We need to talk about depression.
I know what it is like to feel there is no hope.
“I’m just tired.”
When people ask you what’s wrong, that’s what you say.
You say I’m tired.
Like you just didn’t get enough sleep last night. Like maybe if you get a couple extra hours tonight, or rest up this weekend, you’ll be better on Monday.
But deep down, deep beneath all the fake smiles and the jokes you make to lighten the mood, you know that’s not it.
You might be tired, yes, but you know sleep won’t fix it.
Because it’s life you’re tired of. You’re tired of getting lost in your own head, of drowning in the thoughts and self doubts that pester you every second of every day, while you fight to keep your head above the tides.
Those same tides that threaten to wash away the makeup you carefully paint on every day so you look more like a person and less like a hollow shell of who you used to be.
Can’t they see that what you’re really tired of is pretending? How do they not notice that your porcelain smile is chipping more every day, your body armor has dents in it, your face paint is running, and the rivers in your eyes are bursting the dams you so carefully construct so as not to drown everyone around you.
So when they ask you, “Are you OK?” you just say “I’m tired.” Because you believe it’s the only way to keep them safe as you self-destruct on the inside, the only way to protect them from the disaster that is you. You believe you have to lie so the ones you love don’t look too close.
But you’re so, so tired.
And that’s OK. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that it’s OK to be tired sometimes. “Normal,” even. And you don’t always have to have a reason. Because sometimes just keeping it together is exhausting.
When you feel like this, it’s important to know you’re not alone. You are not the only one who feels this way.
To you, the mum sitting in the waiting room of your child’s doctor’s office. You’re waiting on your child’s latest test results. You’ve done this a hundred times before, but your stomach is still in knots. Your hands are fidgety. This never gets easier. You’re scared and you feel alone. Your eyes scan the room as you admire the other mums who are calm, reading books to their children. You suddenly feel guilty. I should be reading, too, you scold yourself. Then it happens. The nurse at the door calls your name. It’s your turn. You panic because you’re not ready to hear the news. You swallow the lump in your throat and walk through the door. You begin to wonder what’s wrong with you.
To you, who feels brave enough to take your child for a walk in the park or maybe even to a local play area, only to feel overwhelming anxiety about all of the able children around you with all of their able parents watching wondering why you’re signing to your child, why your child isn’t running around and playing, wondering why you’re single handedly trying to manoeuvre each of your lanky almost-4 year olds limbs into a baby swing while pretending to have a good time when really all you want is to run.
Time and time again, we question ourselves and struggle with our own decisions, and carry the weight of the consequences. We’re constantly criticizing ourselves. Is there something wrong with you because you worry endlessly? No, it’s because you love them. Are you abnormal because you feel isolated, tired and scared? No, you feel all of that, and no one blames you.
So here’s to you, the mum who deserves a thousand praises for loving and fighting for their child endlessly.
To you, the mum whose fears never shadow their courage to try.
To you, the mum who’s doing everything right and doesn’t even know it.
You’re not alone — I see you, I am you.