Parenting Through Depression

Yesterday I took a mental health day because I needed it.

November was a very stressful month (my daughter’s asthma flared up quite a bit, we had the car accident, the Darren Wilson non-indictment, etc.). I am an highly sensitive, emotional person and it takes a lot of energy to keep myself upright and smiling most days. But yesterday I woke up and realized that I’m quite tired of plastering a smile on my face and pretending that everything is fine when in fact it isn’t.

I tried to pinpoint when exactly I began having these depressive episodes and realized that I can trace them with certainty back to my first pregnancy with my daughter. I have struggled with depression off and on for the past eight years and it is frustrating to think you finally have a hold on something and then BOOM! It knocks you on your ass.

What is most frustrating is how I try to hide my “sad days” from my children. When I’m parenting through depression, I summon all the energy I have to smile at them and ask how their day was and help them with homework and shower them with extra “I love you’s” and “I’m proud of you’s” to make up for the fact that Mommy isn’t really “present.” I’m existing in the same space as them, but I’m not really present.

As Alex said in her post on battling depression, it’s not something you want to broadcast and that comes with its own bit of shame:

I hid my depression and later my anxiety attacks from everyone. No one knew that I was leading a double life. I couldn’t let the truth escape because I didn’t want to show how vulnerable and scared I was. I didn’t want people to think I was a basket case. I wanted people to believe that I was fine, that everything was just great. That that smile I wore during the day carried on at home. I had to conceal the truth.

Most people (including my family and close friends) don’t know I’ve struggled (and continue to struggle) because to them, I’m active and thriving and I answer their phone calls and texts when they reach out to me. I have a successful business, I’m a pretty busy writer, and so everything must be fine, right?

Often it’s not fine, but I don’t share that. Everyone has their own burdens and problems and I’m sure mine wouldn’t even make the top 10 in most people’s lives. So I keep it to myself.

But I now realize that I have to care about myself just as much as I care about my children. I want to be strong for them, but also for myself. Being kind and giving myself the space to figure things out is not just smart, it’s crucial.

So when I took that mental health day, I meant it. I meditated, I watched animated movies, I fed my body healthy food. I danced to music that made me happy and I wrote down all my fears and anxieties to help me better understand what I’m up against.

I feel much better. Not 100% healed, but that’s what time is for. Now it’s just up to me to continue to pursue activities that make the “sad days” less frequent (therapy, exercise, etc.).

Thank you for giving me a safe place. *hugs*


  1. I’ve had some pretty difficult event happen in my life these past couple of months and like you, I hide. A lot. I hide behind my kids, my businesses — and it always looks like “i have it together,” when I really want to crawl in the corner and cry or stay in the bed and not move for the whole day. Its such a big thing to even admit, to yourself no less to other people, that you’re struggling. So big ups and high fives for that! My thing is, I dont know what makes me happy anymore. I can’t think of one thing that doesn’t have to do with work or mothering that makes me happy that I can go to and find a minute of peace. But we all need some time to just regroup, so don’t feel any kind of way about it. As the days past, things will get easier. Praying for you!

  2. Thank you for this post. I needed it.

  3. *hugs to you* I can only imagine how it feels balancing depression with little people around. Sometimes, I forget I have depression, and when I get in my moods, it alarms me. Like yesterday, I was just all out of sorts, and it’s trickled over into this morning. Mental health days are so necessary. I’m glad you took one and I hope you feel better.

  4. When you take a mental health day, are your child/ren gone? Today I took a mental health day because I just woke up in a funk and knew today was not a good day. I took my daughter to preschool and came home. I am still taking care of things that need to be done (packing for our upcoming move). Do you feel guilty taking a day off to yourself? I just feel tremendous guilt that I took my daughter to preschool and I stayed home.