The sun peaks through the window, kissing the kids awake. They're excited to start their day as they are everyday. Everything is still new to them, still fresh, still exciting.
They run and jump on mama's bed. "Can we get up now??" They have no idea that mommy just fell asleep 2 hours ago from tossing and turning, brain running on all gears thinking of one bad scenario after another. They have no idea how physically and emotionally exhausted she is. They smile at her while they jump and giggle, she uses her strength to smile back and prepare herself for yet another day.
Almost zombie like, mama makes breakfast, sets up the kids, but forgets to feed herself. She gets everyone's teeth brushed, hair combed, clean clothes, but doesn't do the same for herself. She's on autopilot and she's not even a passenger.
The kids play, their joyous shouting and laughing is echoing in her head, the mess of the house building, pressure rising, but she just can't fix it. The kids start fighting, "mom I want..." "mom I need..." "mom can I..." She can't focus, she's unmotivated but the kids need, the kids want, the kids ask. The sounds of two kids turns into the sounds of 8. The mess multiplies.
She escapes as many times as possible to lay down, fatigued even though, outwardly, she hasn't done much. But inside? Inside her, she is fighting a battle invisible to the eye. She has fought the urge to scream, the pull to cry, the temptation of running away from it all even though she isn't even sure of what "it" is.
She has anxiety.
She has depression.
When we as mothers go through this, some feel like it's nothing, after all, we can't even pinpoint WHY we're feeling this way. How can we ask for help when we don't know what we need? How can we feel like we want to run away? We're mothers. We're the ones expected to stay. We're the ones who have to hold everything together. We're the rock, the glue. We're nurses, maids, teachers, lawyers, mediators, judges...we're strong! But sometimes we aren't.
Nobody sees the pain or the struggle because we hide it, as we're placed on such a high pedestal. But it's okay to not be okay. We are human and we need to remember that and remind other.
Investing in our emotional well-being and our mental heath is just as important as making sure the kids are fed and clean. We are important too. We can ask for help too.
I know I need that reminder when I try to force myself to do it all and end up at my breaking point. Anxiety and depression are so real and very prevalent among mothers. Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough as is, and the isolation, blame and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support and living well. If we can help end the stigma, we can move forward in helping mothers and the other 1 in 5 people living with mental health conditions, thrive.
Know that you are not alone, it's okay to not be okay, and you CAN reach out.