I would venture to say that I have suffered from depression since I was about 12. I'm no doctor, but I know myself well enough to know that is has been about that long, now that I have an understanding of the symptoms and causes. While it has never been diagnosed (and it’s harder for black female adults to even get a diagnosis, but I'll save that for ‘rant day’) I also know, FOR SURE I have ADHD- which can also cause depression when not managed.
I had my slumps, but I never felt it affected my life the way it affected other people’s. Sure, I sometimes wanted to die; some days more than others. However, I never had the balls to even attempt suicide, I just wanted to get hit by a bus or get a blood clot through the heart in my sleep. Something instant, and not by my own hands so my family wouldn't be angry at my selfishness.
While I sometimes have feelings of hopelessness and think things will never get better- I understand I am being dramatic and it’s foolish to think that way because I have had moments where life was good and I was content.
Suffering from depression when it’s just you is one thing, but try adding a child into that mix. I was 18, in my first year of college when I found out I was pregnant. I got nothing but tough love throughout the process, and I was an emotional wreck. I cried every day because I didn't have support, I cried because I only had myself to blame and I didn't know how I was going to take care of this baby, when I already had issues. A cocktail for disaster! With the help of a few family members, I made it through, and fell in love with my daughter the minute I laid eyes on her.
I thought the storm was over. I was fortunate enough to have one the most laidback babies ever, and even though she made it easy for me in hindsight, I wasn't prepared. Postpartum depression kicked me in my ass! I hardly remember anything from 5 mos to 2 years. I don't remember her first words or when she took her first steps. I never neglected her or just ignored her like some who suffer from PPD, but I never enjoyed doing anything with her outside of feeding or bathing her. I just did the bare minimum, then handed her off to someone else to play with. Anything outside of that felt forced and I was miserable. Sure, I consoled her when she got an “ouchie” and held her when she wanted to be held, but I was a zombie stuck in a routine that I didn't really care for. Again, I loved her and she didn't asked to be here, so I did the best that I could in that capacity.
There were times when I had extreme bouts of happiness, and we would go to Chuck E. Cheese, the zoo, and all the things that little kids love to do with their parents. Unfortunately, there are more occasions of us NOT doing things like that.
I took her to the park a few weeks ago, just to walk around and she decided she would play on the monkey bars. It was so hard for me to hold back tears as her feet touched the ground, because now she is too tall. I felt so guilty, and like a horrible person. Why couldn't I just take her to the park and sit to watch her play or push her on the swing? What was so hard about that?
While I have had the opportunity to get married and have more children- I didn't go that route because I didn't know how I would deal with the stress and if it was just enough to send me over the edge. I could only focus on what I have in front of me, because I know what to expect and I know it’s what I can mentally & emotionally handle. It’s actually kind of sad, but I consider it being realistic with myself.
Within the last 2 ½ years, I can honestly say I have had some improvement. While some outside factors have kept me from doing certain things my daughter loves, every day gets better. Just letting her play in my hair or polish my toes puts a sparkle in her eye, and it’s easy. Showing her how to knit or having her help me cook are things that are so easy that I have taken for granted in the past, I now enjoy doing. Are there days when I don't want to do any of it? Sure. Do I still get angry about all the time that I've lost? Of course. Do I still have days where I just wish I didn't wake up that morning? Absolutely. However, I have this little girl who somehow thinks I'm the best mom ever and I have to live up to that title. It is a hard road, but I want to do it because she deserves it……
And so do I.