The Shame Spiral of SAHM Depression
As a SAHM of littles, I rarely experience solo outings. A consistent comment I hear is, “What a blessing to be able to stay home.” I’m usually able to smile as I simultaneously diffuse the escalating brawl at my feet while doling out a snack to pacify little tummies, but, if I am being totally honest, it doesn’t always feel like a blessing and I feel pretty guilty for that.
Honestly, I really do love staying home with my kids. It’s what I want to do and our family has chosen to make some sacrifices to ensure that. But it can be isolating for my extroverted personality, resulting in cycles of depression. I notice the signs: I stop changing out of my pajamas or meeting up with friends for play dates, I neglect my home and spend most of my time scrolling through social media. Then, one of the comments of the blessing and privilege to stay home knock me down.
They’re right. This IS a privilege. What’s my deal?
I can tell you from first-hand experience that the worst thing to do when you’re feeling down is to beat yourself up for feeling down. Regardless of life stage, occupation, or socioeconomic status, feelings of depression are not biased in whom they affect. Mindy Kaling has written about how TV writers are some of the most depressed people she knows…and they’re, for all intents and purposes, living the dream. Famous musicians, celebrities, politicians…no one is immune. Yet we shake our fists, “What do THEY have to be depressed about?”
That’s the feeling I’m talking about. I quite regularly spiral in shame during one of my depressive funks… I’m not a Syrian refugee. I have a wonderful family. I GET to stay home. We aren’t hurting for money. What right do I have to feel depressed?
But isn’t that it? You don’t have to lose a child, experience a natural disaster, or have major surgery in order to justify feelings of depression. Depression never requires justification. It is impartial, affecting all genders, all socioeconomic statuses, all ethnicities. It thrives on silence and isolation, spreading like mold in the dark.
For me to be the best mother for my children I have to have my tribe of women who are also privy to my triggers. Women who can ask the hard questions and reach down into the pit to pull me out of my despair. No one has it all together and trying to keep up the façade when depression strikes only further perpetuates the anguish.
So, mamas, find your tribe and let them in. Let them ask the hard questions and know when to pry. You’re worth it.
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.