Here I am, this self-proclaimed bad-ass, Super Mom, Do-All-The-Things chick, yelling “I don’t need no approval” just as much as I am yelling for cupcakes in the workplace (not really, but now I want to), and I find myself scared to post how I’m feeling, for fear that I will…I don’t know. Let my family and friends down? Lose readers? Be judged for being fat AND depressed?
What does that say about our society, that we fear being called fat AND that we fear mental illness in any of its forms as even worse?
If you read my blog, you know that I had my fourth (third biological) child, a girl, three months ago. I’ve touched on the comments that I get from people since having her, but…not much else. I could easily chalk that one up to having extremely little free time to write, or even an epic case of Mom Brain, wherein thoughts/words/ideas/reallyfreakingimportantthings go in my brain and then pull a Houdini and are never heard from again. Honestly, though, I think it is a mix of both of those…with an (un)healthy dose of I really don’t feel like Me.
So, to catch you up, here’s essentially how I’ve been and what I’ve been up to over the last few months. Oh, and if seeing the dented, peeled paint, scabbed over, stretch marks-ed, pile of tissues side of my journey into re-motherhood is just too unappealing, I suggest you go back and read some of my lighter posts on the subject instead – HERE and HERE.
Shit’s about to get all too real.
I am depressed.
I wake every morning, dreading time spent on the couch with only Social Media to supply me with adult interaction.
I am depressed.
My head has been hurting for three months, my back hurts in different spots every day, my legs cramp from long hours spent nursing my bottomless pit-of-a-daughter, my boobs look either incredible or deflated depending on how recently my daughter has fed, my nails are all broken, my hair is falling out, my skin can’t decide whether it wants to be oily or dry, I’ve had a cold for three times longer than I ever have before, and sleeping in nursing bras has resulted in actual stab wounds.
I am depressed.
I’ve taken under 10 showers/baths in the last 90 days, hair stylists have washed and dried my hair more than I have recently, I haven’t posted a blog in over a month, I have seven books that I haven’t had the time to even read the back cover of, I am about – oh – seven months behind where I planned to be with my personal trainer certification (read: me no study), I haven’t had my hair dyed in over 17 weeks and, darling, Mommy goes gray faster than you can say “self-care”.
I. Am. Depressed.
Cooking family meals has ungracefully morphed into boxes of macaroni and cheese or pizza, I help my son with his homework as I sit (nursing, always nursing) on the couch, I lay out the remote and mouse every night so that my kids can turn on Netflix cartoons every morning and OH MY WORD LET MOMMY FREAKING SLEEP, and we paid good money for a sleep suit that effectively makes my pretty little princess look like Ralphie’s little brother from A Christmas Story.
Buh-bye, Mommy’s retirement chances…
I AM DEPRESSED.
As if all of that isn’t enough, I am now unemployed, adjusting to a new schedule with my kids, dealing with being able to hear my husband (who works from home), but not being able to be with him, stressing about money, trying to plan a Kickstarter for what I truly believe to be my fucking life’s calling…and I am barely sleeping, even though my sweet little girl is finally sleeping beautifully through the night.
The very worst part is that this doesn’t even feel like depression…it feels like failure. Total failure, on all fronts, in every way.
Oddly enough, this post isn’t about the things that are all colliding in my brain to result in a jumble of depression…it’s about not being ashamed to talk about it.
It isn’t as if depression (in any of its forms) is a rare disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “An estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.” As many as one in four women will suffer from maternal depression at some point in her lifetime, including about 10 percent of new mothers who develop postpartum depression (PPD).
So, if it’s so common…what’s with the fear of talking about it?
I think back to my experiences growing up, and what it was like being Child Four of Five in a Family of Seven. Just given the sheer size of our family, individual concerns weren’t readily addressed. My father, having both Type I and Type II Diabetes as well as a whole slew of medical issues, took up the bulk of attention when it came down to it, so “Hey, Mom and Dad? I think I’m depressed…” didn’t really garner much more than a suggestion that I do more chores and stop trying to gain attention. That was, essentially, the same response you could expect to get from your friends as well – the belief that you were attention-seeking and just wanting SOMETHING to make you look special or different.
As if anyone would want a crippling sense of hopelessness for that.
We are brought up being told that depression is something to push aside, shrug off, not talk about, or make fun of. No matter how many awesome films there are that allow us to catch a glimpse of what living with a depressive disorder is like (It’s A Wonderful Life, Melancholia, Ordinary People, The Virgin Suicides, The Royal Tenenbaums, Little Miss Sunshine, Girl, Interrupted, Synecdoche, and more), there are more that showcase That One Depressed Kid, almost always portrayed as an unwashed emo creature, used to being beat up on by the jocks.
As if that is their life expectancy.
So, it’s little wonder why I feel a little more than “ashamed” to share that things have been off…but that isn’t even all!
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this ever, but I’m fat. It doesn’t matter that I am happy being fat, that I prefer being fat, even…the fact remains that I am fat, and that is what is commented on when sharing with close friends, family members and the medical field.
“What are your eating habits?”
“Maybe you just need to exercise more…drop that baby weight.”
“Obese individuals are more likely to be depressed than those with healthy BMI’s…”
Have I mentioned that, while I am fat, I am also healthy…and that those two aren’t mutually exclusive?
Imagine how hard it already is to speak up about feeling depressed, but then add on that someone will tell you it’s your fault because of your weight. But it doesn’t stop there. Not only have researchers, drawn mostly from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, analysed the medical records of nearly two million people for up to 10 years and found that those who were overweight (with a BMI of 25 to 29) had an 18 percent lower risk of dementia compared to those with a healthy BMI (Daily Mail), but being underweight increased the dementia risk by 39 percent. Even with my thoughts about the BMI aside, and how it doesn’t account for fat distribution (only weight in relation to height), that is some interesting information.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that having a BMI between 25 and 29.9 (the range defined as overweight) may extend your life span.
Here is all this scientific information on fat and health and a potential decreased likelihood of dementia…and yet I am still hearing that my depression is being caused by the doughnut I ate for breakfast, as opposed to someone just…listening.
We’re entering the longest days of the year here, people. Depression runs rampant, activity levels are down, and feelings of self-worth hit an all-time low. Now is not the time to push people even farther away, especially when they open up about how they’re feeling. Chances are, they chose you for a reason; maybe you’re a good listener, or they know that you, too, have been depressed at some point. Maybe they like the color of your shoes or that you, too, stepped in a puddle today. Whatever the reason, do them a solid and hold your tongue about things you don’t have a degree in… because you don’t need a degree to be an empathetic, kind human being. You just need to care.