When mom is sad

     (<a href=Distraught woman photo via ShutterStock) " title="shutterstock_59809108" width="1" height="1"/>

    (Distraught woman photo via ShutterStock)

    I once tried to take my own life.

    It’s a time in my life that seems so far away now. I was a person who only vaguely resembles the Rachee I have become.

    Last month, I shared my story on my blog. My biggest worry about doing so was that I would have to have a conversation with my teen, Madison, about the time I thought life was not worth living.

    If I were to create a list of things that I would rather have a conversation with my teen about the list would look a little something like this:

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Cute boys
    The importance of a clean room

    and then, maybe, number 634 on that list would be the time I tried to kill myself.

    Since Maddy reads my blog, and on occasion has shared it with a few of her friends and teachers, I thought having a straightforward conversation with her about it was best. 

    The night I shared my story with my teen I set a scene that, in hindsight, was probably intimidating but, at the time, was supposed to be supportive and relaxed. Television off, knitting away, glasses of water for each of us and my phone across the room. I wanted a chat that would just be the two of us, no interruptions or intrusions. Maddy was up in her room when I called her down to join me for a chat. She gave me a curious glance as she plopped down on the couch and waited to hear what I had to say.

    After a few false starts, the conversation went something like this:

    Me, nervous and stumbling over words: “I wrote something on my blog and I wanted to talk with you about it before I shared it with the world.”

    Maddy, visibly relieved and relaxing on the sofa: “Oh. I thought I was in trouble! Whew! What’s going on?”

    After this, the conversation flowed. I shared that I was diagnosed with major depression, also known as “clinical depression.” Among some of the symptoms are fatigue or loss of energy almost every day, feeling worthless or guilt almost every day, a restless feeling.

    Thoughts of death.

    We talked about the times I would feel so low. How there are times when I am dragging and feeling like I cannot get “it” together and days I pretend that I am OK and days when I just cannot. Maddy asked if I have to see a doctor, if I am required to let people know about being depressed and what I do to get through the days.

    Honestly, it’s tough. Sure, I got up, am able to get dressed, sort of get Maddy off to school, and most days make it to work, but leaving the house is a task that is sometimes accomplished only after hours of me dawdling before I left the house. Eventually I would get through the days, left feeling drained and on edge, crawling home at night exhausted. Some days find me wanting to shut the world away and pretend no one else exists but I have things to do. Some days I lash out (“Yes!” Maddy interjected. “I know THOSE days!”) and there are days when I fake it until I make it.

    “But I feel like that too! Especially around that time of the month,” Maddy said. “Am I depressed?” and we talked about how some people get the blues and feel sad but are able to get past that feeling. There are also people who feel so hopeless that death feels like the only option. Before I was diagnosed, I really thought all depressed people were just conditionally sad. Since my diagnosis, I realized that depression is almost physical in the way it takes over your body and mind and life.

    Maddy gave me a hug and told me that she was glad I was still around but wanted to know what she could do to make me feel better. I let her know that depression is no one’s fault; that there is nothing she did to cause it and that it was a disease that I have and will probably always have. I just have to take care of myself. 

    She gave me another hug.

    We sat there for a while with our own thoughts, and I said a small whisper of thanks for allowing me to see my daughter grow.

    Need help? In the United States please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1(800) 273-8255. They are available 24 hours, 7 days a week in English or Spanish. 

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