Smiling is easy to fake. Pretending to be cheerful doesn’t require any special skills. Giving the illusion of being a happy-go-lucky, working mom who has it together does require a bit of smoke and mirrors, but it’s certainly not impossible to achieve. 

Hiding depression from my teenage kids . . . now that takes some cloaking and camouflage. 

A 17-year-old, as self-absorbed as they can be, is more likely to notice low energy, anxiety, and a new prescription for Effexor than a 7-year-old is. 

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

When my kids were smaller I worked hard to be a present, active mom in my children’s lives, and never once spoke to them about my struggles.

I had good days and bad days, and on those bad days, it was important to me my kids did not see the dark side of depression. 

But then they got older, and to say I hit a bump in the road is an understatement. It was more like hitting several very large bumps and falling down a deep hole. A deep hole with thick branches covered in thorns. And I didn’t have a flashlight. And for good measure, I gained 100 pounds. 

Each time I tried to climb out by steadying my footing, the branch would break. I would break too. And putting myself back together wasn’t something I was capable of doing alone. It would take therapy, asking for help, and a whole bunch of medication. 

Depression, anxiety, ADD, insomnia were diagnoses difficult to hide from my growing children. I think a good part of me feltand still sometimes feelsI wasn’t a good enough mom. 

One day in the middle of a therapy session for my child and me, the room began to spin and lightheadedness soon followed. I ended up on the floor, convinced I was having a heart attack. When the EMTs arrived and asked for my medication list I rattled them off but very quietly whispered when I got to Adderall. 

“I heard that,” my kid chirped. 

I felt caught. I hated that my kid officially knew I took medication for “ brain issues.” 

It wasn’t just taking medication that became impossible to hide. My children began noticing my weight gain, my anxiety attacks, and overhead my crying spells in the bathroom. 

RELATED: My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I Fail Over and Over Again

But then I started noticing something. Other women were speaking out about their own struggles with depression, writing articles, posting Instagram stories, and taking selfies while holding up their prescription bottles of Zoloft. These women became my inspiration and gave me the courage to finally share my diagnosis with my kids. 

Being a little more open about what depression can look and feel like felt liberating because I always wanted to embrace the stigma-free movement other women were paving the way for. If people can openly talk about diabetes, heart disease, and embarrassing foot fungus, it stands to reason that topics about mental health should be addressed too. 

It’s not always easy having these conversations with my teenage kids, but slowly I am realizing they aren’t just necessary, they make me a better mother. 

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Claudia Caramiello

Claudia Caramiello is a certified pharmacy technician by day, freelance writer by night, mother of two teen sons both day and night. Hailing from New Jersey, she survives single motherhood on caffeine, humor, and listening to Twenty One Pilots. Her articles have been featured on Scarymommy, Bluntmoms, Sammiches and psych meds, Elephant Journal, and Moms & Stories. You can find her on Facebook at Espresso & Adderall and read more from Claudia on her blog, https://wordblush.com/

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