I was trying to escape motherhood and I didn’t realize it.
I was in a dark place and I didn’t understand it.
I hated staying at home with my kids and I couldn’t admit it.
I was depressed and I didn’t know it.

“I will come over after I bring the groceries home.”

“Oh! Do you want me to take the kids while you do the groceries?”

“No, I’ll just take them with! Thanks though!”

Wait . . . what?? Shouldn’t I have said yes to that? One year ago, I would have jumped at the chance for someone to take my kids so I could take a grocery trip in peace. One year ago I would have jumped at the chance for anyone to take my kids for any reason. Period.

But today, I was OK with taking them with me. Today, I mostly enjoyed their company and my days were usually full of joy because of these little humans.

Today, I didn’t want to escape motherhood.

One year ago I didn’t even realize that is what I was trying to do.

It started with attempting my own business. I decided to start making bracelets and try to sell them. I had worked for a beading business in the past and thought it would be easy enough. I needed something. I didn’t know what, but I needed something that wasn’t part of my duties as a mom. It was fun for a while, but it didn’t fulfill that something—and left me empty and with a feeling of worthlessness. The “business” quickly faded and I now have a few boxes of beads and things in our basement gathering dust. 

Then, I began blogging. Writing has always been a joy and passion of mine, so I figured why not write about my experiences in motherhood to reach other mothers? It was good and it felt like it was filling up the empty part of me that needed it so bad.

But it didn’t. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t good or right. I still write today, after all. But it wasn’t big enough to fill that emptiness.

The emptiness was so deep and so far gone that I couldn’t reach it. I couldn’t grasp it. I couldn’t even admit it was there.

I tried to fill it with other things. Play dates, friendships, social media, a job for a couple of days a week, days away from the kids, anything. Anything that would allow me to escape. But those short moments of escape weren’t enough. How could they be when the darkness filled my entire soul? I truly did not enjoy any of the moments at home with my kids.

I had gone through depression before. I was a teen and had the pills and the counseling. It was deep and it was real. It was clearly evident and unmistakable in my demeanor. It was impossible to hide.

But this. This was different. This time it was easy to hide. Even from myself it seemed. I never knew depression could come upon me so differently. I never imagined it to be like this.

A heavy and silent type of depression.

A depression that meant days, weeks, months of just getting through and forgetting that life could be different from what it was—that it wasn’t meant to be this hard. It truly wasn’t until I started to breathe in with clarity that I began to realize what I had been going through. I don’t even know where the clarity came from.

I wish I had known earlier. I feel like a part of me did, but I couldn’t grasp it properly. At one point I went to my family doctor. I couldn’t even figure out why I was there. But I felt I needed to talk to someone and I didn’t know how to talk to anyone. Perhaps a professional would be of help? After trying to explain a bit her response was harsh. “What do you need from me then?” she asked with no expression. I wasn’t in the right space to even know how to answer that. She sent me for some blood tests which I couldn’t even gather up enough energy or willpower to go out to complete.

I’m not sure why it lifted or how it did—but one day, it did. It was then I understood. I only wish I had been hit with the reality while it was happening. Because in the midst of it? I was just surviving. Just getting by and through. If only I could have truly faced the darkness and ultimately, been vulnerable with myself. I could have gotten the help I very much needed in the right timing. More than help, I could have begun healing in my heart. I could have still possibly enjoyed those key moments of motherhood I was unable to otherwise. I could have lived those long-lost months of motherhood without trying to escape every part of it.

Truth is, I ignored the signs. I ignored my heart. After all, people who are truly depressed can’t get out of bed and have darker thoughts than mine. People who are depressed aren’t able to make dinner for their family or take care of their kids properly. At least that’s what I thought. So no, I could not be depressed. I was just “down”. Everybody gets down and everybody has hard days. I believed I needed to “suck it up” and carry on, just like everyone else does.

Yes maybe it was a series of hard days. A very, very long series.

I was so hesitant to label it as depression. The label is strong and bold in my eyes. The label can be misused at times but is more often disregarded. The label can put you in a box and yet it is so beyond containable.

Depression. It comes in so many forms and so many ways. It’s not a taboo word. It shouldn’t be, anyway.

It’s real. It’s here. It’s a struggle meant to be faced and worked through, head on. It’s a struggle not meant to be ignored. More than a struggle, it is a disease we have to find healing from.

Depression. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not real or it’ll just pass or it’s not really there.

Not even yourself.

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Esther Vandersluis

Esther is a Canadian writing from Hamilton, Ontario, living in a sea of pink as a girl mom to three. Find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beautifulalarm) where you will find writing for stay-at-home moms, moms with littles, sleep-deprived moms, moms feeding babies, and babies with failure to thrive, all under the umbrella of faith in Jesus Christ.