Mums on Drugs: One Mother’s Struggle with Depression
Now before you paint a sordid picture of me sitting amongst my children, watching play school and “puffing with the magic dragon”, let me make things clear.
I’m not talking about the recreational kind of release, the ones that may or may not cover your memories of younger years in a cloudy haze; I’m delving into the world of something just as controversial amongst the parenting community.
Over the counter, under the counter, prescription and/or naturally therapeutic, it has become increasingly apparent to me of late that one parent’s saving grace is sometimes the source of another’s misguided judgement.
I have waited a long time to write about this, merely because I wanted to give this topic the compassion and sensitivity it deserves. I couldn’t write it on one of my bad days, because my world is full of pessimism and negativity when the dark scarf of depression decides its accompanying my outfit for the day. I couldn’t write about it when I was feeling better, because those days I am anxious as to my actions, almost fearing a trigger to send me back to feeling down.
But today, I am proudly medicated and motivated to write about an issue that is so secretly rife amongst my fellow parents, yet nobody is really open to talking about it.
I have struggled with crippling depression and anxiety for over 10 years, and yes, I take prescription medications. Without them I am not a good parent, wife or friend, simple as that. I have a chemical imbalance, and my medication corrects it. Would people be so critical if I told them I had diabetes and needed to take insulin to manage it? Or if I had a broken bone, would they have so much to say if I took strong painkillers? The depression epidemic is so widespread, yet the taking of anti-depressant medications is still seen as something that is kept hush-hush. As many things that start out taboo, it is much more socially acceptable now, but there is still so much judgement amongst those who don’t understand the completely hopeless nature of these mental health conditions.
I was heartbroken last week when a friend of mine was ostracised from her group of so-called friends when they found out she was taking an anti-depressant to help her get through a tough time.
“How could she possibly be depressed? She has everything! Her kids are healthy, her husband is wonderful and she has a beautiful home. What’s her problem?”
She couldn’t tell them, because on the outside, nothing is wrong. She loves her family and is grateful for everything she has, but that dark cloud has chosen her, for reasons she cannot fathom, and she’s doing the best she can to deal with it. Chances are that half of those women who talked about her behind her back have struggled with the same demons, and have taken, or continue to take, some form of medication to help them cope. But they are scared to say anything, especially now, fearing the repercussions of an under-educated society.
Fact: Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be taking antidepressants.
I’m taking a massive risk, putting this all out there. Chances are that whispers may follow me around the school yard once it “gets out” that I am a proud advocate of taking anti depressant medication to treat and manage mental health. I am not a bad mother because I take my “happy tablets”, I am a better mother because I recognise that I cannot cope without them. There is a huge percentage of parents out there, young and old, who are relying on their little bit of chemical help. Shouldn’t we be more focused on supporting each other, rather than judging each other?
Because as Alice once said to the Mad Hatter:
“I’m afraid you’re entirely bonkers.
But I’ll tell you a secret……
All the best people are”
If you feel you may be depressed, please seek medical attention or follow this link to our post on health hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice – http://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.