“My tank is on empty and there’s a hole in the bottom. So every time I try to fill it up by taking care of myself, it all leaks out underneath.”
I spoke these words to my husband recently during a particularly dark time. It felt as if everyone around me was sucking me dry. I’m a mother of four healthy kids at home. In addition, I had five difficult attachment troubled teens in treatment in our home. Their parents needed me for answers. I had extended family commitments. I was seeing my adult children through the tenderness of their early twenties. The list goes on.
Usually, I can handle all of this with a little organization and a lot of humor. For some reason, the little details had become a source of irritation over the preceding months and frankly, even years. My health began to deteriorate and I just didn’t feel “right”.
Some days, I didn’t want to get out of bed at all. I was depressed. I did a good job of hiding it from my friends. I wasn’t so good at hiding it from my family or the therapists that work so closely with us. I am blessed that way. I have help at my fingertips.
The Particular Struggle for Moms Like Us
So many moms don’t have help. We are bombarded by a world that doesn’t understand our struggle. We have people surrounding us that say “Oh, all kids do that'” or “All moms feel like that about their kids” (those are the people that wonder why I am resistant to their parenting advice).
Some people think depression is a choice. That if we surround ourselves with friends, change our attitude, or in the words of Bobby McFerrin “Don’t worry, be happy”, we can fix our kids and ourselves all at once.
Now don’t get me wrong. Those things CAN help. After all, isolation is dangerous, attitude is a choice, and worrying unnecessarily can rob us of joy. But many times, our kind of motherhood brings stress that home remedies just can’t fix.
When to Get Help
Symptoms of depression include:
- Agitation, restlessness, irritability, and anger
- Becoming withdrawn or isolated
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty and full of self-hate
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
- Sudden change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms, it’s time to get help. Stress is a major cause of depression. As a mother of a child with reactive attachment disorder, you definitely qualify as person under stress!
I know, it’s just another overwhelming thing on your to-do list. You might also feel embarrassed or shameful to ask for help. But, it’s worth it to feel better. And it will only benefit this little person you are trying so desperately to help.
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Image above courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net