Life is a journey filled with ups and downs, full of beautiful moments and challenges that push us to the brink. Two such experiences that are often linked to a rollercoaster of emotions are motherhood and depression. The connection between the two may seem a bit far-fetched, but if you look deeper, you'll find striking similarities that both experiences share. And while they each come with their unique challenges, there's a silver lining in the fact that understanding these similarities can help us navigate these experiences better and find the strength to laugh through the tears rather than curling up in a ball.
Motherhood is said to be a beautiful and rewarding journey that brings joy, love, and a sense of fulfillment. It's a time of growth and learning, not just for the child but also for mom. However, along with the happiness and love, it also brings with it a load of challenges. From sleepless nights to constant worry, from self-doubt to the overwhelming responsibility of shaping a human life, motherhood is a journey that demands a lot from a woman, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Throw into the blender a mix of unrealistic societal standards and the pressure we put on ourselves to be “the best” and it’s a recipe that could turn out to be the best thing ever or a disaster that requires some elbow grease to clean up the mess.
Depression: A Hidden Battle
Depression, on the other hand, is a mental health condition that affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. It leads to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person's ability to function at work and at home. Depression is much more than just feeling sad or having a bad day. It's a serious condition that requires understanding and medical help. While this blog is somewhat light-hearted, it is not meant to poke fun or cheapen the seriousness of depression as a mental health issue.
The Striking Similarities
At first glance, motherhood and depression might seem worlds apart. However, when you look closely, you'll find that both experiences share some commonalities. For instance, both can be incredibly isolating. As a new mother, it's easy to feel like you're alone in your struggles, just as a person battling depression often feels misunderstood and alone. Both experiences can lead to feelings of guilt, self-doubt, and the feeling of being overwhelmed. Additionally, both motherhood and depression can significantly affect sleep patterns and overall physical health.
Another similarity of the two is losing interest in things you once enjoyed and the lack of motivation or energy to pursue those activities. It is common to experience a decrease in enthusiasm and drive when you start losing interest in things that were once important to you.
Being a mother changes your priorities and no matter how much you wanted it, motherhood can be a difficult adjustment for women when it comes to their social lives. No more are you able to simply pack up last minute and run to the store or happy hour. It takes more planning now, to make sure you have all that baby needs while you’re out. Where are you at in the feeding schedule? Will you need to change a diaper or even clothes? Will the baby nap outside of the home? So much to think about and it can at times be so overwhelming for mom that they may choose not to go. It’s also important to note that when becoming a mom, it’s normal to have a change in priorities. Going out with friends and not getting home until wee hours of the morning may not be your cup of tea anymore considering baby gets up at 6am to eat. You may begin to see your priorities shift. This shift can also create a sense of isolation and loneliness, sometimes regret. These are normal feelings. It’s important to acknowledge them and find new things that are of interest to you.
With depression, the lack of motivation to do the things they enjoy is the biggest hurdle. While mom may want to do these things and decides not to because of the amount of energy it takes to go, someone who is battling depression may have the desire to go as well, but the energy it takes to make the moves to go is too exhausting, physically as well as emotionally.
When one is trying to figure out which they are dealing with, one thing that can be helpfu lto keep in mind is how is the lack of motivation is presenting. As stated above, it’s common to experience a decrease in desire to engage in activities that were once important to you. This can manifest as procrastination, reluctance to participate in activities, and a general feeling of apathy towards things that used to bring you joy.
Additionally, losing interest in activities can also lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from friends and family members who share those same interests. It can be difficult to maintain relationships with others who are passionate about something you no longer enjoy, and this can cause a sense of loneliness or alienation.
Overall, losing interest in things you once enjoyed can have a significant impact on your emotional well-being and social life. It is important to recognize the signs of losing interest and take steps to address the underlying causes. This may involve exploring new interests, seeking support from loved ones, or talking to a mental health professional.
Relatable Mom Life
Some days it’s hard to tell which is which. The challenges of motherhood can sometimes mirror the symptoms of depression, making it difficult to distinguish between the two. This is why it’s so crucial for mothers to take care of their mental health and seek help, especially if they feel they might be dealing with depression. Equally important is the need to normalize the struggles of motherhood and to understand that it's okay to not be okay sometimes. It's okay to feel overwhelmed, to feel like you're not doing enough, to feel tired and worn out. Remember, you're not alone in this journey, and it's okay to reach out for help when you need it.
Speaking to a mental health professional can be that non-judgmental outlet that a mom needs to help her move through the changes that come along with motherhood. And it’s okay if you’re not sure which one you’re dealing with; that’s what the professional is for. They can help you weed through the muck and come up with a plan to move forward in a way that is supportive and doable.
Laughing Through the Tears
There's a saying that we laugh so we don’t cry. Sometimes we do both. Sometimes we laugh so hard, we start to cry. That is a clear sign from our body that it needed that outlet. so let it happen.
It’s irresponsible of me, as a mental health professional, to tell you that motherhood is okay and dealing with depression isn’t. Because motherhood is difficult. So is dealing with depression. Both are equally important to address so you can gain understanding of what’s happening and begin to feel better.
It IS important for us to find joy in the chaos. It’s equally as important to cry if that’s what our body needs to do. Regardless of what you’re feeling, it is okay to feel it. You’re not damaged. You’re doing the best you can and that is all anyone ever needs from you. But it is important for you to take care of yourself in whatever way that feels right at the time. Ask for help, even if that’s not your nature. Remember, it takes a village.
Sometimes I wonder if “Motherhood” should be a DSM diagnosis. Just a thought. 😉
Am I depressed or a mom?