am (3 years ago)

    Good post. I can relate to everything you said and I know a lot of other women who can too. I am going to share this with them. Thanks :)

  13. Malissa
    August 22, 2014 at 1:18 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you! It’s always nice to know that someone else feels the same way.

  14. Julie
    August 23, 2014 at 6:51 am (3 years ago)

    I particularly liked the title. I’ve been struggling a lot more than usual lately and trying to find the reason through dr’s but not being able to. Everything you wrote(up until the hubby part-he is studying hard for a cpa license which is awesome and time consuming and hard and we will rejoice when it’s DONE) rings all too true. The best “help” I’ve been getting is scripture study, prayer, and articles like this one :) along with learning to say no to the extras that are stressers. (PTA for example, it’s for a great cause but if it’s going to add stress and take away time in the most important parts of my life, raising kids and having a loving family, then it’s got to go.) Thank you for your article.

  15. KathyC
    August 23, 2014 at 11:05 am (3 years ago)

    Take it from an old mom who’s been there, done that, and got the entire outfit including the t-shirt, you are enough. Whatever your struggle, how you deal with it is between you and God, nobody else. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing or not doing. You. Are. Enough. And you are awesome. XXOO

    • Meg
      August 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you. Tears. Moms who come out on the other side of this “rearing toddler” phase are ones I lean on for uplifting support! You totally understand. Thank you for that. 😉

  16. LadyMichigan
    August 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm (3 years ago)

    Excellent article, it is good to know that others have times when things just get out of control, and a lot of that is because we have been taught that we MUST ALWAYS BE IN CONTROL. As we pass through the seasons of our lives (I am now late Autumn) the stress and responsibilities change, and after some years of pretty calm sailing I am now dealing with a husband with dementia sydrome . And the “I can handle this” kicks in again. But this time I am not going to hide. I really know I will need help for me to help him. You are right if we try to be everything to everyone there is nothing left for us. One last point for those with children they will NOT remember if the floor was swept everyday but they will remember the times you playe games and the just plain times you were silly with them.

  17. Mandy
    August 24, 2014 at 5:49 am (3 years ago)

    Oh I was soooo blown away by this … u have given me so much comfort … its been really hard … I’m now realizing that my best is good enough and that’s all that matters … Thank you so much for this!!!

  18. Jamie
    August 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you so much! It’s like you hopped into my mind and wrote everything I feel on a daily basis. I can’t thank you enough!!!!! You explained so well what I have been trying to make sense of for so long. I know first hand what anxiety can do and it is awful. Your article has helped me think through a lot of my own feelings and be able to work through some of those things bothering me. Thank you!

  19. LadyMichigan
    August 24, 2014 at 2:55 pm (3 years ago)

    Yes the pressure is self induced, but none the less real. Been a long while since I had a toddler, but my 44 year old daughter became a mother 2 years ago, and she is a type A+++ personality. High profile jobs etc. She and her husband (the perfect pairing he is laid back and very patient) decided that she would give staying home with the baby a try, well it has worked out and she is doing some work from home. But sweet little baby is now a toddler with a mind of her own and a personality. The thing she said to me recently just about sums it up for most if not all of you ladies going through this, She said and I quote “THIS MOTHER BUSINESS IS HARD WORK” yup it is! But it is also hard to let go of the “perfect” wife, mother, housekeeper image. Children when grown will not remember you had box mac & cheese instead of home made, they won’t remember the house being so clean you could eat off the floor, What they will remember is baking cookies with Mom, playing games, having a girl day out just having fun. If anyone says anything about the dishes in the sink hand them an apron and invite them to have at it and leave and go play with your little one.

    • Meg
      August 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm (3 years ago)

      I think i will take you up on the advice there. PS, anyone who wants to come clean my house, you are welcome! Lots to do! 😉 thank you!

  20. Donna Hup
    August 25, 2014 at 8:44 am (3 years ago)

    What a great post! I know I’m so thankful for a supportive hubby that puts up with my messiness and mood swings as well. Thanks again!

  21. Jody
    August 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm (3 years ago)

    With God, anything is possible, no one ever said it would not be a struggle, but at least with God, you know he wins, if you follow his lead.

  22. Kimberly
    September 5, 2014 at 7:29 am (3 years ago)

    Thank You!!! Words of comfort for a hurting soul!

  23. Amber {Because Babies Grow Up}
    September 7, 2014 at 7:08 pm (3 years ago)

    My husband has said those very words to me! I’m so grateful every day for his loving support because this is WAY harder than I thought it would be.

  24. Stacie
    September 10, 2014 at 7:59 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you so much for this! I feel the exact same all the way down yo my very loving, helpful husband. I sometimes wonder how he can do it all and I’m barely surviving. It’s good to know that I’m not alone and to know that my best is good enough. Thank you.

  25. Shalece
    September 15, 2014 at 8:56 pm (3 years ago)

    I just wanted to say thank you for your honesty and sincere feelings. It’s good to know that we aren’t alone, that we all struggle with these feelings. I needed this tonight, thank you. I especially appreciate the end, that to God, what we do who we are is always enough. Lots of love to you!

  26. Katie MacAvoy
    November 10, 2014 at 5:20 am (2 years ago)

    Man oh man. It’s like you have been stalking me and then wrote this post just about my life. Thank you for this. For validating my feelings and those of others. I see all of these other articles where Moms who don’t feel this way judge those of us that do and it rips my heart out. Like, as if I don’t carry enoigh guilt for the anxiety that I feel and the ways I feel I let my family down….now the people who I need to relate to me and support me are turning against me.

    But not you! Thanks again. This was a really great way to start my morning and help me get motivated on a Monday. Have a good one!