Genetics, bad life choices and environment have affected my life in a way that causes me to become depressed on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Today, I thought I’d talk about how becoming a mother has altered my mood – good, bad or otherwise.
I started seeing a therapist at age 11, right after my mother left our family. I don’t remember much about it, except that my goals back then were way different than they are now. I didn’t go to therapy with the intentions of “feeling better” because I didn’t know anything was wrong with me – I thought the world around me was crazy.
Then at age 14, I saw a family practitioner and I was prescribed Paxil to treat what he called a “chemical imbalance.” I didn’t like it – I hated it, in fact – but on his and my daddy’s recommendations, I took it for a while. Immature, naïve and unintuitive back then, I didn’t really care to pay much attention to how the medicine made me feel. I didn’t know what side effects were and I honestly couldn’t tell much of a difference when I took it.
After my first divorce, I moved out of state and in with a family member who encouraged therapy. She thought it would be an eye opener, and boy, was it ever. That therapist prescribed a cocktail of Wellbutrin and Paxil, and it did help me feel better. But I wasn’t consistent about taking it and eventually, the effects wore off.
When I started working with my current employer, I signed onto amazing benefits that allowed me to seek medical treatment of any kind without paying a cent over my monthly premium. In 2012, I tried to commit suicide and so I felt it was necessary to seek help. That’s when I began seeing my current therapist, a gem of a guy named Mark, and I’ve been seeing him since the middle of 2013. In 2014, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Type II, as well as Clinical Depression and Persistent Anxiety. It was a real eye opener for me. I had wandered around this dumb town, following my routines and doing what I thought was expected of me as a wife (I was remarried by this time) and mother. But there was a brokenness deep inside me that I couldn’t shake. So the therapist prescribed Catapress for nightmares, Zoloft and Xanax.
Fast forward to today and I still carry those same diagnoses and symptoms. Medication has helped (I have been switched to Lamictal and Xanax as needed) but I really believe therapy has given me the tools necessary to live my life without these crippling and overwhelming feelings of sadness, emptiness and hopelessness.
Sometimes, as moms, we feel things that we cannot cope with on our own. Our emotions can get the best of us. My kids are growing up and I’m finding that they need me less – or at least need me in different ways. And sometimes that hurts. I’m starting to realize that they’re big now and that kisses and hugs aren’t as necessary, that they’d rather spend the night with friends than hang out at home with their very uncool mother and that they don’t want to be spoon fed and rocked to sleep. I LOVE my kids. And most days, I’m saddened by the fact that their love for me seems to have fizzled out because they don’t NEED me anymore. They certainly don’t need me like I need them.
So these days, therapy is a place where I can talk to someone about those kinds of things. It’s a place where I don’t feel judged or obligated or criticized. It’s a place for me. Sometimes life is just hard, especially when biology has cursed you with mental illnesses like Bipolar Disorder. Sometimes moms just need a place to talk without feeling like the world is on their shoulders. And sometimes, personal growth requires professional help. The older I get, the more comfortable I become with the idea that asking for that help is perfectly fine.
I am definitely an advocate of therapy. It is a tool that can be made available for anyone, if you’re brave enough to take that step and make it worthwhile. Remember that we don’t just have to survive. We can choose to LIVE.
Meg / cC