Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

As a teenager, I was suicidal and received intensive counseling for my depression and anxiety. I also tried medication for a time, but my experiences were not positive, and it left a bad impression on me. As an adult, I managed any mental health symptoms with short periods of counseling, but mostly I just tried to tough it out. I didn’t want to spend the money on long-term therapy so once my health benefits ran out I gave up counseling. For years, I did well and my depression stayed at bay.

Then came children.

RELATED: Check on Your “Strong” Friend, She’s Faking it

We adopted an almost 4-year-old who could swear and threw amazingly spectacular tantrums in shopping malls. While we fell in love with him, he taxed us to the brink every day. Still, I tried to use willpower to make it through. Many a day I would lock myself in the bathroom to cry.

I felt so alone. Little did I know then I was likely experiencing adoption postpartum depression.

One day at work, I blew up at a co-worker, and I knew it was time to get some help. I went back to counseling until the coverage ran out.

Things got better for a while, and we adopted again. This time a busy 18-month-old, wise beyond his years.

Our oldest was diagnosed with several mental health diagnoses and became quite ill. Our family was in crisis, and we searched for years for the help we needed for him. During that time, I was anxious each day, I would ruminate about things I had said or that had been said to me. I worried that I had messed up or that I would mess up. I worried about my job, I worried about my children, I worried about my marriage. It felt like all I did was worry.

RELATED: To the Mom Left Worrying While Everyone Else is Asleep

The only thing worse than the worrying was when I stopped worrying. When I stopped worrying it meant the depression was so bad I was becoming suicidal. I was seriously considering taking my life and had begun to formulate a plan to do so when my youngest son who was five at the time said to me, “Mom, why does your mouth smile but your eyes are sad?”

It took me by surprise that he had noticed. I felt like the wind was knocked out of me.

I stayed up late that night and thought about that sweet, sensitive, young boy. My son’s question to me made me realize my reluctance to get help was putting my whole family at risk. My 5-year-old was living with a clinically depressed and suicidal mom. I was not meeting his needs, I could barely function. He was constantly complaining of feeling sick, he was up worrying until all hours of the night, and he was majorly emotional throughout the day. My son was struggling because I was struggling.

I needed to push aside the shame I felt in admitting I needed medication, I needed to take action.

RELATED: I Have Anxiety and Depression—and I’m a Good Mom

The next morning, I called my doctor and my therapist who I had not seen in a few years. I went on medication for my anxiety and depression, and I went to counseling and stayed in counseling until I was feeling better and able to function. It was amazing when the medication worked–I experienced a quiet mind which had never happened for me before.

Most importantly, I was able to refocus on my children, especially my youngest who had lived through so much upheaval while we got help for his brother and then later with me. I am not saying everyone should go on medication–just that it was right for me. It was necessary for me, and it saved my life. My willingness to reach out and ask for help . . . I believe it saved my kids.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Tina Szymczak

Tina Szymczak is a wife and mother of two very spirited teenage boys. She is passionate about disability rights; inclusion; adoption and infertility. Also she blogs about her struggles with mental illness, namely Bi-Polar depression. She works as an early interventionist in Ontario Canada. Writing has always been a passion and she enjoys scrapbooking her family's adventures as well. You can find her musings at https://spiritedblessings.com/

Having Kids Shows Who Your Real Friends Are

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Mother and child walking through forest, color photo

Any mom, typical or special needs, will tell you having kids is the fastest way to tell who your real friends are. When your child is born with special needs this process becomes even more severe and obvious. At first, people visit and want to hold the baby, but once the delays kick in slowly people start to pull away. Disability makes them uncomfortable. That’s the truth. They hope you won’t notice, but you do. Honestly, most stop trying altogether. It’s not just friends who act this way either, sometimes it’s family too. That hurts the most. As a parent...

Keep Reading

Hey Mom, It’s Okay Not to Be Perfect

In: Motherhood
Mother with head in hands and child jumping on couch nearby

Have you ever walked into a room, to an event, or a meeting, where you immediately felt out of place? As if you had come into a foreign space where you were not worthy, or just didn’t belong among the other mothers in the room? Maybe you were not dressed the part. Your hair may have fallen in messy strands around your face, or you may not have taken the time to put on a full face of makeup as the other women in the room had. Maybe your clothing choice of the day was just not quite as put...

Keep Reading

Dear Child, You Are Not Responsible for How Anyone Else Feels about You

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen girl looking in the mirror putting on earrings

Dear kiddo, I have so many dreams for you. A million hopes and desires run through my mind every day on a never-ending loop, along with worries and fears, and so, so much prayer. Sometimes, it feels like my happiness is tied with ropes of steel to yours. And yet, the truth is, there are times you disappoint me. You will continue to disappoint me as you grow and make your own choices and take different paths than the ones I have imagined for you. But I’m going to tell you a secret (although I suspect you already know): My...

Keep Reading

Now I Know How a Mother Is Made

In: Motherhood
Husband, wife, and young son, color photo

It’s been almost three years now, but I can still remember how your 8-pound body felt in my arms. Night after night as we tried to sleep, I remember your sounds, your movements, and your tiny hands. I gave it my all but still felt I fell short. You see sweet little one, you may have been brand new to this world, but so was I. The day you were born, a mother was born too. Things didn’t always go according to plan. It’s hard when you try your best, but you just can’t get there. So many new things...

Keep Reading

I’m Praying for My Teenager in These Challenging Years

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Teen boy holding a smartphone and wearing headphones

In my mid-40s, I began to long for a baby. We didn’t get much encouragement from friends and family. My husband is a high-functioning quadriplegic, and I was considered way too old to start a family. But our marriage was stable, we were used to obstacles, we were financially prepared, emotionally experienced, and our careers were established. I began to paint my own sublime mental portrait of parenting tranquility. What could go wrong? At 48, I delivered a healthy baby boy, and he was perfect. We adored him. The baby we had longed for and prayed for, we had. And...

Keep Reading

Going to Church with Kids is Hard but We’ll Keep Showing Up

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding young daughter in church

Going to church is hard with young kids. It used to be something I looked forward to. It’s something I’ve always valued deeply and needed desperately. It’s the one place that will always be home regardless of what location or building it’s in or what people attend. Church is my sanctuary. But it’s become a battle with the kids’ resistance, my tired mind and body, and my lack of ability to actually listen to the sermon. Going to church is hard with young kids. It’s become normal for me to lie down in bed on Saturday night thinking, with dread,...

Keep Reading

When Motherhood Feels Like a Limitation

In: Faith, Motherhood
Ruth Chou Simons holding book

Twenty-one years ago, my husband Troy and I welcomed our first son into the world. Two years later, I gave birth to another boy. And again two years later, and again two years after that. A fifth boy joined our family another two years later, and a final son was born 11 years after we began our parenting journey. If you were counting, you’re not mistaken—that’s six sons in just over a decade. We were overjoyed and more than a little exhausted. I remember feeling frustrated with the limitations of the little years with young children when I was a...

Keep Reading

I Obsessed over Her Heartbeat Because She’s My Rainbow Baby

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother and teen daughter with ice cream cones, color photo

I delivered a stillborn sleeping baby boy five years before my rainbow baby. I carried this sweet baby boy for seven whole months with no indication that he wouldn’t live. Listening to his heartbeat at each prenatal visit until one day there was no heartbeat to hear. It crushed me. ”I’m sorry but your baby is dead,” are words I’ll never be able to unhear. And because of these words, I had no words. For what felt like weeks, I spoke only in tears as they streamed down my cheeks. But I know it couldn’t have been that long. Because...

Keep Reading

Round 2 in the Passenger Seat is Even Harder

In: Motherhood, Teen
Teen boy behind the wheel, color photo

Here I am, once again, in the passenger seat. The driver’s side mirrors are adjusted a little higher. The seat is moved back to fit his growing teenage limbs. The rearview mirror is no longer tilted to see what’s going on in the backseat. Yellow stickers screaming “Student Driver,” are plastered to the sides of the car. The smile on his face is noticeable. The fear in mine is hard to hide. These are big moments for both of us. For him, it’s the beginning of freedom. Exiting the sidestreets of youth and accelerating full speed into the open road...

Keep Reading

Here on the Island of Autism Parenting

In: Motherhood
Son on dad's shoulders looking at sunset over water

Hey, you. Yes, you there: mom to a kid on the spectrum. Well, you and I know they’re so much more than that. But sometimes those few words seem so all-consuming. So defining. So defeating. I see you when you’re done. That was me earlier today. I had to send a picture of a broken windshield to my husband. I prefaced the picture with the text, “You’re going to be so mad.” And you know what? He saw the picture, read my text, and replied, “I love you. The windshield can be fixed. Don’t worry. Just come home.” I think,...

Keep Reading