I laid on the bathroom floor, crying. My last pregnancy was one of the lowest points of my life. Logically, I knew I had many things in life to be grateful for—a wonderful husband and kids, a baby on the way, and an overall comfortable life and home. Except for one thing: I was severely depressed.

I had not experienced depression until I started having children. I experienced prenatal depression with my first and subsequent pregnancies, which then became postpartum depression after birth, and never quite went away, although things improved with treatment.

My third pregnancy was hell. I was already taking antidepressants before I got pregnant (approved by my doctor), but I experienced a significant change in my mental health when I was 12 weeks along. I suddenly plunged into a level of darkness that I never knew. Getting through each day became harder and harder and I eventually hit my breaking point.

I wanted to die.

The thought of being free from that pain consumed my thoughts.

The pain I felt was so real. It was an emotional and mental pain that went so deep that I could physically feel it. It felt like an immense weight that was crushing me. The only thing I could do was lay on the floor and cry. And cry. And cry. Every day. With no end in sight.

I wondered why this had to happen to me. There was no “reason” for the depression. Yet it was there. The reality of having to endure it again and again made my heart so heavy.

I did not think I could go on.

A lot of people are very judgmental when discussing the concept of a mother who is suicidal. There is so much misunderstanding of mental health disorders. So I’m here to tell you what it actually feels like to be in a place where you truly love your children, but still feel like you want to die.

It feels like the kids will be better off without you.

It feels like constant failure.

It is wanting an accident to happen to you so you don’t have to feel guilty for leaving them.

It is deep shame for not being the mother that you always thought you would be, and that your children are forced to suffer because of you.

It is hurting so badly that suicide feels like the only thing extreme enough to communicate to others how much pain you are actually in.

It is knowing that your children are seeing the worst parts of you and worrying that you are messing them up for life.

It is wanting to die in your sleep.

It isn’t that you don’t want life to get better, but that you don’t see how it possibly can and you simply want the pain to stop.

It is deep empathy and understanding for people who have committed suicide.

It feels like a complete separation from the person you once were. That person is already dead.

It is feeling like you are living in a stranger’s body.

It is trying to look forward into your life 50 years and knowing that you cannot continue life this way.

It is knowing that something is deeply wrong because you have no desire to see your future grandchildren.

It is a level of tiredness and exhaustion that you never knew.

It is torture.

Plain and simple.

It is also . . . 

Knowing that you need to ask for help, and slowly taking a baby step forward.

It is deciding you want to live.

It is fear that you will be thought less of, or that others will think you don’t deserve to be a mother.

It is leaning on your support system with the fragile hope that while you are falling, someone will catch you.

It is looking into your children’s eyes and seeing their innocence, and knowing that you want to protect that innocence as long as possible.

It is accepting mistakes and starting over.

It is about second chances.

It is knowing that the storm changed you. It damaged you; it hurt you.

But you survived.

It is now three years later, and I have three beautiful children who are thriving—and their mom is, too! I learned so much from this experience and the process of picking the pieces up, slow as it may have been. I am humbled that I have another chance at motherhood. I know I will never be perfect, and I will likely struggle in some form or another the rest of my life. I have accepted that.

I will fail. I will fall. But I will also get back up and try again. As many times as it takes.

Because I will not give up. And neither should you.

You may also like:

I Made PB&J Sandwiches, Then Got in the Car to Die

New Mom Takes Her Own Life After Silent Battle With Postpartum Depression: Why All Of Us Must Share Her Friend’s Plea

There’s a Monster Lurking in the Quiet Shadows of Motherhood

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Kristen Gardiner

Kristen recently moved to the Dallas area with her husband and three wild and crazy boys, ages 9, 7, and 4. She is a stay-at-home mom who loves Whataburger, Real Housewives, Diet Coke and being an active member of the LDS Church. Kristen has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from Texas A&M and an M.B.A. from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Kristen is also a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and has a passion for contributing hands-on car seat education to the community. You can read more car seat tips on her blog: Driving Mom Crazy.