As upsetting as it is, I know there are many people out there that just read the title to this and laughed to themselves while thinking one or all of the following thoughts:
“Seriously, she gets to stay at home all day, how hard can it possibly be?”
“Staying at home with your kids all day is probably so fun!” (I will literally slap you if you say that to my face)
“You get to sit on the couch all day– what’s so depressing about that?”
And I’m going to stop you right there to tell you that I don’t like you– just kidding, I don’t dislike you. I used to not like people like you, because you’re one of the reasons I feel (felt?) like trash on a daily basis, but I’m passed that (for the most part.. *nervous laughing*).
As a stay-at-home-mom, I hear comments like that all the time. Sometimes they’re as small as, “Oh, you get to stay home with your kids all day,” but every once in a while someone spits out the big one, “So you’re not working then,” or “That. Must. Be. Nice.”
Small or big, those phrases are seriously damaging.
And even writing them here builds up forgotten anger inside of me.
Telling a stay-at-home-mom or dad that they have that good life and are privileged because they don’t have to go to a 9-5 job like the rest of the world is awful. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s about time someone did. Please stop being rude. We’re people, too- I know, crazy thought, right?
There’s no easy way to explain what it feels like being a stay-at-home-parent, especially one with depression. It’s kind of like that movie “Groundhog Day,” with Tom Hanks. Everyday is the same thing basically, with maybe a few small parts that are different.
During the cold seasons, we don’t go outside much– therefore, we go days with cabin fever, which isn’t my definition of “relaxing” or “fun” or “privileged.”
In the Summer, we take trips to the park, but for some reason, it usually ends in tears. There are many reasons why: someone falls, gets mad that they can’t run off, and/or gets upset that they can’t live there.
Everyday I struggle to get dressed (let’s be honest, most days you’ll find me in my pajamas), brush my hair (DAYS, I go days without brushing my hair), and eat a decent meal.
Why though? Well, because I’m cleaning the living room for the second time today, chasing my toddler who just ripped her diaper off AGAIN, and grabbing my infant because he’s about to put a phone charger in his mouth. And much, much more.
This is the thing– stay-at-home-parents often become depressed because they feel isolated, out-of-touch with the world, and unrecognizable (aka loss of identity).
I don’t want to say it’s inevitable because I believe (not sure) there are some stay-at-home-parents who LOVE it (if you’re one, comment below- I want to talk to you), but basically, it is.
Put an adult in a house with one or more young children for days, weeks, months, years, and it’s only a matter of time before they start to unravel and spiral out of control. Young kids are lovable, yes, but they’re also demanding, like very demanding, and just straight up mean sometimes. I always ask my two-year-old if she loves me and her answer is ALWAYS “no,” so, yeah.
I know some, maybe most, if you are reading this and thinking “Oh, someone who has depression, is a failure” or “You’re not depressed, you’re just stressed.” And to that, I say– you can go now, no one is forcing you to read this- seriously, bye.
Because I’m done with people like that.
I think most of us suffering know it, and we know we are just getting dug deeper and deeper into it, but I think we feel like we have no choice.
Because we’re expected to put our kids before ourselves, keep the house spick-and-span, and make sure the kids get at least three meals a day along with snacks in between. It’s just a constant feeling of pressure, pressure, pressure.
Never in a million years would my 15 year-old self believe it if she knew back then that I would be a stay-at-home-mom. I always told myself I would have a traditional job and make a lot of money. And I think most of us never thought they would be in this position, either.
The truth of the matter is this, with any major change in life and/or loss (not just a death), depression can be soon to follow. For some people, that loss and major change can be going from having a career to being a stay-at-home-parent full-time. For me, it was the social changes– going from being able to hang out with my friends whenever I wanted to barely ever getting to see them at all. And I know to some (or most) of you, that may not seem like a “major change” or “loss,” but to me it is. And actually, it’s scientifically proven that if someone doesn’t get enough human (adult) social interactions (which stay-at-home-parents don’t get for the most part), then that can cause them to fall into the trap of d-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-o-n
My friends have always been such a big part of my life, and losing touch with, honestly, most of them has caused me to lose my identity in a way. (In case you’re interested, my fiance and I have been working on this and I’m grateful for him and the chance to be able to reconnect with a few old friends. It definitely has helped).
Unfortunately, society has scared parents into bottling up their emotions and feelings because if they’re depressed that means they’re “mentally unstable and can’t take care of their kids.” Uh, no, quite the opposite actually. And this is probably an unpopular opinion, but- we’re like this because we are doing everything we can so that our kids can live their best life. We are struggling with finding the right balance between working on ourselves and doing it all for the family.
And that, my friends, makes us more vulnerable to depression. You can’t ask someone to bottle up their emotions and then expect them to not unravel eventually. LOL @ you if you think that.
Do you know how many times I have told myself that I am just not cut out to be a SAHM and I suck at it? A billion. I can’t keep up with the laundry, dishes, practically any of the cleaning, and I don’t enjoy cooking most of the time. I see pictures of other SAHMs on social media and think that they have it all under control, they know what they’re doing, and it looks like they are enjoying staying home with their kids everyday. The reality of that is, they probably are struggling just like me. Just like us.
At the end of the day, nothing is going to change for us if we keep thinking that we’re failures and we don’t deserve the help we need. If we start recognizing stay-at-home-parent depression as a REAL thing, then that’s one step in the right direction.
And for most of us, it might just be the step we need to get out of this dark place once and for all.
It’s not me, it’s YOU (depression). It’s not my fault I feel this way, it’s YOURS (depression). This has nothing to do with my kids because they’re perfect little angels. This has everything to do with you.
Let’s join forces and fight this thing– if we’re all in this together, maybe it won’t feel like such a bad thing.