A Letter to my Mother, who Struggled with Depression
Mom, I won’t pretend or try to flatter you by saying you were a perfect mother. But you loved me as perfectly as you could.
I know you wish you had taught me how to cook, keep house, or even how to mix and match my clothes, but chronic depression stole those chapters of our lives.
As a child and teenager, I didn’t understand why you slept all day. I resented you for not getting up and being like other moms. I wonder if I would have ever understood had my own depression not robbed me of raising my own children. How I regret my resentment toward you now! Will you forgive me?
I understand that you felt overwhelmed when the sun came up each morning, fearing you wouldn’t perform any better than you did the day before. Your fears were confirmed each evening when you hated yourself, yet a little more, after another failed day.
Many years later, when I was going through my own struggle with mental illness, you made plans to travel from your home in Florida to my (then) Louisiana residence.
When you phoned to apologize that you couldn’t come due to intense physical pain, you also expressed how sorry you were for not being a better mother. I thank God I had the opportunity to tell you that I loved and forgave you. (Neither of us knew you were dying from cancer and would be gone in a few short months.)
Mom, you were not a failure! Rather, we – the culture of that day – failed you. And that makes me angry.
But I want you to know that I’m doing well! Thankfully, depression is talked about today and more people are getting help. I’m blessed to have had people in my life who recognized the signs of my depression, prayed for me and got me the help I needed. And most importantly, I am learning to cast all of my anxieties on God (1 Peter 5:7).
During this Mother’s Day and National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week (May 2-8), I think of you, Mom, warmly and very proudly.
What about you?
You can use a pseudonym (fake name) when commenting.
- Has depression and/or anxiety affected your life? If so, how?
- How can we pray for you today?
This post brought tears to my eyes Sheryl. Your vulnerability touches me deeply. It is amazing how people can have such deep sorrows and intense struggles, yet no one around them sees. This is a good reminder to look around us and really see people without all the judgment and comparisons we generally make and certainly a reminder to consider that our parents (most likely) did they best they could.
Thank you, Barbara. I agree. Just as we do the best we can parenting our children, I believe our parents did the best they could. Of course, there are exceptions to this, unfortunately. But most of the time, parents love their children and want to do right by them.
Thank you for stopping by, Barbara.
*HUGS* I did not know your mother’s struggle, Sheryl, but I have happy memories of being at your house after school, watching TV together, and your mother ironing as we did so. She always looked tired, but she was always very sweet to me. I felt like your home was my second home.
My father was the one in the family who suffered from depression, tracing all the way back to World War II, I came to learn. He self-medicated with alcohol; I had no real concept that the amount he drank was abnormal until I was in my 30s and dealing with my own depression. I had a lot of anger toward him and toward my mother; it took a very good therapist to help me work through that and realize they did the best the could with the tools they had. They make people get licenses to do everything from driving a car to fishing, but there are no requirements on having children.
My depression and anxiety affected my own ability to raise my children, and I still find myself apologizing to them sometimes for the past, but they have both gone out of their way to let me know that they love me; in their eyes, I was a much better mother than I was in my own. We are always our harshest critics.
I remember the day I almost took my own life. God was watching out for me. I was too depressed to get off the couch and kill myself; the whole world was moving in slow motion, like I was underwater. While my thought was that killing myself would be the most loving thing I could do for my husband and children (so they could find a new wife and mother), it had to be God who made me not want my small children to be alone in the house with my dead body, and who reminded me of the promise I had made to my husband to call him before I ever did anything to harm myself. It had to be God who gave me enough strength to get up and make the phone call to my husband, and utter two words when I didn’t think I could vocalize anything: “Come home.”
I’ve been on medication for decades, and that has acted as a safety net to keep me from getting too low. I still have my moments (sometimes extended ones, lasting days or weeks) where I feel low and helpless. I had turned my back on God for a long time, but I think meeting my second husband was God’s way of bringing me back to Him. I am inspired by how you have been able to be medication-free, with God’s help. Please keep me in your prayers, that my faith will grow strong enough that I can wean off the meds, by God’s grace, and live life on a more even keel.
Love you, Sheryl *HUGS* You’re in my prayers every day.
Wow! Phyllis, I had no idea. It’s interesting how we each saw the other’s home life is such a different light than what we experienced for ourselves. I remembering my mother ironing, too! Thank you for reminding me of that.
I am so sorry for the pain you suffered, but so thankful God spared your life.
I will indeed pray for you, dear friend. As thankful as I am that God helped me get off my medication, I want to be sure to express that I am not anti-medication. IF you need medication, then please stay on it. Talk to your doctor about it. When I did get off of my meds, I did it VERY SLOWLY and with my doctor overseeing my doing it.
If there is any way I can be of support to you, Phyllis, let me know. In the meantime, I WILL be praying, okay?
I love my aunt Sheryl
What a delightful surprise to see your sweet comment, Jim. Thank you!!
I love you, too, by the way.
Thank you for this beautiful letter. I sit here crying as I read it feeling this is my worst fear for my children. I suffer debilitating Depression, unable to get out of bed many days, prepare meals, play with my small children and the guilt and shame is agonizing. I fear how they will remember their mama- when all I want in the world is to be healthy and be present and active in their lives. I fear that I will pass on this illness to my children, a pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
My prayers are with you and yours and I pray every day for a cure to this disease.
Natasha, I immediately prayed for you after reading your comment. I am so very sorry for the pain you are experiencing. I would like to offer my friendship and support.
The Today Can Be Different Blog is new; therefore, there hasn’t been a lot of conversations via the comment link, but I know people are dropping by. If you think visiting the “Battling Depression and Anxiety” page could help, please consider doing so. Your struggle (and your story) could also help others. However, if you prefer not to – I most certainly understand. Perhaps we could start a support group if you live near the Tallahassee area.
PLEASE keep in touch! You are not alone, by any means. I will continue to pray for you and your children.